PINE BUSH, N.Y. — Before she decided to pursue a career at Hannaford Bros., Jackie Buckley already had some idea what she was getting into.
She had worked at three other supermarkets during college — a Wegmans, a Tops and a SureFine — the latter owned by her father.
But she supplemented her real-life industry education with a bachelor's degree from Cornell University's Applied Economics and Management school, with a concentration in Food Industry Management. She graduated from the Ithaca, N.Y.-based university in 2003 and entered the management training program at Hannaford, an educational training combination that has produced several executives for Hannaford and its Delhaize-owned sister chains.
Now she enjoys sharing the fruits of that education with her co-workers here at the 35,000-square-foot Hannaford Bros. store that she manages.
“One of my favorite things about the job is that I have the ability to influence a lot of people, many of whom maybe haven't had the benefit of the experiences I have had,” she told SN. “It's like being a mother hen. I really like helping people in their careers, and teaching people.”
The Cornell undergraduate program — the university also offers graduate programs in Food Industry Management and a separate, nine-day intensive training program for current industry executives — involves a range of class work in marketing, finance, management and accounting, among other offerings.
“I think Cornell prepared me as much as it could,” she said. “I don't think you can be prepared for everything. Some things you can only learn with on-the-job training.”
Buckley was studying animal science in her first year at Cornell — she said she would have become a veterinarian, but she decided to switch to the AEM program in her sophomore year. One of her professors, Debra Perosio, recommended that she look into the Hannaford Bros. management training program, in which graduates spend a year working in each of the different departments in various Hannaford Bros. stores before becoming a store manager.
“I respected her opinion,” Buckley explained. “I said if she thinks very highly of them, they must be a good company. I also didn't want to go to work on Wall Street.
“My goal was to get a job before graduation, and this seemed like a great opportunity,” she added.
Buckley spoke highly of several aspects of the Cornell program. She was a member of Food Marketing Fellows, an honors program through which she attended the Food Marketing Institute Show in Chicago, and she also traveled to Italy through an international studies program.
The FMI show, she said, was an “eye-opening experience,” citing the vast amount of new-product introductions on display.
On the Italy trip, she toured a Barilla pasta plant, a cheese-making facility and visited several retailers, giving her fresh insight into both the manufacturing process and European retailing.
When she returned, she worked on a project where students developed a new flavor of ice cream — called executive suite — which they produced through the Cornell dairy plant.
She also said she particularly enjoyed Perosio's food marketing class in her senior year, in which students studied real-world data to plan the development of a new store from scratch.
At Hannaford, Buckley said she hopes to someday advance her career within the corporation.
“Probably the shortest of my long-term goals is a position like district manager, when I am ready,” she said. “I love the flexibility of our company — people seem to be able to move around with ease, and Hannaford really prepares you well to take your career in different directions.”
TITLE: Store Manager, Hannaford Bros.
EDUCATION: Food Industry Management Program, Cornell University