Industry leaders share advice at new mentoring event

At the inaugural Star Women in Grocery Mentoring Lunch, mentors connected with mentees for lively career-building discussions

With the theme of “advancing future leaders,” the first ever Star Women in Grocery Mentoring Lunch—presented by Canadian Grocer and Kraft Heinz—took place right after Canadian Grocer’s Star Women in Grocery Awards Breakfast at Toronto’s International Centre on Sept. 18.

"The industry has been asking us to grow the Star Women in Grocery Awards. So this year we are proud to bring this new event to the grocery channel with our partner Kraft Heinz," said Jennifer Litterick, CEO of EnsembleIQ, which owns Canadian Grocer.

READ: Star Women panel talks leadership, mentorship and finding your voice

The mentoring event kicked off with a talk from Vivek Sood, executive vice-president of related businesses at Sobeys. Sood focused much of his talk on the many reasons why diversity and inclusion are so important in business today. “[Diversity and inclusion> drives innovation and it helps us attract and retain the best of the best,” he said.

On the topic of mentorship, he told a personal story of how an early mentor from his days as a student at Dalhousie University helped directly shape his career success. “If you seek out mentorship and somebody mentors you, you can achieve anything.”

Following Sood’s talk, the mentorship sessions began. There were more than 120 attendees at the invitation-only event, split up into 15 tables. At each table was one of 15 designated mentors (all of whom were women), with each mentor leading one of three break-out discussion topics—enhancing your network, communicating, and awareness—with three different groups.

Each group discussed a variety of issues, from overcoming fear of failure and “imposter syndrome,” to traits great leaders possess and how building your network can help your career.

Krista Payne, director of operations at Sobeys, was one of the mentors on hand. She called it “a day of inspiration and education,” and noted that she heard many attendees say at the end that they couldn’t wait for next year’s event. “Great table discussion took place and new networks formed, as participants discussed commonalities with solutions around enhancing their networks, communication and awareness,” said Payne.

"There was such a positive energy in the room," added Shannon Skinner, director of supply chain optimization at Metro Inc., who was also a mentor at the event and a 2017 Star Women in Grocery winner.

"Although there were women in different stages of their careers and from different business sectors, everyone was very open and the conversation flowed naturally," said Skinner. "Most importantly, this event not only engaged a few hours of meaningful dialogue, but has provided a network for us to utilize in the future."

Check out the photo gallery below to see the mentors and mentees in action.

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