Kathleen Ferguson

This entry is part 15 of 33 in the series

Kathy Ferguson JOHKathleen Ferguson

Johnson O’Hare Co., Inc.

Years with company: Five years

Current position and your immediate supervisor:
Vice President of Sales, JOH Specialty Foods, a division of JOH ; immediate supervisor is Art Papazian, EVP JOH Specialty Foods, and current mentor.

Education degrees and professional/volunteer affiliates:
Bachelors degree in Marketing and Management from Northeastern University graduated cum laude in 1987;    Professional organizations:  NEW-Committee Member, MFA, NEFF,

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
I have had many mentors over the past 27 years in the food industry but the following three really stand out for me and guided me during the early days of my career are:  Terry Sheehan, Jim Fowler and Nancy Kubilus.  Terry encouraged me to push the boundaries and try out different areas within the organization and under her tutelage I continued to succeed and move forward at Star Market.  Jim Fowler was the first store manager that I worked for as  assistant store manager, I then worked with him as the Recruitment Manager and as a Category Manager at Shaw’s Supermarket.  Jim helped me to see the importance of relationships and details within our everyday work.  He was always there to give me advice and encouragement.  Nancy Kubilus and I worked side by side and she trained me to be a buyer and category manager.  She was setting up the first Wild Harvest and taught me how to set up the World Market program at Star Market.  Over the years, Nancy has been invaluable in helping me to navigate my way through the CPG industry as a whole.  Her insights into specialty and natural foods have helped me to be able to work in the areas that I am passionate about and excel in.  She taught me that it is very important to surround yourself with people who have the same values and work ethic so that you can all succeed as a team.  For personal mentors, my parents,  Joanne and Richard Sullivan for instilling the work ethic and telling me I can be whoever I want to be as long as I did it with integrity and fairness and my husband Phil who has been with me for over 20 years, has been incredibly supportive and lived through the crazy hours this life demands!

What are your most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?
I have several things I am proud of in my career.  I started as a green management development trainee and moved forward to one of the most important, setting up the World Market area within Star Market from the ground up and seeing it grow into what it is today.  I started my own brokerage company in 2003.  It is so scary and exhilarating being on my own but it allowed me to grow and make mistakes and in the end to determine that I work best as part of a team like I have at JOH today.  Finally, I have mentored several young women within the industry and seeing how they have turned out and continue to grow and excel is the best part of all.

Most challenging part of your job:
The most challenging part of my job is also the most rewarding part of the job:  getting people to see that a product can be successful if given the opportunity.   Balancing work and personal life is also very difficult.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
Work hard and don’t compromise your integrity or professionalism for anything.  It is important to be able to look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and like who you see.

Going to New England Patriots games, collecting rare cookbooks,  trying out new restaurants,  travel, movies,  and reading.