Q&A with Meg Major
Susan Morris—who has proven to be a valuable part of Albertsons’ leadership team, and
who is widely admired within the company
for readily accepting new challenges, developing others and bringing teams together—
began her career in Albertsons’ Denver division while still in high school. She worked her
way up the ranks while proving her ability to
lead, execute and cultivate great teams in one
assignment after another in her 30-plus years
in the retail grocery business. Her career has
spanned roles from store director to corporate grocery sales director, VP of bakery and
operations and—upon the sale of Albertsons
Inc.’s assets to Supervalu—VP of customer
satisfaction. In 2013, Morris was named
Intermountain division president after a
three-year stint in the company’s Southwest
division, and subsequently was tapped to
lead the Denver division in 2015. Morris was
named EVP of East Operations in 2016, and
in 2017 was appointed to helm the company’s
West Region Operations, which she continues to lead as part of her current EVP and
Welcome to Endcap, Susan, and congrats on your recent promotion in early
2018. When making the announcement,
Bob Miller, Albertsons’ chairman and
CEO, commended you for two things that
caught my eye: your talented leadership
and demonstrated commitment to running “really good stores.” What do you
consider to be the most essential keys to
running said really good stores in 2018 and
Susan Morris: Honestly, our people are, and
will always be, the most important piece in
running a really great store. Store formats and
consumer tastes may change over time, but
informed and engaged employees who truly
care about their customers never go out of
style. Our goal moving into 2018 and beyond
is to ensure our people are prepared to make
every day a better day for our customers.
The second thing that sparked my interest
in Bob’s remarks was how you “raised your
hand to come to Albertsons in 2010” when
you were an SVP for a competitor and
took the only job available at the time: a
grocery sales manager in the Southwest
division. What do you believe is most
important to note about “raising your
hand” for an alternate position that others
might benefit from hearing?
In this case, raising my hand meant I was
willing to take several steps backward in my
career in order to join a company whose cultures and philosophies aligned with my own
personal beliefs and goals. I raised my hand,
asked for what I wanted and asked for them
to take a chance on me—then I worked my tail
off to prove to them I could do more. I have
never once regretted that move!
What kinds of experiences have you had
as a woman in the traditionally male-dominated industry that have—or have
not—influenced your leadership style?
I have worked with great leaders throughout my career who helped me find a path
and stay on it, but it didn’t mean the doors
were always opened for me. I learned to
take risks, to perhaps make the uncommon
choice or the divergent decision when I felt
strongly about it. Today, I try to be an active
listener. I find that conversations help spark
ideas and make me a better, more encouraging leader.
What do you consider to be the greatest
opportunities for the next generation of
future industry leaders?
I think all future leaders will need to be
authentic and approachable across any communication channel—and this is not an easy
task in the world of technology. There are
stories that Joe Albertson knew the name of
every one of his customers in the first store he
built in 1939. He truly wanted them to know
they were welcomed in his store. Today, we
have technology that enables companies to
develop more personal relationships with
customers around the globe. The key to success going forward, whether it is online or in
a store, is to be as authentic and welcoming as
Joe was when he started Albertsons.
When or where are you most content?
When I see members of my team flourish and
grow. There is no better feeling than seeing
someone you have mentored reach for new
heights and accomplish more than they originally expected.
Susan Morris is EVP and COO
of Albertsons Cos., which
announced its merger with Rite
Aid at press time of this issue.
Describe your present state of mind.
Excited for the future!
Who are your heroes? Anyone
who goes out of their way to make
someone else more comfortable.
What is your favorite board game
and why? Trivial Pursuit. My family
plays it when we go home for the
holidays. We absolutely, positively
stink at this game, but we laugh till
we cry every time. I L