Working with People: Success After Thomas

Published: Thursday, April 21, 2016

business

Krista Specht ’10 never expected to be the Senior E-Commerce Operations Support Specialist for Hannaford Supermarket at age 27.

“I don’t know if you can really expect exactly what’s your path or what’s in your future,” she said. “I’ve always had a big picture idea of what I want to do but I’ve never had a specific position in a specific company; that’s just not the way I approach life. I think you have a goal and it has to be broad – and you have a very flexible path to get you to that goal, as long as you don’t lose sight of that.”

Today, she is glad where she is. And she loves her job.

Specht moved into the E-Commerce department at the Hannaford corporate office last year. She works on Hannaford To Go, where you order food online and pick it up at the store. When she started the job, there were nine locations with the program and she helped move it up to 26. Her job is to support stores that are online in Maine and New Hampshire and to help roll out new locations across New England.

“It’s kind of a dual function – and it gets a little crazy. But it’s a very interesting place to be in. My role is a little gray. There are not a lot of rules. I like that. It touches on a lot of different areas in the business.”

For example, Specht works closely with the web, IT, digital marketing, store engineering, construction and design, and retail teams.

“I never thought walking into this role that I would be sitting down with engineers to go over site plans and telling them what things to move around,” she said. “But I like that there is something to learn every day.”

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As a Thomas College student, Specht was very involved: co-president of the Dance Club, the Art Club, Admissions Ambassador, and she helped found the Environmental Awareness group.

Specht said one of the advantages of attending Thomas College was being able to get involved in so many different clubs and committees.

“Yes, I could do my program and my homework, but being on a committee really gives you that different experience. It gets you to exercise some of those soft skills and some of the people management skills like working on teams and collaborating,” she said. “It gave me a chance to create as well as to lead.”

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During her senior year at Thomas, Specht attended the annual Spring Career Fair on campus and found out about Hannaford’s Retail Management Trainee Program. After learning about each department and completing various leadership workshops for a year, Specht became the assistant store manager of the Hannaford store in Saco, Maine.

“It was really challenging. You go into this role and you have department managers who are 20 to 30 years your senior who have been doing their role for years and then you come in and introduce yourself as their new supervisor,” she said. “It was an interesting experience, but I was successful in it. It’s a people business. Yes, it’s groceries, but at the end of the day it’s about interacting with people.”

After almost a year, Specht was looking for something new and she wanted to be able to use her Thomas College Finance degree.

“I wanted to get into a different piece of the business. There was so much that I wanted to know and learn.”

Luckily, she was given the chance to be a temporary forecast analyst for Hannaford. After a couple of weeks of learning through her coworkers, she was thrown into it.

“I remember the first couple of days I sat in front of all of those spreadsheets and working with all of those numbers and I remember thinking ‘I have no idea what I am doing’. But, you trust your gut. As long as logically it makes sense in your mind, you just keep going forward – and it worked.”

After more than a year, she moved into her current position in E-Commerce.

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After college, Specht said she did not think she would be working for a supermarket.

“As a finance major a lot of your peers go on to work in banking and they all start their day with a suit and tie,” she said. “I remember that first year watching all of my peers go off into nice, neat office jobs and I was putting on my apron to do a produce inventory at 4 a.m. It was not fun.”

But, it turned out to be a valuable learning in the foundation of business operations and helped get her where she is today.

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Specht said she chose Thomas College as a high school senior because of the school’s diversity of faculty.

“Having professors that were in academia but also that had a lot of real-world experience was very helpful – the mix of that is really important.”

Specht said she still stays in touch with a lot of her professors.

“I made a lot of friendships with my professors and they are people I respect, have been inspired from and learned a lot from,” she said. “You don’t let those relationships go, and you don’t know when you may collaborate with each other down the road.”

Now, Specht lives in Portland and works in Hannaford’s corporate office in Scarborough. She travels a lot for her job to roll out new locations.

“It is definitely not a nine to five schedule, but I enjoy it,” she said. “You have to give it your all.”

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