In case you missed the #1 post of our Women in Convenience series, you can read about Courtney Vercollone here. This week, we're back with another leading lady who has proven that dedication to what you love and a constant hunger for what intrigues you will ensure reaching any goal you wish, male or female.
Almost anyone in the convenience industry is familiar with the publication CSP, but in case you aren't, CSP magazine has ranked No. 1 in readership and market share over all other industry publications since 2003. CSP is the preferred magazine source for c-store trade marketing communications, information on industry mergers and acquisitions, demographic research, consumer insights, new technology trends, fuel sales, the hottest foodservice offerings, and much more. DataMax's back office software has been advertised in the technology section of CSP for years, and we have also been included in editorial content from time to time.
One of the latest and most exciting new ventures for CSP has been the launch of a second magazine, Convenience Store Products, an industry-first publication dedicated solely to products—the lifeblood of the c-store industry.
It shouldn't be a surprise to you by now that the Editor in Chief of this widely read publication is a woman! Her name is Abbie Westra, and she's got an impressive resume to share with us along with some killer advice for her fellow females.
Check out what Abbie (AW) has to say below, and read more articles by Abbie here.
DataMax: How did you come to work in the convenience industry?
AW: I graduated from college with a degree in Journalism, English and French, and set out to pursue a journalism career but grew enamored with the restaurant industry along the way. I was the editor of a business magazine for chefs for a number of years before I learned of the opportunity to join CSP to help start Fare magazine, which focused on retail foodservice, particularly c-store foodservice. I was intrigued by the evolution of c-store foodservice that was just starting to take place, and while I thought I’d miss talking to chefs at high-end restaurants, I quickly found the c-store industry far more fascinating. It’s an industry that nearly every American interacts with at least weekly—and that frequency has so much potential to affect consumers’ lives. That’s a fascinating dynamic. Since then, I’ve branched out to cover the entire c-store industry, while keeping a focus on foodservice.
DataMax: What is your favorite part about your job and/or working in the convenience store industry?
AW: Certainly the people I’ve met and built relationships with are near and dear to me. I’ve learned everything I know about the industry by talking to the leaders and veterans. But lately, the thing that gets me most excited is that the industry is truly at a crossroads. There are major consumer shifts occurring in the greater marketplace that will force the c-store industry to evolve in the years to come, from technology to the rise of millennials and boomers to urbanization and changing shopping habits. The c-store of 2025 could be vastly different from what we have today, and that alone is exciting and intriguing.
DataMax: How is developing a convenience store publication different (and possibly more more challenging!) than other publications?
AW: The industry is very patchwork and regional, with vast differences based on M&A activity, chain strategies and legacies (such as a chain with a strong foodservice legacy vs. a strong gasoline legacy) and even just regional consumer preferences. Writing stories that provide insights for everyone across this vast and varied spectrum is a daily challenge.
DataMax: Why do you think it is important for women to find success?
AW: Aside from it being a woman’s right to be able to find the success they want (however they define it) and have the support to obtain it, women and men bring different perspectives to the table. A balance of both is what makes a company successful both internally as well as outwardly to the audiences they serve. We also can’t talk about work-life balance as a society without looking at it from all angles and perspectives, and men and women both need to be part of that conversation.
DataMax: What advice do you have for other women who want to find success in any largely male industry?
AW: Find your niche and voice and use it to propel yourself through the industry with conviction and passion for the job. Surround yourself with people who support and value you for the work you do and the person you are. Make yourself valuable and treat your colleagues with the respect you want in return—those go for anyone, really.
DataMax: What keeps you motivated?
AW: The retailers. When you boil it down, my job is to make their businesses and lives better, so they’re what keep me going.
There you have it, folks. Another highly intelligent woman who has pursued a career in what she loved regardless of her gender. She made her voice heard and her great work is constantly noticed. A big thanks to Abbie and her team at CSP for their dedication to always keeping our industry well-informed!
Do you know a successful woman in the convenience industry that you believe deserves a feature on our blog? Comment below to let us know, and keep your eyes peeled for the next great Woman in Convenience!