Stephanie Ames, manager of Kimberley’s Save-On-Foods, has been recognized for her dedication to her work and community with a Star Women in Grocery award from Canadian Grocer magazine.
“It definitely came as a surprise, that’s for sure,” Ames said. “It’s not why I do it, I do things because they’re the right things to do and not for the recognition. So it definitely means a lot for my organization to nominate me.”
Canadian Grocer has been acknowledging women in the grocery industry with these awards since 2012, recognizing qualities such as expertise, innovation and leadership and making an impact and changing the food retail landscape.
Save-On-Foods nominated Ames, as well as Brenna Gillespie, manager of Ecommerce Operations and Carla Turnbull, manager of Save-On-Foods Summerwood and Sherwood Park, AB. From there, Canadian Grocer selected them to be recognized with awards, though Ames didn’t even know she had been nominated.
Ames, who has been with Save-On-Foods for 11 years, told the Bulletin that her company nominated her because she is a strong entrepreneurial leader, she’s become a cornerstone in her community, she fosters a strong culture of caring in her store and she keeps her senior team members engaged while also welcoming in new team members from day one.
“That kind of sums up what I do,” she said. “I do focus on my community and that includes team members, they’re all community team members here. I just want to create a culture that’s accepting, compassionate towards each other, while driving for results, that’s kind of who I am.”
Without a doubt, this year has presented some unique and difficult challenges for people like Ames, who have been working right through since the onset of the pandemic. In addition to all the new regulations imposed, her store is also in the process of a major construction project.
“Besides the obvious challenges that we’ve had this year, the biggest challenge that I face is ensuring the safety of my team members in the community, because regardless of how COVID has impacted our business, at the end of the day there’s a real disease out there,” Ames said.
“I have people’s children here, I have people’s mothers and fathers and grandparents — and my number one priority is their health and safety of our team members and our customers.”
Ames has done a phenomenal job of being confident in the measures they’ve had to take at the store level to ensure the safest possible conditions for their team members and their customers.
Though the pandemic has presented a great deal of uncertainty and many hurdles to overcome, Ames said the silver lining to come out of all of it is seeing her team and community come together to rise above.
“One of the best outcomes out of all of this is team camaraderie. I have students stepping up, I have all my senior team members stepping up. We’ve just become closer and I’m just blown away every day by seeing how well the team comes together, the communication that they have with each other, the mutual respect. That’s been a big win out of all this, it’s just strengthened our bond.”
She added that the community has been extremely supportive of her and her staff and have been very understanding and cooperative with the new safety measures that have been implemented.
“I think the biggest mantra right now is just be kind to one another, not that people aren’t, but it’s just a good reminder for people,” she said.
“The community has been phenomenal through all of this. There isn’t many people that are unhappy, I see a ton of customers wearing masks which makes me more confident about the safety. People aren’t getting upset about anything, I think, overall it’s really positive how the community has been supporting us.”
Ames said she always tries to be as humble as possible, and winning an award like this hasn’t really sunk in yet.
“Like I said before, I try and do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not for awards or recognition or any thanks,” she said. “I want to work in a culture where we have mutual respect and care for one another so that’s the culture that we build here.
“It’s all about taking care of each other as human beings, and then everything else falls into place if you have respect and care for each other, it might be harder to do it that way, just energy wise, but it definitely pays off in the long run, and i just couldn’t be prouder to be a part of Kimberley and to also be a leader in my store because the team here makes me better every day and I’m just so thankful for the people I get to work with every day.”