2021 Star Women in Grocery winner Christine Honeybrown (Q&A)
Canadian Grocer staff
Director of Category Sales Development, Retail Sales
Maple Leaf Foods
How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
I graduated with an electrical and biomedical engineering degree. In order to get to know myself better, I took some time travelling and working on farms in Australia, which I loved. In 2009 I made my way back home, and Nielsen took a chance on me because of my engineering background, and that was my first introduction to the CPG industry. Three years later I joined Maple Leaf Foods, where I have been ever since.
What are you proudest about in terms of your work?
I am incredibly proud of how my team stepped up to fill an unprecedented business need shortly after COVID hit. Everyone was, and still is, going through so many new challenges, both personal and professional, but with efficiency, flexibility and great collaboration across departments and teams, we established a way to navigate the unchartered waters to get our sales team what they needed to support our customers. The last 15 months really showed the strength and character of so many people across the organization.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
When I was promoted to director, I struggled with imposter syndrome. Around the three-month mark, a vice-president who has always been very supportive of me took me out to lunch to see how I was doing. When I shared my headspace with him, he listened patiently, and when I finished, he said simply said “You were promoted because of what you have already brought to the table. Be yourself, and trust the team that promoted you to be smart enough to know what the implications of your skill set are.” I was promoted to be me—it may seem obvious to others, but it was empowering for me.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Figuring out how to be career driven but not have to sacrifice my personal priorities. I was raised to believe that I could do anything, but I have struggled to learn that I can’t do everything. This year, I’ve struggled to be the career woman that I want to be, plus a mom, a wife, a teacher, a daughter, and a healthy woman with her own interests, friends and hobbies. More than that, I now acknowledge that I was struggling even before 2020, it just hadn’t been as extreme. While I have more work to do here to find my balance, the last year has forced me to be more open about this challenge, and the result is that I feel more supported than ever.
What do you like most about your job?
The people. Maple Leaf is a fast-paced, challenging environment, but I can look across levels, teams and departments and there are good people who I truly enjoy working with. In my current role I get to work with and learn from so many of them.
Click here for the full list of 2021 Star Women in Grocery award winners.