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Where are they now? Generation Next winner Kelly Herdin

We caught up with this past Generation Next Award winner to find out what she's been up to since winning in 2014
2014 Generation Next winner Kelly Herdin

Canadian Grocer’s Generation Next awards debuted in 2011 to honour the grocery industry’s rising stars (under age 40). We recently caught up with a few past winners to find out how their careers have been shaping up—including Kelly Herdin, who won the award in 2014. Here’s what she had to say:

Job then: Business analyst consumer insights, Federated Co-operatives Limited

Job now: Consumer marketing manager, Federated Co-operatives Limited

What's changed in your career since winning the Generation Next Award?

A few months after winning the Generation Next Award I moved into the role of food marketing manager at Federated Co-operatives Limited, where I was given the opportunity to lead the strategic development, direction, creation and communication of all central marketing and promotions developed on behalf of 250-plus Co-op food stores across Western Canada. This included the weekly flyer program, digital/social marketing and in-store advertising. Five years after receiving the Generation Next Award I was honoured to be the recipient of Canadian Grocer's Star Women in Grocery Award. Shortly thereafter, I took on an expanded role as consumer marketing manager where my portfolio grew to include central marketing for all of Co-op’s consumer business lines including Food/Pharmacy, Convenience store/Gas bar, and Home and Building Centre. Our focus today is about offering the best customer experience to our members across all of our consumer touchpoints and supporting our local Co-ops as they connect with and inspire their local customers and communities.

What do you like best about your job?

The people! I thrive in a workspace where I can feed off the passion of others and we can get excited about the work we are doing. Luckily, I work with very passionate teams who are also extremely knowledgeable, which makes coming to work every day very motivating. Even through the depths of COVID and the virtual office we are working in today, there is a lot of passion for the industries we operate in whether it be food, energy or customer experience. Our teams care about what they do and it shows.

What has been your proudest career accomplishment following your Gen Next win?

My biggest career accomplishment is being able to do what I love every day. I thoroughly enjoy marketing, problem solving and finding new ways to connect with and inspire our customers. Seeing members engage with local Co-ops is very rewarding. Whether it be through the products they buy in the food store, the cup of coffee at the convenience store or an engagement with our Facebook post, it is very rewarding to watch the impact of our team's efforts when it comes to connecting with our customers.

What's the best career advice you've ever received?

One of my previous team leaders always said, “Data without decision making is overhead.” This quote has stuck with me from the beginning of my career at Co-op. Getting access to vast amounts of information and data might be easy in today’s market, but what really counts are the insights we get from that data and the decisions we make based on those learnings.

Are there any tough lessons you've learned along the way?

My biggest learning over the years has been to find balance and trust. I completed my MBA while working my full-time job and starting a family. Through this experience I learned the importance of balance and how to focus my attention on what truly mattered, and to be even more productive and efficient with my time. Secondly, I believe that having trust in your teams is the only way to be seen as a credible and motivating leader. It is also the only way you can truly have an engaged and passionate team that will continue to think outside the box and look for new and innovate ways to deliver results.

What keeps you motivated?

Growth. I am motivated by the opportunity for growth and continuous improvement in the way we do things. The industries we compete in are changing everyday, which brings new opportunities, new insights and new ways of doing things. There is never a dull moment!

What's your favourite thing about working in this industry?

It is always changing! While food [retail] is an essential service, the industry itself and the way in which we deliver food to our communities is constantly changing, evolving and shifting. I love this about the industry because it allows us to gather new insights, evolve and shift to get closer to the customer and offer a stronger customer experience.

Do you know a rising star in the grocery industry? Nominate them now for this year’s Generation Next Awards. It’s quick and easy, but don’t delay! The deadline to enter/nominate is September 15. 

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