Q. How has your career evolved over the years?
A. Born in Amman, Jordan to Samiha and Helmi, I am the middle child of four sisters and two brothers. I arrived in the U.S. while in high school. After college, I took a job with Skaggs Alpha Beta in Austin, TX. I started first on the front end, then, as my customer skills were recognized, I was moved to the deli. Just short of a year later, I was in the deli manager training program. After completing this training, I spent the next three years as a deli manager before being tapped for a merchandiser role in Dallas/Fort Worth, followed by Albuquerque, NM. After Skaggs divested these stores, I moved to Furr’s Supermarkets as a category manager/buyer. Seven years later, I was recruited to the Carolinas to a family-owned, local supermarket known as Lowes Foods. Over the next 20 years with Lowes Foods, I held the positions of merchandiser and category manager. I developed Lowes Food’s cheese training program in partnership with GFI through their Institute Du Fromage. I am currently studying for the American Cheese Society accreditation.
Q. What’s the best part of your job?
A. Without a doubt, the team that I work with. I am so fortunate to be part of a team that manages to make every day productive as well as enjoyable, making us excel at what we do and be stronger as a team.
Q. What inspires your leadership approach?
A. Our company culture, which is a powerful element that shapes my work enjoyment, my work relationships and my work processes to always deliver the best for our guests.
Q. What is something you cherish most about being a part of the grocery business?
A. The freedom to innovate and create an extraordinary and unique shopping experience for guests.
Q: What deli retail trends have impacted the industry most over the last year?
A. Snacking, food on the go or handy eats are results of consumer demand for convenience. Charcuterie and cheese boards are driving record growth in the category and creating a buzz in social media. Wholesome components, from clean labeling and organic to nutritious ingredients, satisfy multitude forms of health and wellness.
Q: What technology or technical tools are indispensable to you in the workplace and why?
A. Cloud-based platforms allow us to work conveniently and collaboratively from anywhere. Communication tools, platforms such as Skype or Zoom with quality microphones and video conferencing features are used collaboratively.
Q: What have been the biggest changes in the deli industry over the course of your career?
A. Inclusivity, including global foods, dietary options and socially conducive ambience. Customization and unique offerings. Sustainability, transparency and local sourcing. Value for the dollar in food and convenience.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome on the job?
A. Keeping abreast of all the information on trends and innovation to stay relevant and deliver the best value for our guests.
Q: What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
A. Reading and traveling.
Q: Are you married? If so, how long? How many children?A. I’m divorced with two wonderful daughters – Tarah and Norah.