AlisonSkinner

Marketing Specialist – Product Development
Growers Express, LLC. (Green Giant™ Fresh): Salinas, CA

Years in Produce:

Age: 32

Personal Information:

Married; One son

Hobbies: Cooking and recipe-testing with husband (GGF Corporate Chef); traveling; The United Way; Elkhorn Slough Foundation; California Rodeo Salinas

Motto in life: Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing right.

Work History: After graduating from Sonoma State University in 2008 with a degree in psychology, Skinner returned to Salinas. Her first job out of college was with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (formerly Diedrich Coffee), where she wore several hats over the course of her six-year tenure, finally arriving in a human resources role. An interest in marketing and brand management led her to accept a position with Growers Express/Green Giant Fresh. She joined the team as an entry-level marketing specialist, with a focus on packaging. When a key employee departed, she created an organized process and approval system and took on responsibility for packaging for the company’s line of products. She has since been an integral part of the product-development process, helping develop and launch its Cauliflower Crumbles lines, vegetable noodles line and new vegetable meal bowls.

Questions & Answers:

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?

That exploring other roles is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. Despite my career start in HR, I found my true passion to be with marketing. Had I not taken the initiative to move around and learn other positions, I may have missed out on a very satisfying and gratifying career.

Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?

Being new to the ways of the marketing world, for me personally, it was learning an entirely new skillset, business model and vernacular. The more I learned, the better I was able to understand where I could best offer my own value.

Q: What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of in your career?

Being a part of the team that developed and launched our first-to-market Cauliflower Crumbles product in 2015. This was my first exposure to an official product launch; and given the success, we set out to expand the offering by developing line-extensions.

Q: What industry improvements would you like to see?

I believe there’s room for process improvements in virtually every facet of any organization. Identifying them is just a starting point; actually developing plans and assigning a budget to implement them is key.

Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?

It’s the same advice I would give to anyone interested in any industry. Work hard, ask questions, remain flexible — adjust and adapt, share the successes but own the failures, foster relationships where you can, take great pride in your work and be accountable.

Q: What do you think the industry can do to promote more produce consumption?

I think strategically utilizing packaging for messaging is always helpful to consumers — especially with products that may be new to the marketplace. Making sure you’re educating the consumer on product health benefits and unique and easy-usage ideas is very important — especially through imagery, which is the universal language.

Q: How has the industry changed in your tenure?

It has become increasingly automated and high-tech. From harvesting equipment to robotic sorting machines, it’s a new day in fresh produce processing. We’ve all come to realize that innovation is more than a differentiator; it’s a necessary component in order to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. That means keeping your finger on the pulse of the consumer, and continually developing sought-after products that are nutritious, delicious and on-trend.