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2022 Star Women in Grocery winner Mariline Mailhot (Q&A)

Rising Star

Mariline Mailhot

Director of Marketing, Innovation and Product Development—Ice Cream
Agropur Cooperative


How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?

During my studies in chemical engineering, I did an internship in packaging development at Kraft. I loved the job – I have always found the creative side of R&D very stimulating. Then, in 2011, I joined Danone as a project manager in R&D packaging. Later on I was promoted to brand manager for Activia, which was where I learned a lot about marketing, business strategy and portfolio management. Today I’m responsible for Agropur’s ice cream portfolio strategy, innovation roadmap, marketing plans, as well as its execution. In the last four years, I’m very proud to say I contributed to the launch of over 150 new ice cream products on the Canadian market under Agropur’s brands and private-label brands.

What do you like most about your job?

I contribute to building the future of Canadian food. My team develops and launches products—frozen treats in our case—that respond to the evolving needs of our customers and consumers. My favourite part is to do this through a collaborative approach with our cross-functional teams and our customers. That’s how we find relevant solutions that are win-win-win for us, our customers and consumers.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

Confidence doesn’t come from knowing what will happen, it comes from knowing you can adapt no matter what happens. It’s with this mindset that I’ve been able to take on atypical career opportunities, from R&D to marketing. I think that truly helped me bring value to the organizations I’ve worked for, as I was able to capitalize on my strengths, be true to myself and develop my potential.

What do you think is your best quality?

My optimism. I see possibilities in every situation, and I’m fascinated by new ideas and perceptions. I’m hopeful and confident about the future and the successful outcome of anything I take on. This allows me to always challenge the status quo and lead people to find innovative solutions. I believe I’ve been able to carve a place for myself by daring to think outside the box and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest career achievements so far?

One of the career achievements I’m most proud of so far is Natrel mochis. My team was responsible for the development and industrialization of this ice cream treat wrapped in rice dough. It’s a unique product in the Canadian ice cream category, and Agropur is the only manufacturer of ice cream mochis in Canada. I’m also very proud to have positioned Agropur as the No. 1 private-label ice cream supplier in Canada, thanks to our on-going and strong innovation roadmaps, as well as collaborative processes with our customers.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I’m passionate about travelling and scuba diving. Being underwater allows me to refocus. I’ve had the opportunity to dive in mythical sites such as the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and Komodo in Indonesia.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I believe in empowerment. Everyone can find their own way, bring value by capitalizing on their strengths and stay true to themselves. On my team, I like to have people with diverse backgrounds as it contributes to a richer, fuller work environment.

Click here for the full list of 2022 Star Women in Grocery award winners.

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