2022 Star Women in Grocery winner Nicole Koveos (Q&A)
Store Level Star
Save-On-Foods Lynn Valley, North Vancouver
How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
When I was 18, I was in a serious car accident. I made the decision to take a year off from school before continuing on to become a registered nurse. During this hiatus, I was on the hunt for a part-time job and I noticed a Save-On-Foods was opening near my house. As my mom and I were driving by one night I remember saying, “I should apply there.” At the time, I never could have imagined the opportunities, the relationships or the fulfilling career that awaited me. Eighteen years later, I am the store manager at Save-On-Foods Lynn Valley.
Biggest challenge faced in your career?
Navigating through the pandemic has been the biggest challenge I have faced in my career. My team and I have had to learn from, and adapt to, an ever-changing grocery industry facing weakened supply chains, growing labour challenges, and evolving safety regulations. Keeping my team safe when so little was known about COVID-19 remained top of mind in everything we did. Nothing was normal and our teams came together to provide as much consistency as possible for our customers and each other. I am so proud of where we are today and what we’ve overcome. Our resiliency and teamwork made it all possible.
Career highlight/greatest achievement?
There are many highlights that come to mind, but two that stand out.
In 2019, when I was on the management team at Save-On-Foods Kerrisdale, we introduced sensory-friendly shopping. We wanted to make a difference for our shoppers on the spectrum, but it turned out more members of our community also benefited from the peaceful shopping experience. We dimmed the lights, turned off our music, turned our phones to vibrate and eliminated any noise we could during the designated hours. We did this twice a month and it was incredibly rewarding that we could offer this type of service to our community.
Another highlight I’m deeply proud of was putting together a local Women’s Entrepreneurial event in support of local businesswomen. We partnered with female-run businesses and showcased them and their products inside our store. All proceeds from the event went directly to a local women’s shelter we worked closely with.
My greatest career achievement to date is being promoted to store manager. Something that I will never forget is the day our president Darrell Jones and vice-president of retail operations, Paul Cope, promoted me!
Best advice received?
I was talking to my mentor about some career opportunities and telling her I didn’t think I was ready to take the next step. She said to take the plunge and figure it out as I go because no one ever has it all figured out. She encouraged me to be fearless. I took her advice and looking back it was one of the most pivotal moments in my career.
What do you like most about your job?
Every day I get to interact with amazing people-- our customers, our team members and our community partners. I especially enjoy mentoring others and helping them reach their personal goals and career milestones. I’ve had a lot of people help me along the way, so the most meaningful part of my job is being able to pay it forward. It’s always a good day when someone close to you calls to share their good news.
What are your passions outside of work?
When I’m not at work I try to spend as much time as I can with my friends and family. I love cooking and trying out new recipes, reading, and exploring new trails. I’m most excited about being able to travel again and see family I haven’t seen in years.
Click here for the full list of 2022 Star Women in Grocery award winners.