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Where are they now? Generation Next winner Justin McGregor

We catch up with past winners to find out what they've been up to since winning the award

Since 2011, Canadian Grocer’s Generation Next awards have been celebrating up-and-coming leaders (under 40) who are shaping the future of Canada’s grocery industry.

Wondering “where are they now?” we checked in with a few past winners to see how their careers have been shaping up since winning their Gen Next awards, and we'll be sharing these updates with you over the next couple weeks. Up next ...

2015 winner

JOB THEN: Store manager, Save-On-Foods

JOB NOW: General manager, restaurants, Save-On-Foods

What has changed in your career since winning the Generation Next Award? 
A lot has changed since my store manager days in Sidney, B.C.. The biggest career change has been moving from retail operations into merchandising when I joined our restaurant division. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to understand fresh merchandising, especially in a complex department like the restaurant. I am also working on my MBA degree, so needless to say, life has gotten quite a bit busier as well!

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? 
Early in my career, I was given the best piece of advice and I have never forgotten it: 'There are three types of people in the world: the people that make it happen, the people that watch it happen and the people that say ‘what just happened?’ When I heard this, I knew that I wanted to be the type of leader that would bring positive change into any area of business I was leading.

What do you like best about what you do? 
Save-On-Foods has provided me with the opportunity to learn several different roles within our organization. I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in both operations, merchandising and now restaurant. Although restaurant is a very challenging and complex area of our business, it also provides me with the opportunity to be innovative and creative, to develop meal solutions that meet the constantly changing trends and needs of our customers.

Are there any tough lessons you learned along the way? 
The most important career lesson that I have learned has been to look for ways to constantly challenge yourself. No matter the division of the business I am working in, I have learned that it’s so important to ensure that as a team we never settle for mediocrity. The moment that you stop challenging yourself, the growth of your business will likely plateau, and it is only a matter of time before a competitor takes it away from you.

What keeps you motivated? 
I love working with my team. The sky is the limit when you have a great group of people that work collaboratively and can challenge one another. We have a vision to make our kitchens the best in the grocery industry, not just nationally, but globally. Working with my team towards that vision keeps me motivated every single day.

What career accomplishment are you most proud of in the years following your Generation Next win? 
I have been so fortunate to grow my career with Save-On-Foods and I have had many opportunities to take on new and exciting challenges throughout my 16 years. The biggest accomplishment for me was when I recently accepted my current role as General Manager, Restaurant. This is a major milestone for me and I know I will continue to be a highlight in my career. In this position, I will be responsible for the restaurant division within our company. I am very proud to have direct oversight of the growth of such a key part of our business.

People would be surprised to know that I … 
I thoroughly enjoy music and learning how to play new instruments. A few years ago, during a family holiday in Scotland, I was inspired while watching a pipe band play in the beautiful seaside town of Oban, on the West Coast of Scotland. After that I decided that I would learn how to play the bagpipes. I took a couple lessons and watched a lot of YouTube videos to learn how to play the very challenging instrument. Last summer, I was able to surprise my father (who is the reason for my pride in my Scottish heritage) on his birthday by playing “Scotland the Brave” on my set of pipes while wearing the full ensemble, including a “McGregor” tartan kilt. He wasn’t aware that I was learning how to play, and it made for a very memorable family event.

Do you know a rising star in the grocery industry? Nominate them for this year’s Generation Next Awards. It’s quick and easy, but don’t delay! The deadline to enter/nominate is Sept. 30. 

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