Home Career Advice 10 Minutes with Nicole Theophilus, SVP, HR – ConAgra Foods

Left: Cera Josephsen Right: Nicole Theophilus

Left: Cera Josephsen
Right: Nicole Theophilus

 

Cera Josephsen graduated Spring 2013 from Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Marketing. She was a member of the Enactus team for three years and most recently, served as president. She is pursuing a career in the field of advertising.

Here’s what she learned in 10 minutes with Nicole Theophilus, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at ConAgra Foods…

CJ: How does diversity play a key role in your workplace and market strategy?

NT: Diversity plays a major part in our workplace. We believe that diversity of all kinds, such as educational background, geographic location, race, national origin, religion, gender, GBLTQ+, military background, etc., plays into diversity of thought, which is good for our workplace and good for our business. We work hard to foster a diverse, inclusive environment, where people can come together to share ideas and work together to build a stronger business. We view our market strategy the same way. We have customers and consumers with all kinds of different backgrounds. We work hard to understand their needs and want our workforce to reflect our customer base as much as possible.

CJ: What skills and traits does your company look for in hires?

NT: We look for people who are smart, engaged, passionate about the business, and who are intellectually curious and want to continue to learn. In addition to having the skills necessary for any given role, we also believe that the “how” is as important as the “what.” We want people who live by our operating principles of Simplicity, Accountability, Collaboration and Imagination, and who understand that building trust within teams and across the organization is a key way to build an engaged culture that in turn processes great business results.

CJ: How do you incorporate social media to engage with your market and workforce?

NT: Social media is the new frontier when it comes to engaging with our workforce and with the market. Internally, over the last year we’ve started to use a tool called Yammer, which is very effective at generating two-way communications. We have also used Twitter and Facebook both at the brand level and company level to assist with external communications. This really is a great way to reach many of our constituents.

CJ: How have you differentiated your brands from your competition, and how is that conveyed to your customers?

NT: Part of our Recipe for Growth is: We deliver Everyday Food in Extraordinary Ways. That means that we work very hard to make sure that our food is high quality, great value and we use innovation to make sure our food is memorable. We are constantly in touch with our customers and consumers to make sure we are delivering on our promises and that we are truly in touch with what they want.

CJ: How does your marketing strategy encourage brand loyalty?

NT: Brand loyalty is at the core of our marketing strategy. We use key insights from customers and consumers to really understand our constituents so that we are delivering what they really want. Our Marketing teams, Research, Quality and Innovation teams and our Brand Teams are all working together to build brand loyalty.

CJ: How would you describe your company’s culture?

NT: In the last two years, we have done a lot of work to define our Strategic Plan and our Culture. We call this Our Recipe for Growth. One of the core strategies in the Recipe for Growth is to win through our people. We have a goal of becoming a Fortune “Best Place to Work” over the next several years. We have been working hard to build an engaged, recognition-based culture where pride in our company, trust, and camaraderie are prevalent. Our employees have certainly sparked to this vision. They are a group of hard-working people who are eager to rise to a challenge and have a strong desire to make ConAgra Foods one of the Best Places to Work.

CJ: What advice would you give students entering the job market that you wish you would have known?

Find something that you really love to do, learn as much as you possibility can about it, and don’t ever stop learning. Use that curiosity and work ethic to become indispensable to those around you and you will go very far in your career.

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