Asked to describe their colleague Rosemary Jones, her fellow executives at Brookshire Grocery Co. don’t hesitate, quick to offer terms such as “whirlwind,” “powerhouse of efficiency” and “tenacious leader.”
But what is it really like working with Jones, who held many leadership positions before becoming BGC’s EVP, chief people officer/legal? The consensus: What gives Jones the ability to lead so well is the respect she has earned from peers.
Suzanne Vance Osbourn, EVP, partner relations and development, works closely with Jones on a daily basis. Although the two have known each other for years, Osbourn appreciates the care Jones has shown for people after joining BGC.
“Respect is gained and earned and I think that speaks volumes to her because she has the respect,” Osbourn said. “She has the respect of the executive staff, she has the respect of retail, she has the respect of store directors. It’s earned. It’s nothing you just get. She came into the area of HR and showed she had a heart for the partners.”
Throughout her nearly 40 years with BGC, Osbourn has seen a lot. But she said the changes since Jones came aboard were needed.
“Whenever Rosemary stepped into the HR role, she was a change agent. And it was at a time that we really needed a change agent,” Osbourn said. “She was able to come in and implement procedures, a culture where the partners really had a voice.”
Along with changing the culture, Brad Brookshire wanted more focus on diversity, equity and inclusion within BGC.
That responsibility was first undertaken by Jones but now falls to Terrence Dixon, SVP, administration and communication. He has not forgotten where Jones started with it.
“I knew her when she was our outside legal counsel, before she came in-house and joined the company,” he said. “And we were neighbors for a number of years…right across the street. I knew that Rosemary was being talked to and being considered. I thought it was just an awesome decision for us to bring her on, with all of the familiarity that she had with our company.”
Dixon reflected on a number of policies and procedures that had undergone “a lot of starts and stops” before Jones really pushed them forward. One of those was focusing more on DE&I.
“Under Rosemary’s leadership, we’ve seen a lot of things through to completion, a lot of our recognition programs,” he said. “When Rosemary came to this office specifically, we didn’t have a lot of recognition for our folks in corporate. She was one that was very instrumental in helping guide change.
“She’s very instrumental in helping us to stay focused on our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and programs. They weren’t specifically on the forefront before she joined but have been since then and continue to be.”
He explained that working with her helped “maneuver resources” into place that expanded the DE&I focus within Brookshire’s. He said that working with her makes him strive to be better.
“I’ve learned a lot from Rosemary. Working with her and seeing her drive, it’s just something you aspire to be. Her expertise in the legal field has served extremely well and helped us within the scope of what we do. She pushes us all to be better.”
Osbourn and Dixon see Jones’ drive as a steppingstone for women within BGC and throughout the grocery industry.
“Just from observations and being in the industry, from an executive level, I personally have not seen as many women in top levels of leadership. Rosemary is blazing paths,” Dixon said. “She sets a great example for many to follow.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be just for women. I think anybody who works with her knows her as a shining example for the employee partners of our company. We hope that others will follow suit and follow in her career path.”
Added Osbourn, “The industry itself is very male dominated for the most part. But she comes in and you just feel the way the people around her respect her. She is just hardworking and knows how to get things done…It’s been that way since she came on. She is just a driving force at Brookshire’s.”
For more information, visit brookshires.com.