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2023 Star Women in Grocery Award Winner Jessica Jones (Q&A)

Rising Star
Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones

Director of Procurement, External Manufacturing for North America
Kraft Heinz Canada

How did you get into the grocery/CPG industry? 

I’ve always been passionate about food. I come from a family of chefs, amateur and professional, and one where everything revolves around the dinner table. Some of my fondest memories growing up are about family cookouts with my 30-plus cousins and Sunday afternoons cooking and baking with my siblings, filling the house with aromas of the meal to come. As an engineer by education, the world of CPG allowed me to marry my technical, process and manufacturing-oriented side with my passion for feeding people. Knowing I would somehow contribute to making food that would line families’ cupboards, fill their fridges and consequently be a part of the meals they share together was the major appeal in coming into this industry. I joined Kraft Heinz in 2012 and have never looked back! 

What are some of your greatest career achievements? 

If I look broadly, I’d say managing to thrive through the constant changes in my career. I joined Kraft just as it was splitting with Mondelēz, I saw the merger with Heinz and the evolution and reorgs since then, and I lived through the supply chain and inflation crisis of the last few years. Although I was only a couple of years out of school when that journey began, I quickly understood the meaning of the saying “change is inevitable, growth is optional.” I take change as an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, learn and have a little fun! 

What is the most challenging aspect of your role – and how do you deal with it? 

Keeping your head up through the constant headwinds. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the last three or so years have been beyond challenging. Supply chain and procurement were not spared: The massive supply gaps and the rate at which inflation hit truly tested our perseverance, resiliency and ultimately our grit. The way I dealt and still deal with it is through our people. I am fortunate enough to work with amazing people who, like me, simply will refuse to quit, who rise from the ashes stronger and more determined, and refuse to waste a good crisis. That fuels me and keeps me going.   

What keeps you motivated at work? 

First, the people without a doubt. I am incredibly lucky to work with talented, strong-willed individuals who will push through all obstacles to achieve our company goals. Their energy is contagious, and it keeps me going. Secondly, my kids, specifically the excitement they have when they tell their friends, “My mama makes Ketchup!” or “My mama knows Smooth and Crunchy [the peanut butter bears].” I’m reminded through them of the power of the brands I have the privilege to support at Kraft Heinz and I’m instantly reinvigorated. 

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? 

In university, I wasn’t loving studying engineering and was contemplating quitting but wasn’t sure what else I would do. My father said he’d support me changing paths once I decided but until then, he would leave me with these words he wrote on a Post-it note, which I still have today: “You lead … you follow … or get out of the way!” Those words changed the way I live my life, both personally and professionally. There is nothing wrong with leading, nor is there with following. But you cannot afford to stand in the middle just waiting to figure it out. Make a choice and go. But you’ve got to make a choice!

What is your superpower? 

Being able to identify and leverage others’ strengths to the maximum. I am a firm believer that we as individuals are better when we are surrounded by people who are better than us, who challenge us to push ourselves, and who bring something different to the table. We achieve so much more when we stop trying to outdo each other, but rather, we feed from and fuel each other’s strengths. If you win, I win and, ultimately, we all win. 

How do you spend your time outside of work? 

As a mom of a three- and a five-year-old, my weekends are spent with them and my husband, split between gymnastics, ballet, skating, swimming and whatever other activity they’re taking at that time. We love to ski as a family in the winters and visit the zoo, parks and festivals in the summer. I also deeply wish I could somehow trade places with Joanna Gaines or Martha Stewart and have my own HGTV show or channel, but in the meantime, I love to do interior design, decorate extravagant birthday cakes, DIY and simply get my creative side out. 

Click here for the full list of 2023 Star Women in Grocery award winners. 

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