2023 Star Women in Grocery Award Winner Sonya Fiorini (Q&A)

Rising Star
Sonya Fiorini
Sonya Fiorini

Sonya Fiorini

Director, CSR, Community Investment Executive Director, The Burnbrae Farms Foundation Burnbrae Farms

How did you get started or decide to focus on the environment/sustainability side of the grocery business?

Growing up in an Italian family, food has played an important part of my life. I have a degree in environmental studies, so my passion for the environment coupled with a respect for the land from which our food comes made working in the grocery industry a perfect choice for me. 

What has been your biggest challenge?

Trying to convince people to pay attention to the state of our planet and factor sustainability into business decisions. But thankfully, this has shifted. Without a healthy planet, businesses can’t survive long-term; the two go hand in hand. You don’t need to compromise profit to become a more sustainable company. In fact, today we see that consumer mindsets are changing and expect brands to align to their values.

Do you have a career highlight?

In 2008, I took on a role as senior director of CSR at Canada’s largest grocery retailer. It was a brand-new position and just starting to take flight. I was fortunate to chart a new path and help elevate sustainability as part of its strategic business priorities. Since then, I have used the lessons learned and applied them to my more recent roles. I am proud to have had the opportunity to bring various stakeholders together while encouraging collaboration in an honest and transparent way and respecting their diverse opinions.  

Did you have an idea where your career would take you?

I didn’t always have my entire career path mapped out. But what I have always had a strong conviction for was being driven by my passion to make a positive difference in everything I do. Without passion, what’s the point?  I have also had amazing influential leaders mentoring me along the way and have always believed you have to dream big and follow your heart. 

You support various causes. Tell us about those.

Ever since I can remember, I have volunteered with environmental organizations. I look forward to spending time every year with colleagues to get out in nature and pick up litter as part of shoreline/roadside cleanups. I know it may sound trivial, but there is something magical that happens when you are with a bunch of people who care about the environment like you do. I also volunteer and strive to raise awareness for causes and charities that focus on prevention, research and treatment for diseases that have touched my own family. As such, the Terry Fox Foundation and Parkinson Canada are among the important organizations close to my heart.

What is a fun fact about you?  

I created an environmental club at my high school back in the ’80s which is still going strong today. Also, at the start of COVID-19, I started virtual meditation classes with my colleagues and friends to try and help calm anxiety. It has been a great addition to my life.

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

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