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2023 Star Women in Grocery Award Winner Marie-Claude Bernard (Q&A)

Rising Star
Marie-Claude Bernard
Marie-Claude Bernard

Marie-Claude Bernard

Senior Marketing Director
Metro Quebec Food Division

How did you get your start in the grocery business?

I graduated in 1999 when I was 21. Lucky for me, at the time there were many marketing jobs available. I was given the chance to start as a manager at News Canada Marketing owned by News Corp. where I oversaw the sampling program in Quebec. I learned fast how-to prioritize, to manage employees, and how retailers were thinking. I had to co-ordinate the program with many retailers in Quebec and the food manufacturers were our main clients. After this, I stayed in the grocery business in sales, in advertising agencies and now at Metro.

What keeps you passionate about your work?

I would say many things: intellectual stimulation—nothing is more fulfilling than to engage your mind and continuously learning new things. When I started in marketing, there used to be the concept of the "four Ps": product, price, place and promotion. This has evolved with the arrival of internet and the digital possibilities. How to reach consumers is so complex but so interesting and we need to become experts to challenge our teams and make the right media decisions.

Making a positive impact is another one—to make a difference in your company results, to contribute to the growth of employees, creating innovative solutions is a great source of passion for meAnd, finally, collaboration and connection: working with others who share similar goals, having great human connections is important for my personal growth and development. Building relationships, sharing ideas and achieving common objectives is definitely energizing and helps me maintain my enthusiasm for my work.

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

I started managing people very early in my career. My team was older than me and I had to earn their respect. It was a real struggle. My management believed in me, so it gave me strength. I made sure to communicate our plans, our objectives and how we could improve. I never gave up;  communication was the key. It seems simple but it’s effective. By the time I transferred to another department, I had overcome this perception by demonstrating my competences, my knowledge but also, we had built together a track record of success with the highest score of satisfaction with our clients. My team was proud and finally understood why I was hired in that position, and some even transferred to continue to work for me in my new department.

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

"Stay true to yourself" is the best advice I’ve received. Why? Because when you are genuine and authentic, you don’t try to be someone you’re not, even in the corporate world. This authenticity allows me to build honest and meaningful relationships at work and in my personal life.

Little did I know this advice would also mean that I should also embrace my strengths, weaknesses and unique qualities. This self-acceptance helped me build my confidence, a positive self-image and helped me to not constantly seek validation or pretend to be someone else to fit in. Also, when you stay true to yourself, you pursue your interests and values and engage in a job or activities that bring you joy and satisfaction.

Finally, this advice helped me make better decisions because they are based on my own values, priorities and intuition. I truly believe that this has led to my personal fulfilment and success.

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

I make sure to enjoy life. Work hard, play hard and live by it. My two boys and my husband are my world. My in-laws have a cottage in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and we go there each weekend during the winter and summer to ski, do activities on the lake, to just enjoy life. We also  invite our friends and their families. I am still friends with my crew from high school and we are having fun just like when we were teenagers. Human connections are what I love the most outside my work.  

What is a fun fact about you?

I am a joker. I obviously take my job seriously, but I enjoy a good laugh.  

Anything else you'd like to add?

Remember, being a woman in a male-dominated industry like the grocery business can be challenging for some, but it also presents an opportunity to create positive change and inspire others.  Embrace your unique perspective and strengths, and I wish all women would be lucky to work in an inclusive workplace such as Metro.

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

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