2021 Star Women in Grocery winner Kirsten McLeod (Q&A)
Canadian Grocer staff
Pemberton Valley Supermarket Ltd.
How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
I was on the town council with one of the owners of the store, and towards the end of our three-year term on council he offered me the position of store manager. While I had a lot of experience in finances and management, I knew nothing about the grocery industry. The store owners were happy to mentor me.
What are you proudest about in terms of your work?
I am proudest of the team we have built at the store. The grocery industry is busy, and a good working team is imperative to the success of moving forward with projects, and to the overall advancement of the store. The owners of the store truly believe in building trust with their employees and blending the complementary strengths of team members.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Managing a grocery store through a pandemic. At the beginning we were faced with panic buying, manufacturing shortages, staff shortages, and implementing safety protocols on our own. This is where teamwork really paid off, as without everyone working together we would not have been able to accomplish all that we did under the circumstances. Our team came together with creative ideas and made decisions effectively and efficiently.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
I have had many mentors over the years that have given me great advice, but one of the ones I always go back to is “the sign of a good manager is one who makes themselves replaceable.” The other advice would be to treat others the way you would like to be treated. And finally, to be flexible and open minded to change at all times.
What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest achievements?
The positive and respectful relationship our store has built with our surrounding communities. The Pemberton Valley Supermarket is known and respected as a business that contributes financially to support community events, fundraisers and not-for-profit groups. Over the years there have been many community initiatives from volunteer groups that have needed support, and I’m proud that the grocery store can do this for them. I’m also proud of our new online ordering system for curbside pickup and delivery, which provides a service our community has not had and which has been very helpful during COVID.
What do you like most about your job?
The grocery industry is a fast-paced environment and there is always a new and exciting challenge to inspire me. The owners of the store are great to work with, and I like being part of a company that gives back to the rural community I grew up in.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I would like to thank the owners and our team at Pemberton Valley Supermarket for believing in me. It is with your support I have been able to accomplish innovative new endeavours like the grocery delivery system.
Click here for the full list of 2021 Star Women in Grocery award winners.