5 questions with Lori Raya
Monday, February 13, 2012
"Own your success early in your career.”
February 2012, Lori Raya became the first woman president of Safeway Inc.’s
Vons division. She previously served as senior vice president, main meal, where
she had responsibility for the company’s largest portfolio of center-store
business units including ingredients, beverages and snacks.Raya joined
Safeway nearly 25 years ago as a clerk in the company’s Denver division. She
progressed through the retail ranks, taking assignments at the company’s
corporate office, and then as district manager at Vons and vice president,
retail operations in Safeway’s Northern California division. In 2009, Raya
joined the perishable marketing team as group vice president, deli/food service
and bakery, and was promoted to senior vice president with added responsibility
for dairy/refrigerated and frozen food.
When you began your career at Safeway, did you have a plan for
advancing to the company's top ranks?
absolutely not. I was actually coaching at a local high school during college
and I needed a summer job. The hiring manager and all of the employees were
great and the job allowed for quite a bit of flexibility. Also, we had a female store manager at the time who
saw that I was a hard worker and encouraged me to look at management positions,
or at least consider them. I wanted to be a coach, but through her mentoring
and guidance I ultimately landed in management, where I was able to utilize my
passion for coaching, while strengthening my business acumen. To this day I am
still friends with her.
What personal traits would you say served you well as you built
your career at Safeway?
have always been a competitive athlete, either playing basketball or softball.
So realizing the importance of teamwork is of utmost importance. Secondly,
focus and dedication to improve myself and my team is a skill that has allowed
me to accomplish the goals I have. As an athlete and as a professional, I am
absolutely focused on getting better every single day. I won’t go home or quit
until I’ve been able to improve a skill or discover some way of providing
better customer service to our shoppers and, consequently, helping our company
increase market share.
How have Safeway's corporate culture and commitment to diversity
and inclusion provided opportunities for advancement?
has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, but no one moves up without
proving themselves first and foremost. Hard work, fostering new ideas and
challenging oneself to accomplish new goals is the way to success at Safeway.
role did the Network of Executive Women play in your career?
NEW played a very
influential role in not only my professional life, but my personal development
as well. NEW provided an environment that fostered trust and camaraderie
amongst professional women. Lori Proctor of Procter & Gamble recruited me
to NEW and has supported me throughout my career. I consider her a dear friend
and this relationship is a direct result of the NEW family.
What advice do you have for other women who are looking to advance
in the consumer products and retail industry?
is a good question and one I want to stress as very important. First, don’t
ever assume your supervisor or manager knows what your professional goals are.
Make sure to communicate your goals and help them to understand that you are
committed to the company’s mission and you want to be an integral part of
helping achieve that mission.
and in the same vein, always challenge yourself and be willing to take on new
tasks or jobs that may not be within your day-to-day functions. Be open to new
opportunities and when you are assigned a task go above and beyond in
accomplishing that job. Third,
search out a mentor or support organization, such as NEW. Find someone you
admire and respect in your industry and do not be afraid to ask for guidance or
advice. In short, own your success early in
your career. Work hard every single day to improve yourself, communicate your
goals to those around you and surround yourself with like-minded people who
want to see you achieve your goals.