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Equal Opportunity Magazine, launched in 1968, is a career-guidance and recruitment magazine offered at no charge to qualified African American, Hispanic, Native-American, and Asian-American college students and professionals in career disciplines. Equal Opportunity empowers readers to move ahead in their job search and/or current workplace environment.

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New technologies and a constant appetite for food and goods shape the consumer product goods (CPG) and food manufacturing industry.
 
As the end product of production and manufacturing, consumer goods are what customers see on store shelves - and increasingly online. Whether it be food, clothing, jewelry or any of the other broad categories of items customers need - or desire - the evidence is clear that consumers today have been buying.
And the increasing and expanding impact of new technologies will affect how the industry does business.
Creating everyday products and navigating all of this requires unique professional perspectives. Here four industry professionals speak about what their unique roles are in the CPG and food manufacturing industry, and how they address changing consumer needs and preferences, as well as other factors influencing this key part of everyday commerce.
 
Marshall Focuses on Consumers’ Online Shopping Habits at Kraft Heinz 
For more than 150 years, The Kraft Heinz Company - one of the largest global food and beverage companies - has produced some of the world’s most beloved products. With a diverse mix of iconic and emerging brands, it falls to innovative and dedicated strategists, such as Anthony Marshall, to work toward the goal of the company, which is co-headquartered in Chicago, IL and Pittsburgh, PA, to achieve sustainable health for our people and our planet.
Today Marshall is the head of eCommerce marketing and category leadership at Kraft Heinz, but has spent the first 14 years of his 19-year tenure at the company working in various roles within sales information.
He says that “during this time I developed a digital transformation strategy based on how the company created, managed and distributed its creative assets.” He moved to central marketing, then to eCommerce content.
It was, however, while working on a digital transformation strategy (DAM) that Marshall’s work designing and implementing DAM capabilities led him to the profound realization that content is king.
“Content is how we communicate with customers across all digital channels and vehicles,” says Marshall, acknowledging that this insight enabled him to rise to his current position and build the company’s eCommerce content strategy.
Commenting on the importance of consumer goods, Marshall points to the grocery sector. “We’re currently at the beginning of an online grocery buying journey - a journey predicted to result in 20% of the of the grocery retail market by 2025. Based on this finding, winning in eCommerce is critical for the survival of all major food and beverage consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies,” he states.
Explaining that eCommerce now results in more competition than that found within traditional brick and mortar stores, he adds that “consumer brand loyalty is being tested whenever and wherever consumers are connected.”
Marshall’s team is currently charged with understanding the behavioral shifts between traditional retail and online shopping. “Our task is to determine how/why consumers shop online, as well as to identify various category trends,” he explains.
While the marketing team works on strategy to help consumers maneuver from awareness to purchase, the content team focuses on exposing and directing the consumer to, and through, company websites.
“My job is to drive the best online customer and consumer experience for Kraft Heinz brands and products,” says Marshall, who recounts a discussion he had with a company vice president early in his career.
“When asked about the role I wanted to play, I replied that I wanted to ‘own’ the Kraft Heinz online experience. Today I wake up each day and get to do what I once dreamed about,” he remarks with satisfaction.
The advice Marshall gives to others looking to establish themselves in a career similar to his is not to compartmentalize themselves. “My job is about understanding what drives consumers to purchase particular products, and that basically involves identifying what it would take for me, my family, and my friends to buy those products,” he explains.
He also advises creating a personal multiyear career plan that includes the progression of skills required to grow professionally and personally. “Build a network of coaches, mentors, and sponsors to serve as your compass and ensure that you’re headed in the right direction,” asserts Marshall.
For more information about Kraft Heinz, go to kraftheinzcompany.com/careers, Twitter and LinkedIn.
 
Shehadeh Works to Improve Product Performance & Safety at ACCO Brands
A Palestinian American, Lina Shehadeh was the first in her family to become an engineer. Before that, growing up in the U.S., she became an avid table tennis champion, playing and winning three gold medals in 2008 at the Junior Olympics sponsored by Killerspin, her favorite sports company. “That’s when my table tennis career really took off,” she says.
By 2015, however, Shehadeh’s technical career took precedence over table tennis, and that’s when she joined Lake Zurich, IL-headquartered ACCO Brands, one of the world’s largest designers, marketers, and manufacturers of branded consumer, academic, and business products. Today she holds the title of product development engineer.
According to Shehadeh, “although my technical career path might not be deemed traditional, I’m currently immersed in the high-level product development engineering projects that I oversee. I also meet with engineers, manage schedules, and have input into supplier communication and relations, marketing specs, safety certifications, testing, and validation.”
Looking back, Shehadeh points out how she was able to hone her management skills during her eight years working at a restaurant under the direction of a hands-on, supportive mentor. Next came a position in a large company’s technical department before joining ACCO Brands, an employer that recognized her skills, hired her and later sent her for advanced CAD design training.
Now involved in designing consumer products that frequently surround us in our daily personal and professional lives, she explains that product development often starts by adapting existing products and continuously striving to make them better by eliminating consumer pain points in addition to improving performance, safety, and user experience.
Shehadeh recently had the chance to do this with the rollout of GBC’s Foton 30 Laminator, which she helped to develop over a four-year period. The Foton 30 is the first affordable, fully automated, pouch-free desktop laminator that makes the job easier for office, mailroom and facilities managers, administrators, and teachers.
“With the Foton 30 we’re able to increase employee productivity exponentially, saving workers’ time and business owners’ profits - a win-win situation,” she explains.
Shehadeh finds critical thinking, troubleshooting and creativity necessary skills in her line of work. She enjoys knowing that every day will be different. “I love not doing the same thing twice,” she says, commenting, too, on the value members of minority groups and diverse cultures bring to the table.
“Minorities bring unique ideas, often as a result of the different experiences they’ve faced. Blending cultures is a tremendous benefit both for businesses and the people who work for them,” she says.
For more information about ACCO Brands, go to accobrands.com/careers, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
 
