2020 Star Women in Grocery winner Rhonda Mitchell (Q&A)


Rising star

Rhonda Mitchell
Customer Director of Strategy
Unilever Canada

How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
After graduating from university and college I was offered a role at Lipton Foods (now Unilever Canada) and my father, a successful entrepreneur, encouraged me to pursue it. He believed CPG was a vital industry that played a pivotal role in the lives of consumers. I took his advice, joined Lipton, and I haven’t looked back!

What do you think is your best quality?
Putting my team first and helping them grow and thrive. My team would describe me as a passionate, authentic leader who empowers them to challenge the status quo, be highly accountable, and execute against both business KPIs and personal growth objectives. It’s an honour to lead a team, help them see the big picture, and support them every step of the way.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
One of my first managers and mentors, David Bloom, said: “Take every opportunity to learn the business from the ground up, gain experience across all facets of the organization and grow from both your successes and your failures.” He believed the most successful leaders were well-rounded, with a cross-section of experiences and a strong foundation to draw from. This advice has guided my career, and has been an integral part of my success.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
A few years ago I was offered an incredible opportunity to move from a well-established and well-defined position to play a pivotal role in a somewhat risky transformational project. At the time I was excited about the opportunity, but equally nervous about whether the project would succeed. In the end the project did not fully materialize, but the insight and experience gained during the 18 months was invaluable. It completely changed how I approach a challenge or set back. Looking back, it was one of the best career moves I’ve ever made.

What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest achievements?
My current role really brings together my collective experience over the last 20-plus years—it’s truly a career highlight to lead an integrated team of over 40 people across shopper marketing, sales operations, deductions management, in-store visualization and trade marketing functions.

What do you like most about your job?
I love seeing the entire business end-to-end, and translating those elements into proven strategies focused on the last mile of our shopper’s journey. We have some of the best brands in the business, and it’s an honour to work with a team of professionals who are deeply committed to executing best-in-class customer/shopper experience, from in-store to OMNI e-commerce.

Anything else you’d like to add?
At Unilever, we talk a lot about purpose. I define mine as one that builds thriving and successful teams who challenge the status quo to deliver the best possible results…while having a lot of fun along the way! I feel very fortunate to work in such a dynamic and interesting industry.

Click here for the full list of 2020 Star Women in Grocery award winners.

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