During these difficult months we have been through, facing the many challenges COVID-19 has brought and creating a new normal, I just want to say: Be strong, stay healthy and look out for you and your families. We will overcome this together. Dawn is here to support you in every step of the way, providing you with information, resources, insights and ideas, and our new online ordering system to make business even more convenient to you. We are passionate about our work to take great care of our customers, because through you we give people the opportunity to celebrate and keep the joys of life alive, creating life’s sweet moments. Be Safe.
What made you want to begin a career working in the bakery industry?
I have spent my entire life in and around bakeries. From my very earliest memories as a child, when my dad came home from work with a delicious vanilla aroma on his clothes, to when my parents hosted dinners for Dawn Foods sales team members or customers, my life was always intertwined with the bakery.
I was 12-years-old when I realized I wanted to be in the bakery business. Late one night a phone call came through and I answered (since the phone was in my room) and it was a sales rep wanting to consult with my dad. That moment, I felt like I wanted to be that go-to person and help others by solving problems. This was the spark that made me realize I wanted to be the CEO of Dawn Foods.
What challenges did you face starting out in your career?
After graduating from college, I worked in several jobs while I looked for the job that I wanted. I knew that I didn’t want to go work for Dawn Foods right away. I needed to build my own confidence first. I decided to move to Florida to be on my own and get a job somewhere new. This experience taught me that perseverance and patience are key to success. I learned early on you must be comfortable sticking with your goal and not giving up until you get where you want to be.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in the bakery industry and how did you overcome them?
To stand out in a male-dominated business, I learned early in my career that I had to be better than the guys. At first, the customers didn’t know what to do with me. I needed to understand the specifics of our products better than everybody else – because they thought that as a woman, I wasn’t qualified to sell them. While challenging, I used these moments as a learning opportunity. It taught me that in your career there are certain things you must know better than anyone else.
How long have you worked in the bakery industry?
I have been around the bakery business all my life!I just recently received my 35 years’ service emblem at Dawn.
What is your career highlight?
Becoming CEO of Dawn Foods was my dream come true. I am fortunate that in my position I can take all the learnings from my career to this point and put them into action. With the legacy of my father, my uncles and grandfather at the forefront of Dawn, it is my goal to ensure their legacy continues. My grandfather saw an opportunity and my father and uncles had the vision and expertise to lead others to build this vision with him. I am blessed, but also driven in my career at Dawn to continue this path forward.
If you could make one change to the bakery industry, what would that be and why?
While the number of women in senior leadership roles has grown, women continue to be underrepresented at every level in the workplace. This underrepresentation is something I would like to change in the bakery industry. At Dawn, we strive to be better at creating a more equitable workplace every day. We are proud that in North America & LATAM, 31 percent of employees in leadership roles (manager level and up) are women. We still have work to do. It is important to propel women in the workplace to achieve great things and I’m confident we’ll continue to make progress against our goals.
What does your job entail?
At Dawn, I oversee the company’s overall performance to ensure, from a fundamental perspective, we are profitable and hit our targets. I have the opportunity as CEO to set the strategy, manage the business and motivate our teams within the business helping me run it. I hope to inspire our team members every day and enjoy building relationships with our people and our customers.
What advice would you give to young people looking to get into the bakery industry?
Bakery is part art and part science. The art part is the easier of the two to be passionate about, since creating beautiful bakery items is a creative form of expression. But to be successful, you need to have the scientific knowledge behind it. Every ingredient has a right proportion and function in each recipe. My advice is to get the knowledge, know your science – and the creativity will come.
What are your hobbies and interests?
I love being with my family. I enjoy cooking with my daughter, skiing, bike riding, tennis, reading and traveling.
Who is your role model and why?
My dad. I am inspired by his vision for the company and how he puts people first. He taught me the importance of networking and how it helps the business to always stay connected to your customers.
If you could invite anyone to a dinner party, who would it be and why?
My daughter and my partner! I am always looking for more time to spend together.
What is your favourite bakery event and why?
For events at Dawn, I enjoy our Bakery Gatherings held in our Distribution Centers, which give bakers the chance to interact with our teams and try out the latest Dawn products and learn about new trends. I also love the customer meetings we host at our Innovation Studio, where we work collaboratively with our customers to help them ideate new products. Through these meetings I have the chance to connect with our customers and am always learning from them as well!
From the industry, IBIE is always one of my favourite events. There’s so much energy and opportunity to connect with customers and potential customers and I get to interact with a lot of our team members all in one place.
If you could choose to only eat one bakery product for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Chocolate chip cookies, which now we have in a vegan presentation!
If you could tell your younger self one thing you have learnt from your career, what would it be?
I would say, “Carrie, if you are not shattering enough glass, you are not making enough mistakes and therefore – not learning enough.”
How would you define success?
I believe success is defined by doing something you are passionate about with people that inspire you. Your passion will drive you to contribute your best ideas, push the boundaries of what you feel you can do, and will inspire others who work with you!
Secondly, by surrounding yourself with people that inspire you, you can feel confident that your skills and aptitudes will be elevated. The goal isn’t to be the “best” in the room, the goal is to be able to collaborate with people who can enrich your talents.
What would you say that your proudest moment has been in your career?
My proudest moment was when I became the President of Dawn International and helped turn our international business around, all while chasing around my daughter, Samantha. We now sell products in more than 100 countries with incredible profitability.
What was your big break, and how did you reach it?
My big break was when I became CEO of Dawn Foods. I was able to reach this goal by having a career path that encompassed a lot of different responsibilities. You must know a lot about many things, and you must be really good at a chosen few, like how to motivate people, communicate with customers and finance. It is also important to remember that you must surround yourself with a trusted team that continues to expand your thinking and push the company forward.