Episode 255: Carrie Mack and Carmel Stout-Kornegay

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“America is a diverse place; the world is a diverse place. So to have that wide lens and appreciation for others is so important in your leadership journey.” 

Lori Taylor (26:51-27:00)

We’ve come a long way since the first International Women’s Day in 1911, and even from when Lori Taylor took the very first maternity leave from Indianapolis Fruit Company just 15 years ago.

Since Lori’s beginning in the produce industry in 2004, there has been a notable rise in female presence there. For this year’s annual celebration of International Women’s Day on The Produce Moms Podcast, we are honored to feature two amazing women leaders: Carrie Mack, Apple & Pear Sourcing Manager II, and Carmel Stout-Kornegay, Senior Sourcing Manager of Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes. 

In their roles as senior sourcing managers for Walmart’s U.S. stores, these two women have a tremendous impact on the fruits and vegetables that we’re all able to bring home.

Carrie Mack was the 2022 recipient of the coveted Frieda Rapoport Caplan Women’s Catalyst Award in recognition of her exemplary female leadership, rallying and elevating female leaders. When she was coming up in the industry, working in just about every sector, there weren’t a lot of female role models or mentors. Working her way up the ranks, Carrie was motivated by the desire to impact change by creating more diversity in the industry.

 Now at Walmart, she has the opportunity to use her voice and create room at the table, pulling other women up – women like our second featured guest, Carmel Stout-Kornegay. Carmel began working for Walmart when she was just 17 and credits Carrie’s advocacy for elevating her to her current leadership position. Growing up in communities fed by agriculture, both women have a particularly strong passion for produce sourcing and their roles connecting with growers and being the faces of Walmart for the industry. On any given day, depending on the time of year, Carrie and Carmel might be found in the orchards looking at buds, blossoms, or fruit that’s getting ready to harvest; walking storage rooms checking on fruit quality; working on strategy, discussing production, and having in-depth conversations with growers about the realities that they’re facing; or communicating with their cross-functional team about executing merchant strategy – how to move product from a farm to Walmart facilities to the customer’s table.

A large part of their responsibility involves cultivating relationships with growers, suppliers, and the industry they both work within. Carrie and Carmel work daily to understand the needs of growers in order to produce a sustainable, profitable crop, and then navigate those needs to meet Walmart’s goals and the expectations of the end customer for mutual success. 

While their overarching missions are to increase accessibility to affordable, fresh produce of the highest quality to their customers, day in and day out, Carrie and Carmel also keep in mind their employer’s commitment to local and regional relevancy and driving positive change by ensuring partners, growers, and Walmart remain good stewards of the planet. It’s a multi-faceted, all-encompassing enterprise that goes far beyond making sure warehouses are fully stocked!  Carmel summed it up with a message from leadership that she has taken to heart:

‘‘We are all in the business of buying and selling things, but in the end, it’s all about the people. We are in the people business.’ …  What I really took away from that was our personal connection from the grower to the final customer is really important, that building a real connection with people is what it’s all about.”  Carmel Stout-Kornegay (41:59-42:24)

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week! 
  • Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here

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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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