Andrea McKenna

This entry is part 26 of 33 in the series

Andrea McKenna Friendly Ice CreamAndrea McKenna

Company: Friendly Ice Cream Corp.

Years with company: Six months

Current position and your immediate supervisor:
Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer, reporting to chairman and chief executive officer

Education degrees and professional/volunteer affiliates:
B.A. from The College of the Holy Cross, Executive Management courses with Harvard Business School and Darden Graduate School of Business Administration

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
Various executives from multiple disciplines have been instrumental in my career, demonstrating the value of collaboration, the importance of people in any organization and in helping me hone my strategic skills.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?
I am most proud of situations in which I have provided a challenging environment for talented executives to understand business needs and deliver powerful results.

Most challenging part of your job:
Balancing the power of brand heritage with a contemporary approach to make a brand relevant and contemporary for today’s consumers in this rapidly evolving, fast- paced environment.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
Find your passion and pursue it.  Demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm.  Show a willingness to learn and appreciate all experiences as opportunities to learn and develop professionally.

Hobbies:
Music, cooking, health and fitness.

Kristi Strickland

This entry is part 31 of 33 in the series

Kristi Strickland Dunkin’ Brands, Inc.Kristi Strickland

Dunkin’ Brands, Inc.

Years with company:  Five years

Current position and your immediate supervisor:
Field Marketing Director, Dunkin’ Donuts, reporting to the Global Chief Marketing Officer John Costello.

 

 

Education degrees and professional/volunteer affiliates:

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Retail Marketing Minor, East Carolina University.
  • Volunteer affiliates:  Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation, Interfaith Food Shuttle

Mentors and how have they assisted your career:
I have had the privilege of working with several mentors in my career and one of the most important lessons learned is to put people first.  This is a people business, if you take care of the people, they will take care of the business.  Hire the right people, set the course, and then clear the way.  I have taken this lesson to heart and it has led to much personal and professional success.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?
Working for an iconic brand and supporting franchisees that have such tremendous entrepreneurial spirit provides me rewarding moments every day.  Two recent accomplishments that I am most proud of are:  First, being a part of the leadership team that created a regional Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation Golf Event that raised over $100,000 in two years and assisted regional charities in serving those in need, in their neighborhoods.  Secondly, devising a strategic plan, side by side with franchisees, that helped increase sales and profits during the most challenging economic environment.

Most challenging part of your job:
The quick service food industry is fast-paced and very competitive.  While the external headwinds remain strong and can cause many distractions, it is crucial to stay focused and on course.  Always maintain a proactive position, anticipating the potential impacts.  It is also important to have a strong contingency plan in place that can satisfy the short term business need, and at the same time, remains aligned with long term goals.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
As leaders, we must have the ability to influence others.  To be a good influencer, you must be a good communicator, and check in with those you lead frequently to stay aligned and working toward the stated goals.  I’ve found that when communicating, with any size group, start with three key points that are action-oriented and easy to remember.  Reiterate and support those points throughout the conversation or presentation.  When you see those key points being shared and acted on in a meaningful way, you know you have successfully influenced others and progress is being made.  One other bit of advice is to listen first and always keep an open mind because the next best idea will come from the most unexpected place!

 Hobbies:
Most of my hobbies take place outdoors.  I’m an avid golfer and snow skier.  I enjoying hiking and make time, at least once a week, for a long hike with my 10-year-old son and two Labrador Retrievers.  Also, anything dealing with music.  Music is inspirational for me, I love most all genres.  Whenever possible, I attend concerts and music festivals.  My favorite is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Suzanne Staples

This entry is part 32 of 33 in the series

Suzanne-Staples-TriMarkSuzanne Staples

Trimark United East

Years with company:  21 Years

Current position: 
Director of Design. The Interior Design Department does not require much direction. Our valuable Trimark Team consists of unusually talented and capable professional women. They are all highly motivated, dedicated and proficient in their area of expertise.

Immediate supervisor:
Robert Collins, senior vice-president of contract sales.

Education degree and professional/volunteer affiliates:

  • B.A. Psychology, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois.
  • Interior Design, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I. (Adult Education)

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
My family, who were always supportive and proud of my accomplishments.

The Halpern, Bean and Goldberg family members who owned and operated United Restaurant Equipment Company. They offered me my first interior design position after I graduated from college. At that time I worked with Jerry Hyman when he was a salesman. Now he is president of the Trimark USA Companies located throughout the United States. His vision of success and business savvy have allowed him to stay the course over many years of company change and growth. I am thankful to be part of his many accomplishments.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?

