Aubriana Martindale is the Division Corporate Affairs Manager for Smith’s Food & Drug Stores, a division for the Kroger Co. She oversees 141 Smith’s Food & Drug Stores throughout seven states of operation in media, external communications, philanthropy and community relations. Utah Business Magazine recently named Martindale a 40 under 40 influential business leader and Progressive Grocer awarded her as one of the Top Women in Grocery for her continued achievements as an influential female in the North American retail food industry.

On November 19, the Salt Lake Chamber will recognize Aubriana Martindale as a 2021 Pathfinder Award recipient at the Women & Business Conference and ATHENA Awards Luncheon. This award is given to community leaders who “create new paths” and promote the development and recognition of women in business.

We asked her a handful of questions to get to know her a little better:

  1. Describe how a personal experience in your industry has helped impact co-workers and/or customers. I strongly believe the last two years have been the most challenging time of all our lives, as we have faced the global pandemic of COVID-19. This was a crisis none of us could have forecasted, which presented hardships in all aspects of our lives. Many of us were trying to navigate the unknown, which extended past our firsthand personal experiences but also into our professional obligations. A component of my responsibilities was the coordination of Smith’s response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. I was part of the company’s task force, both leading and coordinating organizational activities. This task force allowed us to help lead our Smith’s stores and associates through the public health crises to quickly activate our COVID-19 preparedness plan. Our top priority was the safety and well-being of our associates, customers, and community. Through our collaborative efforts we were able to keep our grocery stores open, cleaned and stocked, while also expanding our pickup, delivery and ship services to customers and supporting our shared community through the distribution of $250,000 of COVID Relief Funds to charitable organizations.
  2. What does your organization do to support women in business? At Smith’s we recently launched a Framework for Action, which includes a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Plan to uplift associates, customers and communities. We have committed to 10 immediate actions to advance equity in the workplace. Our DE+I plan features both immediate and longer-term steps developed in collaboration with associates and leaders to accelerate and promote greater change in the workplace and in the communities our stores serve. Our plan features five focus areas: Create More Inclusive Culture, Develop Diverse Talent, Advance Diverse Partnerships, Advance Equitable Communities, and Deeply Listen and Report Progress. We have taken a very thoughtful and purposeful approach to develop what we believe are the right actions to substantially and positively impact our culture, creating real change now and into the future. We are approaching this effort with humility, knowing we can’t do it alone and don’t and won’t have all the answers. We are striving to create a more equitable workplace where associates are empowered, supported, feel valued and a sense of belonging.
  3. What do you see as the biggest challenge women face in business today? How do you think it can be overcome? Inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s novel, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” I became a member of a “Lean In Circle,” which is a group of ambitious local women who gather on a consistent basis to provide support and help each other grow professionally. As a group we often voiced barriers faced in the workplace and work to identify solutions. A common theme amongst our circle is that women are underestimated in the workplace. Consequently, women lack confidence and feel the pressure to work harder in order to prove their professional skill set and abilities. As we strive to enhance the promotion of women, I believe it is vital to find the origin of barriers at hand to ultimately address solutions. I had the opportunity to publish an article on the Salt Lake Chambers website, titled ‘Supporting Women in the Workplace’ that provides a summary of key points to three primary tips to support women in the workplace, conquer barriers and encourage women to reach their professional aspirations.
  4. What does having grit and grace mean to you? Grit is not just the ability to tough things out, but it is also the ability to thrive amid all of the challenges faced along the way. And, as we strive to reach those aspirational goals, we do our best to achieve it with compassion and understanding along the way for ourselves and others, which I believe is a true example of grace.
  5. What advice would you give to aspiring women leaders? Believe in yourself and go for it! It is so easy to get lost in self-doubt. As we seek new opportunities and are examining that job application or posting for a promotion, I know as women we begin checking off all of the items we know we can do without doubt, and start highlighting the items or tasks we are not 100% confident in. We often get caught up in what we can’t do. Challenge yourself to look at those highlighted sections as a learning opportunity, which is the most desired skill for any leader to hold. Remain confident in the skillset you do have and reach for new desires and opportunities! Even if the job or promotion isn’t given to you, you can look back with pride and learned experience knowing you went for it, rather than regretting wishing you had. If you continue to stay dedicated and strive for new opportunities, there is no-doubt your time will come. And, as you begin to earn a share of voice, encourage other women to reach new heights along the way.