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2023 Star Women in Grocery Award Winner Jolene Watsyk (Q&A)

Store-Level Star
Jolene Watsyk
Jolene Watsyk

Jolene Watsyk

Store Manager, Save-On-Foods South Point, Surrey, B.C.

How did you get started in the grocery business?

I started with our company 25 years ago as a clerk in the photo department in our West Maple Ridge Save-On-Foods. I was a part-time team member, taking university courses towards a different career. I found I really loved the grocery business and Save-On-Foods has incredible training programs for leadership. I entered our Retail Management Excellence training program, progressed through its three levels of training into a management role—and never looked back. 

What are some of your career highlights or proudest moments?

It’s quite an experience to run stores during renovation and major remodels and I’ve been lucky to be part of a few. Seeing the store and the team through the challenges of construction and change to adapt to our customers in our communities is a highlight of my career. One of the most rewarding moments I’ve had was a fundraising campaign we did in our Garrison Save-On-Foods location called “The Jumping Jo’s.” The community and the store did an incredible feat of raising $27,000 in just four months for BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH)—smashing through our goal—so myself and assistant manager Joanne had to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. This showed how a small community can achieve great things, in this case fundraising for BCCH, when we work together. 

What is your leadership style?

I would describe my leadership style as a combination of coaching and strategic styles: collaboration, support and guidance to achieve company, store and personal goals. Honesty, integrity and communication are key attributes to help gain respect from your team and are core to my personal values. In each store, I strive to create store teams that collaborate and communicate together. When the team understands the vision, with the knowledge of why we need to achieve it—and trust in each other—that translates to team, store and company successes.  

Why is it important to you to mentor future leaders?

Not to be cliché, but our people are our future. Sometimes it just takes a leader to nudge someone in the direction of self-growth, awareness and development for them to jumpstart or continue progressing their career in leadership. Our store teams are very diverse, and with support and mentorship, someone with untapped potential could advance to great things. Awakening or encouraging someone to take their career forward benefits the individual and our company’s future growth. They could maybe one day be the next VP or president of our company, and it all started with a nudge.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Several years ago, when I was still new to the role of store manager, Paul Cope who is now our senior vice-president of retail operations posed a question to me that made a lasting impact to how I view my role: “What is the fingerprint you are going to leave on the store?” That has since always been part of my vision and goals for a store. I want to make sustainable and long-term operational improvements that will last after I move on to my next role.       

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I enjoy time with friends and family. I love getting outdoors and enjoying our beautiful province, camping or hiking with my husband and our two big dogs.

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

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