2021 Star Women in Grocery winner Annie Rochefort (Q&A)
Canadian Grocer staff
Vice-president Category – Fresh Products
What are your career highlights/greatest achievements?
Most recently in the COVID context, my team and I managed to improve Agropur’s fluid business to make it more sustainable while demonstrating impressive agility during the pandemic. The fluid business, which includes Natrel brand products, represents close to half of Agropur’s business in Canada. I was fortunate enough to manage a remarkable cross-functional team, a group of dedicated people with different expertise working toward a common goal. This matrix environment allows for more agility and efficient alignment. It has helped us elevate our game to quickly respond to our customers and consumers’ needs within a chaotic period. Over the last ten years at Agropur, I am also proud to have negotiated major accounts and established business strategies that helped drive sales. I also believe I contributed to building strong partnerships with Agropur’s clients.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your career?
My biggest challenge was to have a well-balanced life (personal and professional), having days where I am trying to grow professionally while being a soccer coach, a hockey manager and a wife. A professional coach guided me through this, helping me identify my real “yes,” or priorities. She made me realize that sometimes, you need to take a moment to clarify what your real “yes” is, so you are able to say “no.”
What do you like most about your job?
I like to help people reach their highest potential and to see them grow. I had the chance to have excellent coaches along my professional life and my goal is to give that back to others. I have a lot of satisfaction when I can help others. My role is to lead multifunctional teams, achieving targets and strengthening our business. My team is the most dedicated one and I really enjoy spending time with them every day.
What is your leadership style/philosophy?
I sincerely believe that business doesn’t grow with numbers but with our capacity to engage our crew. I care about people. I care about them because they are our key to success—almost our family. I sincerely believe in Agropur’s values: collaboration, communication, boldness, integrity and excellence, and I try to live those values with my team. One thing we should remember is that we are only leaders if we have people to embrace our vision and we need to empower them and simplify their lives so they can accomplish their goals.
What is your proudest moment?
Seeing improvements of a multifunctional team in trying to make the fluid milk business sustainable despite the COVID crisis was one of my proudest moments. I am also proud to see young women evolving in this industry, becoming more and more confident. I am involved in supporting women in the grocery industry as I believe that we can go higher together. With a group of women at Agropur, we founded LIFe (Inclusive Women’s Leadership), an initiative to help women grow within the organization. The group’s mission is to inspire and influence employees and management in order to enhance and accelerate the development of inclusive leadership. We try to help women within the organization, but I can say that those women who founded this group are helping me in my day-to-day as well, sharing thoughts and supporting each other. We, as women, can help each other grow. I also volunteered to have mentees on a one-on-one approach to support their skills development and strengthen their understanding of the industry. I believe in the “business” advantage of women’s contribution to the grocery industry.
What is the best advice you received?
Where there is a will, there is a way! This is the advice I got from my parents, and I’m trying to pass it on to my kids but also my colleagues. Whatever mountain you face, you will find your path. Finally, I learned over time that we need to be bold, to believe and to be ourselves!
Anything else you’d like to say?
Find something that will brighten your day, something that you love to do. Be the leader of your own destiny. Lead every moment of your life. Also, please smile. A smile generates positive attitudes. If you smile, you will get smiles in return, unlocking your own future.
Click here for the full list of 2021 Star Women in Grocery award winners.