2022 Star Women in Grocery winner Elise Nicholson (Q&A)
Director, Market Development
How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
After graduating university, I spent a year working in Japan. As I pondered how to officially launch my career, a senior business executive recommended I start in sales. Upon my return home from Japan, I applied for a sales role at Pepsi Beverages placing vending machines in businesses across Toronto. I am fortunate to have spent my entire career in CPG at great companies including PepsiCo, Nestlé and now Conagra Brands.
What do you like most about your job?
First, it’s having a voice in decision making no matter who you are with or what situation is being discussed. Thoughts and opinions are encouraged and respected at Conagra Brands, which makes it a great place to work. Second is my team and colleagues. I am fortunate to work with people who are passionate, smart, candid and hardworking, which is a key factor in making my job great.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
Early in my career, a manager I respected said to have confidence in myself. Knowing this individual had confidence in me, encouraged me to have confidence in myself. Many people are pushed to focus on their opportunities, however, I have focused on leveraging my strengths as much as developing my opportunities. This is advice I pass on to others with the hope that it helps them as much as it has me.
What do you think is your best quality?
When presented with an opportunity or faced with a business problem, I try to be proactive in getting a cross-functional team together and developing an action plan. In advance of the meeting, I put together a structure with supporting data in a format that will facilitate the discussion and decision making. Having others contribute and buy into solutions is important to me, and I have found this to be an effective method for gaining alignment and moving the business forward in a timely manner.
What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest career achievements so far?
I’ve been privileged to have had many diverse experiences over my career across sales and marketing functions, as well as across many different channels of business. My career highlight is the relationships I’ve built with incredibly talented people within the companies I have worked, and the customers with whom I have partnered.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
With three kids who play competitive hockey, I have had the luxury of visiting almost every arena in Southern Ontario! When I’m not working or at an arena, I cherish the time I spend sharing food with close friends (especially if I don’t have to cook), good tasting wine, laughs and advice for life’s challenges.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m tremendously honoured to have been nominated for this award. A special thank you to Leslie MacKay, vice-president of sales, and the Conagra Brands team for this recognition.
Click here for the full list of 2022 Star Women in Grocery award winners.