By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Please describe your role at Hy-Vee.
My position is an in-store retail dietitian. My primary function is to bring health and wellness to life in the store through a number of avenues including store tours, strategic signage, culinary demonstrations, consultations, store wellness events, television and radio segments.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and how you came to work at Hy-Vee?
Through high school and college I worked for a competitor of Hy-Vee in the meat department. While in college, I heard Hy-Vee was adding in-store dietitians. During my dietetic internship, I accepted a position at one of the Dubuque, Iowa Hy-Vee stores. I stayed there three and a half years. Next I worked for three years as a dietitian at the Marion, Iowa Hy-Vee store. Most recently I moved to Illinois, and am working at the Canton Hy-Vee.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
For me the greatest challenges have been adapting to different store directors’ expectations, learning shopper patterns in different stores/ markets and overcoming changes that flow down from the corporate level as retail continues to become more competitive.
There is a fine line between feeling an urgency to show a ROI for my store through dietitian service sales tracking, and feeling confident in the fact that I am the store’s health and brand ambassador and point of difference. A lot of what I do is difficult to measure using the sales metric.
What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in retail?
I wish I had learned to market my brand, services and events with all forms of marketing (print, media, digital). I’ve learned this on the job through trial and error.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
Not specifically, but I do sometimes have seasons of self-doubt. As a retail dietitian my role is completely different than other managers within the retail store. For me there is no turning in inventory and no supervising employees. The metric of my success is subjective to who’s measuring it. During these seasons of doubt I stay focused and positive. Collaborating with departments to plan and execute promotions and events helps me affirm the positive impact I do have on customers and employees.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that help you moved forward in your role?
My past retail work experience in a fast-paced meat department with my time at Hy-Vee has allowed me to understand retail very well. I’m also very hands on in the store. I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and work in the departments. This makes collaborating with departments to execute events and promote healthy choices much easier. Also, while at the Marion Hy-Vee I did some consulting in long term care; this tremendously built my confidence on the clinical side of retail.
Is there a program or initiative of which you are most proud?
I am most proud of the focus Hy-Vee places on making its customer’s lives easier, healthier and happier. As Hy-Vee moves forward its focus on Health and Wellness will continue to help it outshine the competition. I’m passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. I love that I have the autonomy to do that at Hy-Vee.
About Brian Schiel: Brian graduated from Iowa State University in 2011, with two Bachelor of Science degrees: Dietetics and Kinesiology and Health. In his free time he enjoys cooking, reading, and staying active in the gym and outdoors. In the near future he plans to attain a Certification in Exercise Physiology with ACSM and a CDR Board Certification in Gerontological Nutrition (CSG).