My very own mentor, Melissa Greenwald, joined me to discuss female empowerment in the foodservice industry. Even though I am lucky to have time with her and ask advice about once a month, I wanted to share her story LOUD and PROUD because her enthusiastic passion, encouragement and perseverance are unmatched. She owns her own Manufacturer’s Rep Group in Ohio, Greenwald Sales and Marketing, and has a license to practice law, but the impressiveness doesn’t stop there. Recent accolades include being named the 2022 Top Achiever: Rep of the Year by FES Magazine and the MAFSI Tony Award, so you could say she knows what she’s doing too. Time to dive in!
How long have you been in the industry?
Born into it in *author redacted year* 😉 I used to remember playing with dishware samples or ice scoops and plates, since my father owned a rep group agency. I was a second-year law student when I decided that it wasn’t for me and wanted to make a change. I looked to my dad, because he was happy, and his business was fun.
What iS YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE?
Lead by example, but I would say I’m pretty hands-off. Instead of micromanaging, I think it’s better to utilize someone else’s strengths, so they become the best version of themselves and not who someone else wants them to be. If my help is asked for, then I might share what I would do in a similar scenario or I will share with my team best practices for little stuff that arises.
wHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT BARRIER IN YOUR CAREER?
I don't believe in barriers, I plow through them! I would say though earlier in my career, it was not being given any freedom or the authority to make decisions.
HOW HAVE YOU BUILT CONFIDENCE AND RESILIENCE OVER THE YEARS?
Persistence, drive, passion, and energy. I guess tenacity would be how I sum that up! You learn from every interaction you have, and you should not be discouraged when there is a problem. It’s part of the game.
CAN YOU TOUCH ON THE 'GAP' OF FEMALES IN THE FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY?
Oh yeah! It really depends on the part though. There are a lot more women in operations and in restaurants. In equipment and supply, there is a gap, but we have a long way to go with more opportunities. Mostly, people are very open-minded though so it’s really about developing younger minds and getting the word out! The more we can educate the younger demographic, the better.
WhAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THE NEXT GENERATION OF FEMALE LEADERS?
Be strong in what you do! Continue to challenge yourself and move forward. Always think about the future and be ready to ride that wave. Everything changes so just expect it. The advice I would give to myself just starting out in my career though is to be patient where it counts. You must work hard and earn your stripes to get that respect. It comes all at once and not at all.
WHAT DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES AND/OR QUALITIES DO YOU THINK WOMEN BRING TO THE INDUSTRY
One thing I always consider in my world (tabletop, smallwares) is aesthetic and design. Women have a better eye for that in my opinion. I would also say that there is more of a calming presence when you have a difficult or aggressive customer. They seem to be gentler or kind with responses if you’re a woman. It’s like instantly disarming a situation.
What WAYS DO YOU STAY GROUNDED? OR STEPS TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF?
It is not easy, especially when you’re in a big growth mood. I do have a strict regime to leave the office at 5:00, to spend time with my son. If necessary, I can get back on the computer later. Walks with my family and going to parks help me achieve happy place. My yoga also helps but is lacking lately. I try to get up early to have my quiet time alone that allows me to relax or work on things.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS FOR YOUR CAREER? WHAT IS YOUR DREAM? LET'S SHOOT FOR THE MOON HERE...
Make an impact on everybody that you come across. And find a mentor!! You can learn so much from just listening to another perspective or from someone who may have been in your shoes before.
How have you built confidence and resilience over the years?
I want to grow my business in a lot of ways. Continue what we are working on because one of the biggest accomplishments for me is putting together a team – my team is second to none! Every single person is right person, right seat. I look forward to growing these people with my organization. I always want to be the best, not the biggest. I guess my dream is to buy an island and retire!
Take me with you when you get that island, Melissa!! Congratulations on all your recent awards mentioned above, it could not go to a more well-deserved woman full of grace that deserves the utmost respect. Your advice is something I hold onto, so thank you for inspiring me personally. You are helping set a precedent for many more females to follow in this industry.
here are some of MELISSA'S TOP EQUIPMENT PICKS:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
This article was written by Meredith Mulliken, Chrane's Marketing Manager, to shine light on all the great women she looks up to in foodservice. This blog is designed to share the wealth of knowledge from females that helped pave the road map and excite new, young professionals to join our amazing industry.