2021 Star Women in Grocery winner Melanie Rioux (Q&A)
Canadian Grocer staff
National Sales Director
Coca-Cola Limited Canada
How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
I started my career in the foodservice industry, and quickly developed a passion for customer experience excellence, operations, as well as supplier and customer partnerships. I joined Coca-Cola 20 years ago and progressed through the organization with responsibilities across local and national partners. I’ve had the privilege to work with foodservice/restaurant customers, national C&G and over the last eight years with grocery, drug and mass retailers.
What are your career highlights/greatest achievements?
Consistently delivering on our company objectives over the years, while building a strong industry network and long-term partnerships is certainly my proudest achievement. Most recently, in 2020, I was able to deliver results that were well ahead of the company, despite a challenging year with the disruptions of COVID. While I am results-oriented and focused on growing our joint businesses, I have a passion for building high-performing teams—and those two are absolutely connected! I’m a champion of diversity, including diversity of thought, experience and background. The talent of the team that surrounds me continues to inspire me day after day.
What do you like most about your job?
Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with amazing leaders and mentors who have really made a mark and influenced my journey. I am very grateful for the trust and support those leaders have and continue to provide me. And now I get to help develop the next generation of leaders and play a bigger role in shaping our organization.
I also really enjoy the nature of the grocery industry—it’s very dynamic and competitive. I am inspired by the role grocers play in the community, the strength of the store network, how important grocery is as one of the key employers in Canada, and how they make a difference in Canadian families’ lives. We’ve seen that role elevated even further over the last year.
What is your proudest moment?
Last year has certainly brought a great deal of challenges. I am very proud of how we were able to adapt as a team and as an organization, being empathic and flexible, and remain focused on delivering on our customer promises. I am equally proud of how we navigated this situation with our partners. The grocery industry really stepped up, putting the security and safety of our employees and customers first, while delivering exceptional service in one of our most challenging years in decades.
What is your best quality?
Authentic leadership is part of who I am and what my values are. I strive to build honest relationships, show transparency, be open and stay true to who I am, while being respectful of others.
What is the best advice you received?
"The only one who stops you is yourself. Go for it!" I believe we can achieve anything we want with hard work, passion, and being purposeful in our choices. Women tend to wait to be fully ready before raising their hands, sharing opinions, or expressing the desire for a promotion. A turning point earlier in my career was when I realized how hard I was on myself, and how that was slowing my ability to grow and explore my full potential. I learned to better trust myself and accept that it is okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from it!
Anything else you’d like to say?
Last year really exposed some of our vulnerability as an industry, while making us stronger as a network. I am very optimistic and thrilled with the transformational changes and growth opportunities ahead. I look forward to what the future will bring!
Click here for the full list of 2021 Star Women in Grocery award winners.