By Amanda Rubizhevsky
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
I have spent a majority of my career working in sports nutrition and communications, but working with Raley’s has been my favorite experience so far. When I first met Raley’s Owner & CEO, Michael Teel, I was so inspired. It’s a great feeling to meet someone so like-minded with a true passion for health and wellness. I never could have imagined the possibilities that exist within a grocery setting for a dietitian. Raley’s is a purpose-driven company that strives to make a meaningful difference in the world and I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of that purpose: to infuse life with health and happiness, by changing the way the world eats one plate at a time.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
The scale and complexity of retail! The retail RD role is fairly new to Raley’s and working in retail is new to me. Grocery is a dynamic and fast-paced business that requires a rather large learning curve. I continue to learn more about the business each day and how I can be most effective while supporting our company’s goals, team members and customers. There is quite a bit of strategy and flexibility, but that is what makes it so much fun.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
Raley’s has been serving our communities for over 80 years. Inspiring an established culture to embrace new concepts, such as wellness, takes some time. To be the most meaningful, I found it is important that the majority of the wellness education and engagement occurs organically. Wellness is personal and looks different for everyone. Team members have to be inspired and explore what wellness means for themselves first. You also have to take the time to learn where people are coming from and let them teach you a few things before you can provide any sort of recommendations.
Has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward?
Raley’s vision to infuse life with health and happiness is the driving force behind the wellness evolution. The entire organization is moving together to transition our stores to a more wellness centric organization. I spent the first six months focused on educating all of our leaders on key nutrition topics. When it comes to big initiatives and making the largest impact, it is essential to have leadership support.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
In the past, I was never really exposed to agriculture and large scale food industry, but I found that educating myself around these concepts further broadened my understanding of the field and allowed me to be more effective. I have also dedicated a lot of time to learning about the many different roles involved in retail and how they make the business tick - by spending time with our merchants, marketing teams, operations teams and other leaders.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
Recently we launched our internal team of “Wellness Champions” to serve as designated leaders in helping to inspire and engage all of our team members around wellness. I never could have imagined the impact and momentum this small group of people would have. A passion for health and nutrition is beginning to shine in just about every location Raley’s operates. There have been numerous team members publicly sharing their personal wellness stories - inspiring all of our team members to begin educating themselves. We are continually growing this team, sharing knowledge and building a unique culture that embraces health and wellness. This type of collaboration helps our team members further connect to our purpose, and helps customers make better food choices. This is all part of what we’re calling “Let’s Begin,” the start of our effort to change the way the world eats, one plate at a time; sharing with customers, that one small change will support their personal goals for a healthier life.
Emmie currently serves as the Wellness Evangelist for Raley’s. She is a board certified sports nutritionist and registered dietitian. Before coming to Raley’s, Emmie worked with professional and collegiate athletes, and served as the dietitian for the Navy SEALs. She also worked in public relations in Washington, DC, as a nutrition communications manager.
Raley’s Let’s Begin website: http://raleysletsbegin.com/