Domino’s Villanueva Loves His Role in the Food Industry
What started as a part-time high school job turned into a 23-year career in the food industry for Marvin Villanueva. “Not only did I fall in love with pizza, I also found myself thoroughly devoted to providing a good eating experience to customers,” he explains. “And when it comes to pizza, the fact that it’s a shareable meal makes being involved in this industry even more enjoyable. Pizza is a meal that’s meant to be enjoyed with others!”
Today Villanueva is proud to work as the director of corporate operations in Houston, TX for Ann Arbor, MI-headquartered Domino’s Pizza - the world’s largest pizza company based on retail sales and a global enterprise of more than 16,500 stores in 85-plus markets.
Professionally self-taught in a broad-range of duties, he credits his rise in the company to the experiences he garnered at each level of his career.
“Learning from others was a huge help. Asking numerous questions, and not being satisfied until I knew the answers, helped me prepare for my current position,” he remarks.
Pleased to have chosen the food sector as his field of choice, Villanueva says that “the food industry is extremely important to people’s current fast style of living - and pizza is an exceptionally good fit for that.”
Because of this he believes food-related jobs will continue to grow both in store and in the delivery sector. Regarding delivery, he contends that current trend indicates that more people choose to have food delivered as opposed to going out for a meal.
In his job capacity Villanueva is responsible for the operations of 63 Domino’s restaurants in the Houston area. This involves people development, customer service, monitoring sales growth and profits, and supervising supervisors. “The food industry is very rewarding if you give 100% of yourself,” he states, adding that he highly recommends that individuals who want to pursue a career in the food industry create their own personal and professional goals.
“In this industry you have to love food, as well as being of service to others. Great people skills are a must, and you must be able to perform under pressure,” notes Villanueva, who particularly enjoys functioning in a fast-paced environment where he gets to work with people from different cultures.
“Even though I truly have a lot on my plate - Domino’s pizza included - I love that I still have the opportunity to be hands-on at the stores,” he adds.
For more information about Domino’s Pizza, go to jobs.dominos.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube.
 
Herrera Manages IT Audit Projects at Office Depot
For Rene Herrera, his five years at Boca Raton, FL-headquartered Office Depot brought with it the opportunity to get to learn about the many aspects of this leading provider of business services, supplies, products, and technology solutions through a fully integrated B2B distribution platform of 1,300 stores, a significant online presence, and a dedicated team of sales and professional technicians. As the company’s global IT audit director, he’s responsible for managing audit projects across Office Depot’s business units.
With academic qualifications that include a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and an MBA, Herrera finds his MBA particularly equipped him with the required knowledge and skills essential for understanding and navigating the various functions and areas of businesses.
He further contends the experiences he garnered while managing audit and process improvement in his two prior jobs - in international operations and internal audit - afforded him a solid foundation, including developing the background knowledge that’s vital for building and leading effective audit teams.
Herrera is pleased with his choice of consumer goods as his career. “The field of consumer goods is a fascinating sector, the operation of which requires the combination of many critical functions,” he explains.
“While Office Depot combines retail store and eCommerce sales channels for office supplies and business services, behind those channels is a strong sourcing and supply chain organization that manages the production, purchasing, inventory, and delivery of products, as well as [the ability to offer] technology services to small, large, and enterprise organizations.”
Consumer goods is key to people, businesses and the economy, Herrera further points out. “As reliance on technology continues to grow, the field of IT audit now plays an even more critical role in helping companies maintain adequate controls and processes,” he states.
“Those working in such a capacity now find themselves more in demand as companies recognize the importance of incorporating IT platforms that work properly and achieve business goals.”
And for those interested in pursuing such a career, Herrera stresses the importance of expert knowledge and IT skills, as well as emphasizing the importance of teamwork and interpersonal collaboration.
For more information about Office Depot, go to jobs.officedepot.com, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
 
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