Carmen Fortino. Photography by Mike Ford
Executive vice-president, national supply chain and procurement, Metro
Carmen Fortino’s roots in grocery run deep. He got his start at age 15, with a part-time job at a Dominion (a chain that Metro would eventually acquire) in Stoney Creek, Ont. Later, he went to work in the family business – Fortinos Supermarkets. He stayed on after the family sold its Ontario grocery stores to Loblaw in 1988 and by the time he parted ways with Loblaw, in 2007, he had ascended to the post of executive vice-president, Loblaw, Ontario region.
After a seven-year stint in the health and wellness sector, Fortino says a “fateful” meeting with Metro CEO Eric La Flèche ultimately wooed him back to grocery. “Our one-hour meeting turned into four hours and subsequent meetings after that, and it got my juices flowing,” recalls Fortino. “Once grocery is in your blood, it’s there.”
Since joining Metro in 2014, Fortino has successfully led the retailer’s Ontario division and has added national supply chain to his responsibilities. Currently, he is transitioning to the role of executive vice-president national supply chain and procurement.
When asked how he accounts for his success, Fortino is quick to say it’s about “being surrounded by great people.” His approach to leadership is to create an environment where making a mistake is not the end of the world. “I don’t like to live in the safe zone. I like to push the envelope and try things and see what works and what doesn’t,” he says. “A big emphasis for me is creating an environment of trust where people can be themselves and express themselves and where we all learn from each other’s triumphs and mistakes.”
He credits his dad, Luciano, for his work ethic. “My dad was a huge influence on my life,” he says, adding that his father, an immigrant from Italy, helped set his emotional intelligence compass and instilled in him the importance of hard work. “I remember when I started my first job at Dominion, I was nervous, and I remember him telling me like it was yesterday: ‘Just make sure you give them 10% more than what they’re expecting and everything will be fine.’ I learned a lot from my dad.”
In addition to being “extremely” proud of his roots in the Fortinos’ business, Fortino says he’s proud to have joined Metro. “Metro was a relatively young Ontario company at the time. It acquired all A&P, Dominion, Miracle Mart, The Barn, Loeb – there were a bunch of different businesses that it acquired in the Ontario landscape, and I was lucky enough to get involved at a time when I could help weave all those different cultures into one culture, called Metro, which I’m really proud of.”