2022 Star Women in Grocery winner Jessica Armstrong (Q&A)
Senior Level Star
Maple Leaf Foods
How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
I’ve had a rather unique career path, starting in sales with a scrap metal company that led me to financial services for a few years. My older sister had a career in CPG that had always intrigued me, which ultimately led me to an early/mid-career change into an account manager role with Kimberly-Clark. After a couple years on account and category management, I took on KC’s first e-commerce role, which then took me to Unilever to build out their e-comm unit for almost six years, and I’m now at Maple Leaf Foods in my third year building out our digital commerce future.
Biggest challenge faced in your career?
Being a working mom. From the nervousness of planning for and going on maternity leave, to the return to work and now juggling two jobs: work and being a mom. I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself and accept that I can’t be in two places at once and that I need to make and keep the boundaries that help me find the right balance. I make sure I’m 110% present and making the time count when I’m at work and the same when with my family. Thankfully, Maple Leaf Foods is a great organization that never makes me feel I need to sacrifice one for the other.
Best advice received?
Richard Branson said: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” Every time I’ve felt intimidated by an opportunity I’ve thought of this quote and gone for it, and it’s served me well every time. It goes hand in hand with advice I’ve received directly, which is “you grow the most when you step out of your comfort zone.”
How would you describe your leadership style/philosophy?
I believe in servant leadership and providing my team as much freedom as possible, especially in the entrepreneurial (e-commerce) space we operate in. My most important job is to define our collective ambition, with the team’s input of course, and then break down any barriers that get in their way. When they succeed, I succeed.
What do you like most about your job?
The people I get to work with every day, and the fact that we are building a business unit from the ground up. I’m surrounded by incredibly talented people who are equally as curious and ambitious as I am. What more could I ask for?
What are your passions outside of work?
My family. I’m a wife and a mother to two (a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl) and they keep us very busy and very entertained! Outside of that I love travel, skiing, cycling and gardening.
Click here for the full list of 2022 Star Women in Grocery award winners.