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    Women in the C-Store Industry

    In the food and beverage retail industry, women make up more than half of the workforce but are only 27% of its management. The women who do hold these roles within the c-store industry are making a difference. Due to their numerous achievements, these women are pushing past challenges and taking their companies and stores to new levels of success.

    The Women Worth Watching

    Gigi Colosimo; Owner of On The Go

    Colosimo has been in the industry for over thirty years. She encountered her first major success after branding her Exxon store with the name On The Go. This effort included personalized graphics and a brand new coffee bar. With consistent competitive pricing, she was able to beat out her competitors and make a name for herself in this innovative industry.

    Laura Asbell; Regional VP for Mondelez International

    Convenience Store News named Asbell ‘Woman of the Year’ in 2016 for her work with a brand that has been five different companies over the last 27 years because of mergers, splits, and being bought and sold. With plenty of experience in the field of convenience, she understands the importance of planning for the future and creating new perspectives. She hopes to improve her company and conquer every challenge that is laid before her in order to continue learning and growing.

    Ena Williams; Senior Vice President and Head of International for 7-Eleven

    Williams has had an extremely successful operations career with companies like Mobil Oil and ExxonMobil. She is currently responsible for more than 31,000 franchised and joint-venture stores in over 16 countries. Since 2008, Williams has been able to diversify and challenge 7-Eleven franchise owners to continually grow and expand to new areas of success.

    Grace Papoulias; Owner of Westmoor Chevron

    Papoulias has been in this industry since she was a child. After working for her father when she was young, helping rebuild an auto care business into a brand new c-store in 2014, and establishing her own store in 2015, Papoulias has continuously grown as a c-store professional. Currently she “is responsible for everything involved with running the business, from top-level management decisions to day-to-day operations" at Westmoor Chevron. She has two direct reports and 11 employees. Papoulias is the definition of self-made and will continue to inspire other women to start and run their own business.

    Current Challenges

    The lack of woman leadership in the c-store industry is caused by many different factors including women not seeing any growth opportunities or a clear path to management. Without proper mentoring or sponsorship from senior team members, it is especially hard for women to move forward. Men are often promoted for their potential, while women are promoted on “demonstrated results”.

    Women also tend to want roles that are more flexible with their lifestyle, and senior roles are often extremely time demanding. Some women want to start at the bottom and work their way up, but those jobs are often tactical such as truck driving or working in a warehouse or plant.  Gender stereotypes still exist, but many women in the workforce are fighting those career barriers, and letting their ability, experience, and knowledge speak for itself.

    Moving Forward

    As more women emerge and step into the convenience industry there are a few things that can be done to help move qualified and hard working women to the top:

    • Pairing executive leaders and management with women in mentoring programs
    • Encouraging women to be intentional when planning their career
    • Encouraging male leaders to see the potential in women who could change and benefit the business
    • Requiring diversity and inclusion training for all company leaders
    • Focusing on new and innovative ways to continually make businesses more diverse