TWIC Talk With Maverik Inc.'s Danielle Mattiussi
NATIONAL REPORT — Now in its fifth year, the Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards program has recognized 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 new 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 challenges, the opportunities — and get their words of wisdom for up-and-comers seeking to blaze their own trail.
This month’s TWIC Talk subject is Danielle Mattiussi, vice president of retail operations at Maverik Inc., the Salt Lake City-based operator of more than 300 convenience stores. In 2016, Mattiussi was one of the five women celebrated by TWIC as Women of the Year.
CSNews: 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?
Mattiussi: As I view the c-store industry, I see commitment to not only gender equality, but also equality in a much broader sense. Company leaders, industry media and partner vendors understand the importance of gender parity in terms of business benefits — they’re not only talking about it, but they’re taking action. It seems to be quite a balanced industry. The opportunities lie in ensuring that the contribution of women are realized in senior-level leadership positions — not solely entry- and mid-level — and are representative of the entire organization.
CSNews: What is the most positive change you have personally witnessed?
Mattiussi: I have personally witnessed how fast change can occur in the development of gender equality when there is commitment at the top. When the tone is set and expectations are communicated, leaders who make hiring decisions do get onboard in terms of how they assess and select talent, and they tend to think more thoroughly about the overall makeup of teams and strengths of individual contributors to those teams. The pace of this industry is fast. Sometimes people may just not notice and simply need the challenge to think differently.
CSNews: Along your career path, did you personally experience gender bias or inequality? If so, how did you overcome?
Mattiussi: I think biases live all around us. The question for me personally has been: Is this behavior representative of one person or is this representative of the company I am working for? In a past experience, a belief that the company was committed to pursuing a balanced and diverse workplace made it easy for me to remain committed to the business. I grew more comfortable in choosing "my people" — those mentors (male and female) who could help me along the way. Now, in leading an organization where there are hundreds of retail leaders responsible for living the corporate leadership values, I have a much deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, how one person’s treatment of others is seen as wholly representative of the entire company. One person who introduces bias into treatment of others or decision-making can have a profound impact — positive or negative — on many. The goal is that all employees get the company message, and all leaders work in concert to support it.
CSNews: What barriers to advancement do you see still existing in the c-store industry?
Mattiussi: I see the c-store industry overall as having limited barriers. The industry reflects an openness and commitment to diversity. As I look around and see key players in our industry, there is a great mix of highly qualified women leading companies, leading industry associations, leading as consultants, and contributing on panels. There is a huge population of phenomenal female leaders around the industry leading retail operations teams. The opportunities lie within the gaps, so it’s important to take a close look. I think "above store" leadership is an opportunity within the industry. Are the women rising through the store positions well-equipped to be successful at progressive levels of responsibility, including multi-unit leadership and 10 times to 100 times the fiscal responsibility? If not, how can we get them there?
CSNews: What is your advice for other industry women looking to rise to higher ranks?
Mattiussi: My advice is to create opportunities to shine. If you need to, seek out advice from mentors who can guide you in terms of what may provide great value to the company and increased visibility for your talent and skills. Know that there are opportunities to redefine positions based on the additional value you can bring to any role, so don’t be constrained by the job description as an absolute, or think you need to be a 100-percent match. Lastly, it’s important to have a mentor who sees the value you bring, is helpful in "putting you out there" to gain exposure and be seen by others, and is actively involved in helping you get to where you want to be. One day, you will be in a position to "pay it forward."