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2021 Star Women in Grocery winner Paula Bonner (Q&A)

Senior-level star

Paula Bonner

Senior Vice-President, Format Development and Real Estate
Walmart Canada


What is the best advice you’ve received?

Obtaining breadth of experience as early as possible in your career will serve you well as you gain more senior roles. Don’t always think you need to move upwards in an organization—lateral changes can be far more enjoyable in the short term and beneficial in the long term.

How did you get into the grocery business?

By chance! I obtained my finance degree at the University of Manitoba and had just started my CMA, when I was hired by Westfair Foods as an internal auditor. After three years touring the stores and distribution centres, I decided retail looked pretty interesting and I joined the merchandising team in Calgary. I was hooked!

How would you describe your leadership style/philosophy?

I’ve had the good fortune to be on several high performing teams. I strive to create an environment where this is possible—through clear communication, being approachable, providing feedback and helping to remove barriers. Listen, ask questions, empathize and empower. If things don’t work out as planned, be there to support. Create a trusting relationship, and then enjoy watching people succeed. That is the most gratifying part of my job now.

Career highlight/greatest achievement?

I have had the unique opportunity to work on the reinvention of our Supercentres at Walmart Canada for the last several years. It has been amazing to see our business evolve and the impact we are creating for Canadians today and for the future.

What you like most about your job?

Success in retail comes with obsession about customers, and our associates. I love working on initiatives that improve our customer proposition. Whether that is about driving down prices, or in my current role, improving the experience when our customers shop today, or by developing innovations for their omni shop in the future. For associates, it is the best feeling to “hand the keys” to a store manager to run a new or remodelled store. I am very fortunate to impact both in my role at Walmart.

Click here for the full list of 2021 Star Women in Grocery award winners.

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