On the 8th of March we celebrated International Women’s Day and wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic ladies that work at AGRO Merchants and share their stories.
Elizabeth Lund, Managing Director, AGRO Merchants Vineland
Q: Tell us a bit about your background.
Elizabeth: Believe it or not, my professional ‘career’ began in Worker’s Compensation as an Indemnity Adjuster. I quickly realized that was not what I wanted to do with my life, but not having the answer I decided to pursue further education with my MBA while working full time. At the point of graduation, I applied for a position at Target, being attracted to their culture and leadership focus. I spent about 4.5 years with Target experiencing a number of roles and relocations, all within Supply Chain/Distribution in a dry environment with little exposure to the food industry.
At that point, I joined Americold wanting to experience a completely different industry, 3rd party frozen food, but still in the Supply Chain field. With Americold I again appreciated and welcomed the multitude of roles and relocations, but none more than the experience that I had with everything from fish to frozen pizza and ice cream, from advanced WMS systems to some none existent, from complicated case pick programs to fish sticks, from customer interfacing discussions and negotiations to engagement with all levels of the organization.
It was at the point that I was Director of Operations for the Northeast, that I was given the opportunity to work for Agro Merchants in Vineland, NJ. This again was providing me the opportunity to embark on a new experience with produce and with repacking, while still embracing what I truly love which is operational efficiency/effectiveness and a team of amazing people. Whether my path was conventional or not, the decision to join Agro Merchants was the best of my career, not just for what I learn every day but for the people I work with.
Q:What does your role entail and what skills are important to have in your role?
Elizabeth: My current role as Managing Director of AGRO Merchants Vineland encompasses a number of core behaviors and responsibilities. There are a number of core competencies that I would consider to be the price of admission for this position, and simply put is separated into two buckets: People and Process.
In this role you have to have the courage and interpersonal skills to build, maintain and manage relationships across not only all levels of the organization but also with customers, potential customers and other outside agencies; like vendors, contractors, in our case 3rd party inspection agencies, community partners and so on.
Additional to that, you have to be able to be relatable, listen actively, have a clear path and identity for engagement as well as be able to demand performance and high levels of customer service. Multi-tasking, highly coordinated time management, and a high sense of execution is necessary to deliver not only the results that the company expects but what the customer deserves. From a process standpoint, there needs to be a high degree of understanding, influencing, collaborating and driving operational excellence through the education and execution of continuous improvement, strong best practices, and strong decision making skills that are harboured from a strong understanding of financial impacts and outcomes. Balancing all of these is a constant test of leadership skills and is a test that I constantly learn from every day!
Q: What do you like about your job?
Elizabeth: This is the first career decision I have made, where if someone asked me if I liked my job I would correct them by saying, I love this job! In my position, I have the ability every day to learn, to grow, to experience the industry through a number of different vantage points.
I have met and continue to meet great minds that influence me to think differently, and in doing all this, I get the pleasure of working with the most amazing people across all areas of this company. The experiences and learnings that I have had in the last 2 years have been the most accelerated, testing and leadership influencing that I have had in my entire career, and I am very grateful for that.
Q: What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career in cold storage / logistics?
Elizabeth: As with any leader, I would emphasise the importance of embracing and being true to who you are, be open to change and to feedback and to never stop pushing the fold. You will never know what you can do if you sit back.