Karen Fernald

This entry is part 21 of 54 in the series

Karen FernaldKaren Fernald

Delhaize America, Food Lion Banner
Senior Vice President, Brand Strategy and Marketing, Food Lion

Years with company:
Throughout my 29 years with Delhaize America, I have held a variety of leadership positions.  I have served in various roles for Hannaford, Sweetbay, and most currently, the Food Lion banner.


Education and volunteer organizations:

  • BS, Business Administration, University of Southern Maine
  • Charlotte Chamber Advisory Board
  • Tampa Metropolitan YMCA Board of Directors

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
I have had the benefit of learning from an array of leaders over the years both personally and professionally.  I believe that every experience during your career provides an opportunity to learn, grow and enhance your own leadership.  Over the past 29 years, I’ve worked with many different leaders who approach their teams and workplace very differently.  In each situation, I always took advantage of opportunities to learn from positive experiences and evolve amid challenges to become a stronger leader.  As I have progressed in my profession and taken the opportunity to share insights I’ve learned over the years, I always encourage people to make sure you take this approach:  learn from every person and every opportunity that you encounter during your career.

Early in my career, one of my most influential, professional role models pushed me to slow down, think through the implications and have a solid plan.  I am a big believer in slowing down to speed up.  Furthermore, I am a strong supporter of leveraging data to drive my decisions, but I have found that it is also important to remember that business is an art and science.  In the end, make the decision that you believe is best given the information you have and then move forward from there.

My earliest lessons came from my mother.  She taught me that I could accomplish anything I wanted to do, but first, I would have to take initiative.  Things don’t happen by hope alone; you need a plan in business and in life.  She still reminds me of this truth to this day, though now her words of advice are usually about work-life balance and taking care of myself.

Advice for upcoming younger executives:
My advice to young professionals growing in the food industry: Go find your mentors and enlist, engage and enroll them in your development.  Don’t wait for them to find you.  Find your passion and voice, and bring it to everything you do.  Look beyond your personal conquests and strive for the team to win.  Work hard and have fun; it will get you through the hard work!  Celebrate success with your team and acknowledge what they do.  Sometimes it’s the little things that matter the most.  Surround yourself with a great team – talented, smart individuals with diversity of thought and experiences collectively lead to great outcomes.