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2023 Star Women in Grocery Award Winner Lori Verna (Q&A)

Senior-Level Star
Lori Verna
Lori Verna

Lori Verna

VP, Supply Chain Systems
Loblaw Technology & Analytics/Loblaw

How did you get your start in the grocery business?

My first job was as a cashier in a No Frills store—no better way to learn the grocery business than a store! My passion for linking grocery to technology space merged when I started at Loblaw more than 11 years ago as a member of our HR team leading technology recruitment. I worked to optimize and accelerate our recruitment tools and supported the implementation of Workday [software]. Since then, I spent time in our Enterprise Procurement Group, again focused on cloud implementations and business process transformation. Then moving into Loblaw Technology, where I focused on providing innovative and streamlined technology solutions for the business. Today, I serve as vice president of supply chain systems where my team empowers our distribution centres and supply chain operations with stable, secure and innovative technology.

Throughout my many roles at Loblaw, there has always been one thing in common—supporting my two most important stakeholders: more than 200,000 colleagues and the millions of Canadians who shop with us.

What keeps you passionate about your work?

I have always been a natural problem solver with a relentless passion to deliver. My best work is done solving complex, multifaceted problems that enable transformation. In supporting Canada’s largest supply chain network, the stakes are extremely high. I love that I get to lead a team that plays a key role in enabling our company to seamlessly get products on shelves—from forecasting to delivery. This passion is reignited every time I shop in our stores with my two children or speak to friends and family about the work I do. I can see the results of my team’s work every day.

What is a career challenge you've faced and how did you overcome it?

As a woman executive in the male-dominated industries of Technology and Supply Chain, it didn’t surprise me to hear “I have never had a woman leader before,” from members of my team. 

I am passionate about mentoring and championing leaders to get the right balance of people and voices at the table. After spending time as a leader of Loblaw’s Women in Technology employee resource group, part of our Go Further Women DEI pillar, we have made a measurable difference in the representation of women in management roles and within our department overall.

How would you describe your leadership style?

To sum it up, I would say: consistent and authentic. I am always aiming to create culture of trust and transparency that enables an effective team. I am a “get stuff done” person and have brought that energy to my team. Together we want to be known for our urgency, ownership, and accountability. 

What is the best advice you've received in your career?

Stay curious, ask questions, and seek to understand. Approaching a problem or situation without any preconceived notions is a unique asset you can bring to the table. When I am faced with a challenge or an area where I do not have foundational knowledge—I always lead with logic. 

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Myself, my husband and two kids are a family of foodies (which serves me well being in the grocery industry!). As a family we either frequent various local restaurants or find ways to cook a fantastic meal at home. When cooking we never go without a great record playing in the background.

What is a fun fact about you?

I love dry humour and can watch Curb Your Enthusiasm on repeat. 

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

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