At Kroger, we like to say, “Come for the job, and stay for the career!” Nothing could be truer when it comes to my experience at The Kroger Co., the nation’s largest traditional grocery retailer. I started as a part-time cashier in 1972 while I attended Ohio University. Thirty-nine years later, I have enjoyed a career that takes me from our stores in Alaska to our executive office in Cincinnati. Equally as enriching have been the communities we have grown close to in cities such as Memphis, Detroit, Columbus, and Cincinnati. All along the way we have been fortunate to meet wonderful friends and colleagues.

On this journey, one thing has never changed, and that is how important people are in every aspect of life and business. I was fortunate that my career began in our stores. From the very beginning I knew I loved customers and creating an experience that makes customers feel good about choosing us. Today, that experience still guides me and is the foundation for our Company’s success. At Kroger, our strategy is called “Customer 1st.” It is a strategy I find exciting and effective.

Working with diverse groups of talented colleagues as a senior executive and corporate officer, as well as an outside corporate director and a university trustee, has given me broad experiences to shape my leadership. I follow the principle that my most important contribution is always helping others achieve their goals and dreams. People and organizations that thrive create cultures of giving to each other.

Mentorship is a personal and professional imperative and I try to find ways to mentor each and every day. Mentorship comes in many forms. Often, it is as simple as asking, “How can I help?”

Finally, in my own development (a journey that continues with every experience), I have learned that finding the right question is so much more important than knowing the answer. I love “action and doing,” however, “assisting and helping” contributes exponentially.

What I find most fulfilling about my career at Kroger is that we are a company of people who value our customers more than anything else. We have a culture of achievement and an environment where everyone can contribute to serving our customers. That’s the essence of Customer 1st!