  • Project openings when clients, guests, and all disciplines involved are happy, relaxed and proud of the completed interior design.
  • Specific industry awards and commendations:
  • The first time that I designed our Boston restaurant show booth and we won “Best of Show.”
  • Interior Design recognition from my company and our vendors on completion of the new Trimark United East Headquarters in South Attleboro, Mass.
  • To date I am honored by the Griffin Report’s nomination of “A Women of Influence in the Food Industry for 2010.”

Most challenging part of your job:
To satisfy client design objectives on time and within budget.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
Remain positive, flexible and focused. Although rewarding, interior design is hard work and very demanding. Think “out of the box,” there is always another creative solution.

Hobbies:
Ballroom dancing, all forms of exercise and sports, boating and fashion design. Signature perfume creation and celebrating holidays and major sporting events with family and friends.

Elisa Shannon

This entry is part 33 of 33 in the series

EShannonElisa Shannon

Greater Boston Food Bank

Years with company: Three years with the company, 28 in the industry.

Current position and your immediate supervisor:

I have spent my entire career in the food industry and now hold the position of director of food acquisition at The Greater Boston Food Bank. I report to the chief operating officer.

 

Education degrees and professional/volunteer affiliates:

Education: Master’s in Business (MBA)

Professional affiliates: Frozen and Refrigerated Assn. of the Northeast (board member); National Restaurant Assn./Mass. Restaurant Assn.; New England Produce Council; Network of Executive Women; Food  Beverage Assn Thailand; American Chamber of Commerce Thailand (former board member); co-founder, Professional Women Assn. of Thailand.

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
First and foremost would be my family, especially my father. His dream was to solve world hunger and he was recognized by the United Nations for his efforts. Sadly, he passed away without seeing his dream come to fruition. Growing up in the food industry (turkey business) provided me with many mentor opportunities. My family taught me the value system I live by today; combined with the extended family business members who surrounded me, I experienced many teaching moments throughout my youth. I was and continue to be fortunate to have mentoring relationships with each position throughout my career. Integrity is the word that resonates mentor to mentor. Additionally, my husband provides continued support and encouragement.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?
My work increasing food safety awareness on the local, national and international level. As owner of a food safety management company based in Southeast Asia, I had the opportunity to influence food safety legislation overseas as well as educate leaders in the U.S. Congress on the global implications of food safety. In addition to my passion for food safety, I continue to be extremely passionate about hunger relief. My work overseas included food sourcing for Bangkok inner city slum schools and an AIDS hospice operated by the Human Development Foundation. Additionally I worked with the UNDP on Mekong River Delta sustainability projects. Both endeavors helped lead me to my work with the Greater Boston Food Bank, the leading hunger relief organization in New England and a member of the Feeding America network, which is very exciting and rewarding.

Most challenging part of your job:
Building awareness of hunger in eastern Mass., among individuals and businesses while working to meet a need that continues to grow in this economy as the food industry increases operating efficiencies, resulting in fewer and more time-sensitive donations.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
The food industry is a vibrant industry with so many avenues of opportunity. Always be professional in your approach and remember that integrity is the key to success. Your reputation is yours and yours alone to develop. Always conduct yourself with dignity and honesty in ever aspect of your life.

Hobbies:
Cooking, boating, fly fishing, and traveling.

Neesha Seervai

This entry is part 30 of 33 in the series

Neesha Seervai Apple MetroNeesha Seervai

Apple Metro

Years with company: 12 years

Current position and your immediate supervisor:
Current position is director of operations and immediate supervisor is Miguel Fernandez.

 

 

Education degrees and professional/volunteer affiliates:  

  • Saint John’s Management Degree
  • Women’s Food Service Forum Member, Bronx Chamber of Commerce  member

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
The mentors in my life have been people with attributes of selflessness, wisdom and understanding.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?
I am proud in my own career to move up quickly as the first woman area director and first woman director of operations for Apple Metro.   I am equally proud to have helped in the development of the people who work for me and to watch them grow to managers, general managers and area directors.

Most challenging part of your job:
Hiring the right people

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
Hope is not a strategy.  Planning and dedication with hard work will help you achieve your results.

Hobbies:
Taking care of my 10-year-old daughter Samantha.  This is my other full-time job

Sharon Rossi

This entry is part 29 of 33 in the series

Sharon Rossi  UnileverSharon Rossi

Unilever

Years with company:  21 years

Current position:
Vice President of Customer Development, Customer Operations and Retail Excellence

 

Education degrees and professional/volunteer affiliates:

  • M.A., University of Illinois; B.A., University of Massachusetts
  • Board member, Healthy Lifestyle Choices; board member, American Heart Association, member of the Network of Executive Women.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?
I am so very proud to be part of a company that manufacturers high quality products with brands like Breyers,  Ben & Jerry’s, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Suave, Vaseline and Dove, while maintaining its unwavering commitment to sustainability. Working for a company that is committed to sustainability enables me to collaborate closely with suppliers and retail partners to meet our shared business objectives while simultaneously addressing the social, economic and environmental challenges of our day.  It is this work that is not only personally fulfilling but that has helped to contribute to Unilever being named sustainability leader in the food and beverage super-sector of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the 12th consecutive year.  This recognition highlights the consistency of our performance in key sustainability indicators and is a unique achievement among more than 300 companies in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes World sample.

