Meenakshi Gupta, Senior Service Line Manager, has been honored by the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) as a 2023 Change Maker. WFF, a more than 30-year partner of Rich’s, works to accelerate the advancement of women leaders in the foodservice industry. WFF’s annual Change Makers program recognizes rising leaders who model inclusive leadership behaviors and support gender equity within their organizations, helping to build a strong pipeline of female leaders who are championing the growth of others in the industry.
Our Corporate Communications team recently sat down with Meenakshi to hear more about her professional journey, her advice to other women and how she feels about being named a 2023 WFF Change Maker.
Rich’s: Meenakshi, congratulations on being named Rich’s 2023 WFF Change Maker! What does it mean to have received this recognition?
I didn’t see it coming! Even though I’ve been with Rich’s for three years, I’m still learning the ropes and meeting new people. Amazingly, my efforts have been recognized in such a short time. It feels great to know that Rich’s values the work I have done here.
Rich’s: What led you to your current role as Senior Service Line Manager?
I joined Rich’s in February 2020. Four weeks later, the pandemic began. Although nervous, I began to network and connect with leaders across the organization virtually to share my experience and background. I immersed myself in Rich’s Associate Resource Groups and remained active through different events, which was a great way to connect with people from various departments and learn about Rich’s culture.
During my first year at Rich’s, I was offered an opportunity with Demand Fulfillment in a managerial role leading a team of project managers. Fast forward to today and I was recently promoted to Senior Service Line Manager. In this role, I provide strategic technical support to Rich’s Demand Fulfillment/Supply Chain business and am responsible for transforming how we operate our supply chain through new technology and enhanced processes. This involves a mindset shift and behavior change on how we currently perform daily functions and find ways to drive efficiency.
Rich’s: You are one of the founding members of Kaleidoscope, Rich’s Associate Regroup Group that supports our associates of color. What has that experience been like?
Being a part of building a team that brings awareness to diversity, equity and inclusion involves a tremendous amount of change. As a woman of color, it’s important for me to teach others about my culture and provide support to other people of color. When we started Kaleidoscope, we had so much support from everyone at Rich’s. People jumped on board without hesitation and believed in our mission of celebrating the unique backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures at Rich’s. Since its inception, we’ve been able to host global celebrations and educational events, as well as support the local community here in Buffalo.
Rich’s: What part of your career journey are you most proud of?
I’ve always had the urge to try something new or different every few years. Each time I do, it’s rewarding because I help to enhance a process and find better ways to operate a team. My collective experiences, both past and present, complete my profile and enhance my understanding of end-to-end business.
Rich’s: What advice would you give the next generation of female leaders?
Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to be you. Don’t be intimidated by what others around you are doing. Authenticity is still the best way to change the dialogue about women of color in the workplace. Being a woman of color at work is synonymous with being uncomfortable. Our lack of representation can make it challenging for others to understand the struggles we may face. Getting used to uncomfortable and challenging environments is key to being innovative and a high performer.
For me, simply doing my job is never enough. I extend myself to learn more about different areas of the organization and how I can bring change, big or small, through networking, volunteering, contributing to Associate Resource Groups and looking for opportunities to give back by helping non-profit organizations connected to Rich’s. I encourage the next generation of female leaders to seek opportunities for themselves to learn and grow.