2021 Star Women in Grocery winner Geraldine Huse (Q&A)
Canadian Grocer staff
How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
I have to admit that it was not particularly planned! I studied genetics in university and my classmates invited me to a wine and cheese event hosted by P&G. At the event, I learned that P&G’s values were closely aligned with mine, especially in the area of diversity and inclusion. I felt that my contributions would be equally valued, I would have equal opportunities to advance and I would have an opportunity to make a difference. My career has spanned across various sales, marketing and general management positions across Europe, Asia, IMEA, and America.
What are your career highlights/greatest achievements?
Since joining P&G in 1986, I have championed diversity and inclusion, pioneering efforts to drive all forms of diversity across all levels of leadership and promoting inclusive leadership. I have seen this result in many people from minority groups “breaking ceilings.” One major change I led was breaking down systemic barriers for women in leadership roles while I was in the UK. Over time, I was able to turn the P&G UK lead team from an all male team to a 50:50 gender-balanced team.
What is the biggest challenge you faced in your career?
I joined P&G Canada at the start of the pandemic amidst a time of economic uncertainty, a widening of social and racial inequalities and deepening environmental concerns. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our top priority has been to keep our people safe while continuing to serve all our consumers and customers and to step up in our community as a force for good. To keep our people safe, we quickly implemented work from home for our office employees and additional safety protocols for our manufacturing and distribution facilities. We started making PPE for our employees and for community donations. We continued to serve our consumers and customers as we adapted to an increased focus and demand for health and hygiene products, changes in the store environment, and an acceleration in online shopping. We also stepped up in the community by donating $4 million in products and cash to help frontline workers and Canadians in need, committed $1.8 million to support racial equality causes and announced a carbon neutral goal by 2030.
What is your proudest moment?
I’m proud of P&G’s commitment to be a force for growth and good. As a business that is accountable to shareholders, we must deliver growth but we are equally committed to make a positive impact for our communities, for society, and for our planet. This year, as part of our Lead with Love campaign, P&G has committed to 2,021 acts of good in 2021. Recent actions include committing to distributing 70,000 P&G hygiene kits to Canadians in need including to First Nations communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID. We have also just launched a new platform called P&G Good Everyday that enables Canadians to donate to causes that matter to them through their everyday actions.
What is your leadership style/philosophy?
When I joined the company more than 30 years ago, the leader was supposed to have all the answers but that has totally changed now. The leader doesn’t have all the answers and any leader who thinks they do have all the answers will fail. The world is moving and changing too quickly for any one person to have all the answers. As leaders, we need to use our teams and resources, we need to have a growth mindset, be open to advice, and keep learning. A leader’s success is down to harnessing the power of the whole team.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
When I started my career, I was looking at all the successful people above me thinking I’ve got to be like that and I would try to act like them and copy their style. But the reality is, if you try to be like somebody else, you’ll never be as good as you can be. Everybody is unique and has unique talent. We all need to strive to be the best we can be as an individual. The best advice that I’ve received is to focus on being the best you can be, and yes, that will be different than some of the successful leaders above you or the peers around you and that is fine and can be even better!
Anything else you’d like to say?
This is a really exciting time in our industry. We touch people’s lives every day. Our products help to maintain proper personal hygiene and healthy home environments and are in high demand at the moment. As leaders, we have a huge opportunity to drive category growth and value for consumers, retailers, and suppliers. It is equally important that as we serve our consumers and shoppers, we step up to be a force for good to give back to communities, inspire positive change in our society, and take care of our planet.
Click here for the full list of 2021 Star Women in Grocery award winners.