A defining moment in my career came in 2008 when I was asked to join the Board of Directors of Healthy Lifestyle Choices (HLC).  HLC is a non-profit organization that empowers children with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices, including to balance a healthy diet with physical activity, to resolve conflict peacefully, to think and act safely, and to avoid harmful substances.  HLC achieves its mission through school-day and out-of-school-time behavior-based curriculums, school-based culture initiatives and as well as media messaging for both children and parents.  Healthy Lifestyle Choices is active in advocating for health and education, providing professional development opportunities for educators, and supporting both local and national organizations, which share this mission ( HYPERLINK “http://www.hlconline.org” www.hlconline.org).    It was a humbling honor to be asked to serve on HLC’s board in 2008, and then to be asked in 2010 to also serve as chairwoman of the Programming Committee.  Advising HLC on their strategy is a tremendous privilege and an honor to make a meaningful difference in the lives of currently over 200,000 children in 44 states who receive HLC programming.

What thoughts or advice do you have for upcoming younger executives?
My advice for upcoming younger executives is this:  be open to new opportunities that aren’t part of your perceived “career map,” strive to always exceed expectations with exceptional results, keep focused on making positive change, and enjoy the journey!

Hobbies:
Playing golf, cheering on the Boston Red Sox, and spending time with family and friends.

Erica Auciello Murphy

This entry is part 28 of 33 in the series

Erica Auciello Murphy The Common Man New HampshireErica Auciello Murphy

The Common Man Family in New Hampshire

Years with company:  Five years in May

Current position and your immediate supervisor:
Director of Communications & Community Relations. Direct supervisor: Jason M. Lyon, CEO

 

 

Education and professional/volunteer affiliates:

  • B.A. in Communications, 1995, University of New Hampshire
  • Graduate, Leadership Manchester
  • New Hampshire Union Leader’s “Forty Under 40” list in 2010
  • PR & Media Award from The New Hampshire Travel Council in 2008
  • Immediate past president and current board member, Noah’s Ark Child Care Center
  • Board member, NH Travel Council
  • Board member, The Cinderella Project of New Hampshire
  • Past board member, Greater Manchester Chapter of the American Red Cross

Mentors and how they have assisted you in your career:
The mentor I hold most dear was my first boss in the public relations field. Al Cappannelli was a man of great patience and inspiration, and helped me lay the ground work for a successful career in public relations. Al was taken from us far too early, passing from cancer at the age of 40.  I still think of him every day and often stop during my work to ponder what he’d think about a press release I’m writing or what he’d say about a crazy idea I have for a press event.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or defining moment of your career to date?
I am unbelievably proud to work for The Common Man family, a company that truly understands commitment to its employees, guests and community.  I am amazed by the creativity and generosity of everyone involved with the company, from our owner to our operations team to our more than 1,000 STARS.  I am fortunate that when I was rethinking the balance between having a career and raising a family, that The Common Man offered me the opportunity to do both. It’s because of their dedication to me and creating a flexible work environment that I feel I can continue to be successful in both my career and in caring for and enjoying my family.

Most challenging part of your job:
As the one-person marketing, P.R., communications and community relations department for our 18 Common Man family restaurants, two Inns, Spa & Salon, Company Store and new Flying Monkey Movie House and Performance Center, the most challenging part of my job at times is keeping up with it all!  With so many advances in the ways we can reach our guests – web, e-mail marketing, SMS text, social media and more — I try very hard to stay on top of trends and try new ways to connect with our guests so our brand is top of mind.

Thoughts for upcoming younger executives:
Start early and find internships that are out there and available to you. There is nothing like real world experience.  I believe in internships so much that I worked with our CEO to start a program at The Common Man.

Hobbies:
Hockey mom, family time at Lake Winnipesaukee, reading, concerts, testing new social media platforms.

 

Karen Meleta

This entry is part 27 of 33 in the series

Karen Meleta  Wakefern Food Corp.Karen Meleta

Wakefern Food Corp.

