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Follow My Path: Karri Zwirlein

By Eric Richard posted 09-30-2019 15:15

This weeks Follow My Path features @Karri Zwirlein, Director of Bakery, Deli, & Prepared Foods at Tops Markets! Karri is an active leader in the industry as well as IDDBA. I'm excited to introduce Karri and share her career path with you all.

1. In two sentences, sum up how you got to where you are professionally. 
I believe I am where I am today because I’ve had the opportunity to be surrounded by great advisors, mentors, who have helped me focus on my path and overcome the obstacles that come my way.

2. What is your guilty food pleasure?
I would have to say…Ice Cream.

3. How long have you been at your current role?
I have been the Director of Bakery for the past four years.  Just over a year ago, I added Deli, Prepared Foods, and Specialty Cheese to my Director duties.

4. What professional habit are you most proud of?
I am most proud that I continue to be a student of this industry while sharing my knowledge with others as they develop their own path.  Always keep learning.

5. What is your favorite cheese?
Parmigiano Reggiano.

6. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of the job is when we get to be creative and come up with unique ideas.  To see customers respond to those creations in a positive way makes me very proud.

7. What surprised you most when you started working in this field?
I started in this industry as a part-time cashier so the biggest surprise to me was discovering that there are all types of careers in this industry that are available.  I certainly did not start out thinking I would ever be Director of Bakery, Deli, and Prepared Foods however it has been an exciting and fulfilling career.

8. What were your childhood career aspirations?
I never saw myself in the Retail Grocery industry.  I had always wanted to be a teacher or work in Sports Medicine but a part-time job in college led to an extremely rewarding career.

9. How has your involvement with IDDBA benefited you professionally?
Most of my professional development is obtained through my involvement with IDDBA. Not only do I continuously learn and grow interacting through RMF and What’s In Store Live!, I have developed lasting personal and professional relationships that I cherish with people I can rely on for guidance.

10. What would you tell an individual considering a career in the food industry? 
I would encourage anyone to look beyond what you think this industry is and can be for you. The opportunities are endless. Get involved in organizations that promote the industry, like IDDBA where you can begin to form those valuable relationships that can help you define your path. A career in this industry may not be what you dreamt of growing up, but it is and exciting and fulfilling industry that can be as rewarding as you make it.
*Editor’s note: If you know someone who could be featured for this blog series, please email: