2022 Star Women in Grocery winner Michèle Théberge (Q&A)
Senior Level Star
VP, Global Quality
How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
After completing a degree in biological sciences, I continued my studies at the graduate level with a master’s degree in industrial microbiology. Already my fascination for the dairy industry, Agropur Cooperative in particular, was growing. But it was an opportunity to join the pharmaceutical industry that first presented itself. After a successful 25-year career assuring the compliance, purity, effectiveness, and safety of life-saving products, I made the transition to the food industry with great enthusiasm in 2015 as quality leader with Agropur.
What do you think is your best quality?
I want to make everything right, and right the first time. Being a perfectionist is a key characteristic when you aim to deliver the best quality dairy products to your consumers and clients. It is reflected by setting high expectations, continuously raising the bar, developing the best teams, making processes simple and effective, and tackling risks and challenges proactively.
What is your leadership style or philosophy?
My leadership style is democratic and participative. I value collaboration, communication, and trust within my team to raise engagement, so everyone feels valued. The importance of having a clear vision and realistic path to achieve it, is the foundation of high-performing teams and ensures continuity. I am a firm believer that encouraging individuals to deliver their very best every day makes organizations successful and allows people to learn and grow faster.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career, so far?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced in my career is linked to getting the value of the quality function recognized by all. It is important to me that quality teams partner with commercial and technical operations teams as we all share the same objectives. Quality is a key differentiator in a crowded market, but this is an effort that requires strong ownership and accountability of everyone in the organization.
What has been a career highlight?
The achievements that I am most proud of are the highly skilled teams that I have successfully built over the years. The return on investment for me as a leader, is the opportunity to celebrate a strong level of engagement cultivated by understanding how the team contributes to the overall mission of the organization.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
I value quiet and peaceful time in nature. I can spend hours just listening to the wind and birds, looking towards the horizon and lake, and appreciating the smell of nature after a good rain. I’m passionate about anything that relates to nature. I love fishing, growing a small garden, and transforming it into healthy meals shared with my family and friends. It is very important for me to maintain close relationships with my friends, many of whom I met at work, and often enjoy a great wine and cheese with them.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am so grateful for having been selected as one of the Star Women winners for 2022. For me it is also a recognition of the value quality leaders bring to the CPG industry.
Click here for the full list of 2022 Star Women in Grocery award winners.