Giant Foods General Manager Talks About Leadership and Food Retail

March 02, 2009 robin-michel

"Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you're going to do it." Giant Foods USA Executive Vice President and General Manager Robin Michel discussed her proactive leadership philosophy with Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business MBA students at a Leaders Breakfast on February 18. Michel, a food retail industry pioneer whose career has taken her all over the country representing 7-Eleven, Kroger, HEB, and Roundry's, traced the path she took from doing administrative office work to leading a food retail institution that runs 182 stores in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Michel characterized her leadership style as collaborative and based on "listening hard and being naturally curious, getting people to trust in their own abilities, not punishing people for their mistakes and encouraging people to do what they believe is right for the business." She also listed the ability to act quickly and be open to change as indispensible leadership traits.

During the Q&A, Michel answered students' questions on succession planning strategies and how brand managers can build solid relationships with retailers. She also shared her insights into how the economic crisis has affected buying habits. She said that shrinking household budgets have constrained consumers' abilities to buy bulk sizes and that more people are purchasing food for meals instead of eating at restaurants.

Michel stressed the importance of being passionate about careers throughout her talk. "I wake up every day knowing I have a billion things to do and that every day's going to be different. It's hard to maintain a work-life balance, but I truly love what I do."