Years with company: 11 years

Current position and your immediate supervisor:
Vice president of consumer and corporate communications. Immediate supervisor is Joseph Sheridan, executive vice president

 

 

Education degrees and professional/volunteer affiliates:

  • Rutgers University, M.B.A.
  • New York University, B.F.A.
  • Komen for the Cure, North Jersey Affiliate-Member of the Board of Directors
  • Community Foodbank of New Jersey-Member of the Board of Directors
  • Food Marketing Institute, Sustainability Executive Committee-Vice Chairman
  • Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)- member

 

 

 

Mentors and how they have assisted you in your career:
I’ve had a number of mentors throughout my career; many of them have been outside of a traditional mentoring role. There are people who have influenced how I lead and manage my staff, plan for the future and approach the work I do every day. I find that sometimes the best kernels of wisdom are passed on in the most unexpected of circumstances from people you least expect. One of my mentors was a college professor who I continue to connect with to this day— his insights were invaluable at the early stages of my career and he continues to offer advice only a lifelong mentor could provide.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?
The one accomplishment that is most significant for me personally is my role in continuing Wakefern/ShopRite’s commitment to fighting hunger. Our company has a long history in working with regional food banks and local hunger fighting charities and I am very proud to work to continue that commitment into the future. Our ShopRite Partners In Caring Fund has donated more than $24 million to the cause in the past decade. My hope is to keep it going for years to come.

Most challenging part of the job:
I don’t know if it’s the most challenging part, but it certainly is the most interesting — and that is that every day there is some new challenge or issue we have to address. Being in consumer and corporate communications, a wide array of issues comes across my desk — from rising food prices to new government regulations or legislation to sustainability trends and issues. Navigating those issues and understanding their impact on our customers and our company keeps my division busy – the days go very quickly.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
It’s a wonderful opportunity to grow in a company and be given increasing responsibility, but make sure you love what you do — that you’re passionate about it and that you work with great people. A great career, without great working relationships, comes up short at the end of the day.

Andrea McKenna

This entry is part 24 of 69 in the series

Andrea McKenna Friendly Ice CreamAndrea McKenna

Friendly Ice Cream Corp.

Years with company: Six months

Current position and your immediate supervisor:
Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer, reporting to chairman and chief executive officer

Education degrees and professional/volunteer affiliates:
B.A. from The College of the Holy Cross, Executive Management courses with Harvard Business School and Darden Graduate School of Business Administration

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
Various executives from multiple disciplines have been instrumental in my career, demonstrating the value of collaboration, the importance of people in any organization and in helping me hone my strategic skills.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?
I am most proud of situations in which I have provided a challenging environment for talented executives to understand business needs and deliver powerful results.

Most challenging part of your job:
Balancing the power of brand heritage with a contemporary approach to make a brand relevant and contemporary for today’s consumers in this rapidly evolving, fast- paced environment.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
Find your passion and pursue it.  Demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm.  Show a willingness to learn and appreciate all experiences as opportunities to learn and develop professionally.

Hobbies:
Music, cooking, health and fitness.

 

Jamielee King

This entry is part 25 of 33 in the series

Jamielee King of C&SJamielee King

C&S Wholesale Grocers

Years with company: Started working at C&S in 1983, giving me 27 years experience in the business.

Current position and your immediate supervisor:
Sr. Director Grocery Procurement, responsible for service level and inventory management for nine of our facilities, servicing multiple customers, including S&S, Giant of Landover, Giant of Carlisle, A&P, and Safeway/Genuardi’s.

Supervisor is Jay Sharrock, vice president of non perishable procurement.

Education degrees and professional/volunteer affiliates:
No college education, only High School diploma. No professional/volunteer affiliates.

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
My mentors at C&S have been several over the course of my career in the Procurement Department.

Ron Wright, Sr. stated in a team meeting at the early part of my career that ” you are all replaceable, and don’t forget it!”  This message has stayed with me through the years. It instilled in me the determination and diligence each and every day to go 150 percent above and beyond and never get comfortable in my seat, but stay on the edge of the chair, crossing all my T’s and dotting all my I’s. Bob Palmer and Tracy Moore also mentored me in my early years to be assertive but professional; never accepting no for an answer and asking all the right questions, however big or small the task at hand.  They both taught me to look into root causes, helping me understand what changes needed to be made in order to not make the same mistakes twice.

My current boss, Jay Sharrock, continues to mentor me. He keeps me focused on looking ahead and reaching for change, thinking in a strategic, proactive manner. He has coached me to use my skill sets and experience in the department to grow our staff to the highest levels they are willing to reach, building our “bench strength” day-in and day-out.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?
Being a part of my team members’ personal growth is one of the greatest rewards the job offers, second to “braggingly happy customers.”

Most challenging part of your job:
The most challenging part of my job has to be the inventory front. Manufacturer outs, short-coded inventory and discontinued items are at the top of the list.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
Advice I would give young executives would be to soak in all the expertise you are exposed to, listening to your peers, as well as asking a lot of questions.

 

Hobbies:

Vacations in the sun, watching my three sons grow into responsible young men, husbands and fathers, as well as being the best grandmother I can be to my two beautiful grandchildren.