Issue link: http://magazine.progressivegrocer.com/i/689994
120 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | June 2016 Rising staRs Jody Beasley Manager, Product development-Market Centre, Unified grocers Beasley successfully nego- tiated container volume when sourcing products from Asia, leading to increased prof- its for both Unified and its retailers, and is in the process of establishing an importing training session for other Market Centre business units. She grew the seasonal pro- gram from nearly $5.8 million in 2011 to a projected $16.4 million in 2016 by tenaciously ensuring retailers have the correct products for their store formats. Her expertise was also in- strumental in gaining Raley's and Save Mart's business; Raley's seasonal business grew from $2.6 million in 2015 to a projected $6.5 million in 2016. MaRia gUido executive director, talent Management, Unified grocers Guido realigned the human relations solutions for a more strategic focus, and evolved the learning and development strategy from a reactive to a proactive approach by revising the external nominations strategy. She partnered with a cross- functional team of human resources and business unit leadership to identify and onboard an unprecedented number of employees within a short amount of time. Guido implemented two incentive plans for grocery/ frozen/deli and Market Centre procurement teams, which included redefining and clari- fying key performance success measurements for associates. stePhanie steineR director, sales-Market Centre, Unified grocers Steiner, who oversees the $144 million natural division, including the Natural Direc- tions brand, grew gross sales of Natural Directions by nearly 40 percent in one fiscal year. She reinvented Natural Di- rections' promotional calendar to reinforce the value of the brand's low cost of goods. This included increased display support while keeping the brand competitive and invest- ing in new products. Steiner created a compre- hensive presentation for the retail leadership and Market Centre teams, which was cited by decision-makers as a reason that they chose Market Centre as their supplier. elaine Cole director, deli and Prepared Foods, Weis Markets Cole oversaw the introduc- tion of a new fresh pre-sliced program that grossed more than $3.5 million by the end of the fiscal year, and is expected to more than double by the end of 2016. She implemented a hot- sandwich-to-go program, fea- turing breakfast, chicken and fresh-fried fish sandwiches, along with popcorn chicken. Cole received Weis' inaugu- ral Robert F. Weis Award for Achievement for her outstand- ing leadership and work to increase sales in the deli and prepared food departments. She led her team to add and change menus seasonally and developed a plan to introduce a new branding program. Kathleen Kennedy director, Financial Planning and Reporting, tops Markets llC Kennedy improved and accelerated Tops' annual budgeting process, with the fiscal 2016 budget finalized a month earlier than the previ- ous year's, and the financial statement close process ac- celerated by a day. Her more collaborative ap- proach to budget preparation included more involvement of leaders from all functional areas. She also played a key role in the company's debt refinancing last year. Through enhanced analy- ses, Kennedy and her team im- proved the flow and transpar- ency of financial information throughout the company. JenniFeR Payne Manager, talent Management and engagement, tops Markets llC Payne led the research implementation of an Ap- plicant Tracking System that modernizes the applicant onboarding process to reach a more tech-savvy Millennial workforce and improve the applicant completion rate. The new system also pro- vides substantial cost savings of about $743,000 over a five- year contract. She worked directly with the executive committee to refine the company's vision and mission, and to define company- level strategic objectives, as well as playing an active role in re- structuring the merchandising function and administration of the employee talent assessment. taBitha RUsK human Resources Manager, tops Markets llC Rusk implemented a heart- health program, which included providing a heart-healthy food option at every meal in the com- pany cafeteria, installing a blood pressure machine and publishing a weekly heart-healthy recipe. She added the human resources functions of 12 retail stores to her existing ware- house and transportation re- sponsibilities and implemented an online portal for manage- ment staff to easily access company information. Due to Rusk's proper manage- ment and recordkeeping, 100 per- cent of human rights, EEOC and Department of Labor complaints were dismissed, and intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act use was reduced by 30 percent. deBBie allen assistant treasurer, Unified grocers Allen, who oversees Unified Grocers' $370 million revolving credit facility, played a key role in Unified's benefits com- mittee bulk lump-sum buyout plan, which was estimated to save about $2.5 million. She also provided financial analy- sis for key strategic initiatives. She developed an enhanced cash forecasting model to more accurately predict the company's resources and use of cash that has enabled the company to better manage and lower its interest expense. Her leadership skills were on display when she promoted a 20- year employee and created an opportunity for the employee to use newly acquired knowledge and advance her career.