Bridget Bennett, supervisory category manager of produce at Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, Va., describes her work in the produce industry as dynamic, challenging and rewarding.
Bennett first became familiar with the industry and the Defense Commissary Agency as a shopper. As a young military spouse, Bennett began her career in the commissary as a cashier.
“When I was promoted to produce manager, I knew that I had found a challenge that really intrigued me and allowed me to use my creativity,” Bennett said.
As supervisory category manager over the produce sales program, Bennett is responsible for driving sales growth and patron savings initiatives. Bennett develops produce department policies and procedures; conducts meetings with industry members to plan, develop, and execute annual strategic marketing plans; and assesses and identifies areas for improvement.
Randy Chandler, director of sales at the Defense Commissary Agency, has known Bennett since 2008.
“To describe her as tireless would be an understatement,” Chandler said. “Bridget has done so many things to improve the quality of the produce offered and the way it is merchandised to patrons, and she has brought innovation and excitement to all departments.”
In order to be successful in her position, Bennett stresses the importance of keeping her knowledge up to date.
“It is imperative that I continue to develop and maintain expert knowledge of respective global supply markets, competitors, and product innovations,” Bennett said.
“By maintaining knowledge of industry standards, I am able to best support the agency’s operational objectives.”
Produce Retailer magazine named the agency under her direction Produce Retailer of The Year in 2012. She also has helped judge a Impact Award competition for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit.
The highlights and challenges of her career have taught her many valuable lessons. Bennett has learned the importance of patience and respect and what it takes to be a leader.
“I am loyal and a good listener and I practice a participative leadership style,” Bennett said. As a leader, Bennett wants her team members to feel comfortable participating in group conversations and likes collecting input from members when making decisions and solving problems.
“Input from group members with specialized knowledge and expertise creates a more complete base for decision-making,” Bennett said.
Bennett said she looks forward to continued growth in her career and is ready and prepared for the next challenge that comes her way.
“Her warmth of spirit, compassion and understanding has made her easily understood and her direction easily accepted by our organization, Chandler said. “These characteristics and her unique leadership style will ensure her continued success.”