The Shelby Report and The Grocery Group together present this series, People to Watch, to focus on current and future leadership in the grocery industry. In this installment, Grocery Group Founder and CEO Cindy Sorensen interviews Alexandra Rae Danell, marketing manager with Country Sweet Produce.
Tell me a little bit about you and what you like to do with your time away from the office.
I own my own business called Harvest Joy, which works on behalf of the farmer to provide agriculture insight and communicate the importance of agriculture to consumers. By using a personal approach in content, they can break down the information easier. That educates consumers on how food gets from farm to table. But when I am not doing that, I horseback ride three to four times a week. It also gives me an opportunity to work with my hands after being at a computer all day.
Please provide a brief description of Country Sweet Produce.
Grown and packed in Bakersfield California, Country Sweet Produce proudly supplies consumers with conventional and organic commodities from a family of California growers.
The Bako Sweet brand represents the best of what a California fresh produce operation has to offer.
Country Sweet Produce’s flagship crop is sweet potatoes, bringing delicious, versatile and quality product to retail partners.
The company’s packing and shipping operation at Country Sweet Produce is close to major highways in all directions and just 90 miles from Los Angeles, the center of agricultural distribution for the nation.
The company spends as much effort cultivating and maintaining relationships with its customers in Southern California as it does in cultivating the grower’s crops and maintaining the land.
What is your role?
As marketing manager, I plan and manage all CSP design strategies as related to brand development and with regard to communications, advertising, packaging, trade show management, website, social media and outreach to consumers.
What was your career path to this position?
I worked as a sales and merchandising representative for Grimmway Farms right out of college. Then I worked for a medical company as marketing manager to gain experience with marketing.
During my time there, I started Harvest Joy as a way to stay connected in the produce industry. Then in March of 2020, I started with Country Sweet Produce.
What do you see as the greatest opportunities for workforce and leadership development within the grocery industry?
Mentorship within a company. Employees can learn a lot from someone with more experience. That can give them a vision to succeed in their current role and an opportunity to grow in the company.
Do you personally play a role in helping to develop/coach/mentor future leadership in the industry?
If there is a student that wants to ask me how to network or get their dream job, I am here to encourage them.
What advice do you have for college students and young professionals looking at the grocery industry to build a career?
Do not be picky. If you don’t find your dream job out of college, don’t panic. You might have to start somewhere lower to gain experience, and that is OK.
Go to LinkedIn and find people with the roles you want. Look at the different roles they took to get that position, and then search for something similar.
As you built your career to this point, what pieces of advice did you receive that you found most helpful?
Do not be afraid of failing; you will just keep learning from it. Also, work hard to get the job done on time.
In addition, be a man or woman of your word. If you promised something, stick to it. Your reputation outlasts everything else.