TWIC Talk With Circle K's Elisa Goria
NATIONAL REPORT — Now in its sixth year, the Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards program has recognized more than 200 of the best and brightest women making a positive impact on not only the companies they work for, but also the entire convenience retail channel.
TWIC is the only program that recognizes exceptional female leaders, rising stars and mentors among retailer, supplier and distributor firms in the convenience store industry, from the C-suite to the store level to the independent entrepreneur.
In TWIC Talk, our bimonthly Q&A series, we interview a past TWIC winner about what it's like to be a female leader in the convenience store industry today — the opportunities, the challenges — and get their words of wisdom for up-and-comers seeking to blaze their own trail.
This month’s TWIC Talk subject is Elisa Goria, global lead for dispensed beverages at Circle K/Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. In 2017, Goria was one of the five women celebrated by TWIC as Women of the Year.
How would you describe the current state of affairs for gender equality in the convenience store industry? How does this compare to 10 years ago?
Much like other industries, the conversations around gender equality are more prevalent now. While we are seeing more female colleagues within the convenience store industry in leadership, we still have opportunities. It’s exciting to see the number of women grow across our channel and more being celebrated for their successes and advancement. Years ago, it would not be unusual to attend a conference or meeting and be one of the few females present. It’s great that we are on a positive path and are consciously working toward a better balance.
What is the most positive change you have personally witnessed?
The most exciting change is the dialog on the subject. I am very proud to be a part of Alimentation Couche-Tard (ACT). At ACT, we have a diversity policy, a female chair on the board, and many women in executive roles. Working together with an inspiring group of women within the company, it’s an honor to be a part of our newly created ACT Women’s Council. It’s also wonderful to see the recognition within the industry through TWIC.
Along your career path, did you personally experience gender bias or inequality? If so, how did you overcome?
I have been incredibly fortunate in my career with Circle K, which started in the stores, as I have always been challenged with new roles and responsibilities. Over the years, I had many powerful mentors, both male and female. I have seen firsthand great women at all levels driving forward the organization. The best thing we can do for each other is ensure we are each doing our part to encourage and empower women within our organizations.
What barriers to advancement do you see still existing in the c-store industry?
The external barriers presented in the industry are slowly being removed and to meet that opportunity, women need to continue to overcome internal barriers of self-doubt or the “I’m not ready syndrome.” If you are passionate and dedicated, you can create your own opportunities to grow. We all must continue to learn, use our voice and be confident in our own abilities.
What is your advice for other industry women looking to rise to higher ranks?
Continue to challenge yourself; step out of your comfort zone. Probably the most important element of advancement is sharing your ambitions with those who can help you. It’s great to find mentors and sponsors within the company. A mentor can provide support, encouragement and help you grow. A sponsor can ensure your name is in the mix when conversations occur around new opportunities. Passion, drive and determination can take you anywhere you want to go.