Today, we're pleased to highlight Jane Andrews, MS, RD, Wegmans Nutrition & Product Labeling Manager. Jane's teams translate food & nutrition science to better serve customers and staff. Her extensive experience as a retail dietitian and leader in the field have enabled her to build a strong team and set the bar for excellence when it comes to the application of nutrition in retail.
1. Tell us a little bit about Wegmans.
Wegmans is a family-owned supermarket based in Rochester New York. Started in 1916 as the Rochester Fruit and Vegetable Company we now have 81 stores in six states.
2. What’s the story on your experience in retail and your position with Wegmans?
In 1988, I worked in a preventive cardiology group at the local medical school. One project was community cholesterol screening at Wegmans. My key contact was leaving town, so I prodded the director of consumer affairs to consider me. She floated contract assignments, which I jumped at. Eventually she hired me half time, but was skeptical about ever growing the position. Within three3 years she insisted, “We need you full time, now!”
We are the voice of nutrition to consumers, staff and media. Three Rochester RDs report directly to me with an additional six divisional RDs forming our nutrition team. I manage the product labeling group as well.
3. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
There is no road map. No one has to consult with us. Influence grows as others come to recognize our value. Fortunately, Wegmans loves innovation and doesn’t mind an occasional failure. (I’ve had my share, thankfully balanced with successes.)
4. What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
Supermarkets fight for every penny in an ever-changing environment. We must keep learning in order to see opportunities. At update meetings I always ask questions when a term or an existing practice is unclear. Serving on cross-functional teams is a terrific way to learn because you see how goals get accomplished. At one point I realized that people only moved up when they had store experience. So, I asked to spend a day a week for several weeks in the Nature’s department at a store. It made me appreciate the complexity of our systems.
5. What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I’m creative and a team player, but was a novice at managing people. As the “one and only” I could control the nutrition messages, but that’s incredibly limiting. Being a manager is now my favorite part of the job. I love finding good people and helping them learn and grow.
6. Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
Eat Well, Live Well began as a 2004 Wegmans Menu Magazine feature to address the obesity epidemic. It has since morphed into community-based wellness programs. For example, my husband and son participate in Eat Well, Live Well teams where they work. The worksite is a powerful place to nudge the culture towards health. Wegmans is a BIG worksite with over 45,000 employees!