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2014 WGA Mary Macey Scholarship Winner Talks Prepared Foods, Prepared Leaders


Last updated on June 29th, 2015 at 01:31 pm

Sometimes, the simplest messages are the most powerful. When 2014 Mary Macey Scholarship recipient Kaeley Latow was asked what initially attracted her to the retail grocery industry, she responded, “I love food and I love working with people.”

This time last year, the Women Grocers of America (WGA) awarded college scholarships to Latow and three other students pursuing careers in the retail grocery business. WGA caught up with Latow at Nugget Markets in Northern California, where she currently serves as corporate director of kitchen operations.

Latow’s career began six and half years ago at the deli counter, and she has been on the rise ever since. She attributes her well-rounded grocery experience to the learning environment afforded to associates in an independent company.

“I felt that in a smaller, independent atmosphere I would be able to work closely with everybody in the company and gain a better exposure to all aspects of the grocery business. To my great happiness, this has proved to be true. Since being hired, I have worked at store level, in our training department, and at corporate spanning across kitchens, coffee bar, front end, and bakery departments. I have learned so much from all of these different experiences and I don’t think I would have had the same opportunity in a chain store.”

While there are many benefits, independents obviously face challenges as well. One challenge that Latow says impacts her daily operations is staying on top of prepared foods trends and outselling the larger chains.

“I think that because we are an independent and still relatively small we can more easily jump on trending or popular items and incorporate them into our sets quicker than larger chain companies. However, we must make sure that we are diligent in figuring out what these trends are and implementing them immediately.”

Latow is addressing this issue, and many others, while also making time for another priority: mentoring.

“One of my favorite aspects of my job is helping people to learn and grow; really figure out their dreams and goals and help them achieve those things. I think one of the greatest satisfactions in life is helping other people. I’m happy to say that I have positively impacted many associates throughout my career at Nugget.”

In addition to professional mentoring, working full-time and earning several promotions at Nugget, Latow will also receive her MBA from UC Davis in December 2016. With a focused passion for food and people, paired with a strong independent spirit, Latow is clearly a WGA Mary Macey Scholarship success story.

Are you a student or do you know a student pursuing a career in the retail grocery industry? Go to: http://www.nationalgrocers.org/who-we-are/nga-special-programs/wga for 2015 Mary Macey Scholarship application instructions and details.

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