As DeltaTrak continues our celebration of Women in Poultry, we’re talking to Compliance Manager, Shari Y. Her company sells eggs across the Southwest. After twelve years in this industry, she says food safety, food quality and regulatory compliance are her passions. Shari is a trailblazer in her own right, as she has inspired other women in her organization to pursue management positions. She has a seat at the table, and her efforts ensure that customers in Arizona and beyond have plenty of safe eggs for breakfast.
Question: Can you describe what you do?
Shari: I oversee the regulatory and customer requirements for food safety, animal welfare and employee safety.
Question: Why did you choose this profession and why have you stayed in your current role for so long.
Shari: In 2008, I met Bill Hickman and then started working for him in 2009. I realized it’s my passion: food safety and regulatory compliance and food quality. It’s really become a passion of mine. I see myself retiring from this.
Question: What is the biggest challenge facing your industry?
Shari: Probably the right to farm. Everybody needs eggs in their life and it’s getting harder and harder to find a place that is suitable for farming without having neighboring influences. You have to use rural areas for farming.
Question: In your opinion, what is the biggest supply chain issue today?
Shari: I think it would probably be customer knowledge. The reason I say that is because almost everybody I know that supplies eggs, (that’s what I know about the most), thinks customers aren’t educated enough. Let’s take cage free for example. From a voter’s (perspective), they want cage free eggs because they think the chicken is better off. But from a food safety standpoint, people need to know the risks involved with cage free such as the (lack of) cleanliness of the barn and the egg. I just don’t think customers are educated on what they are purchasing. It’s that way with a lot of things. Let’s take “Sweet’N Low” for example. I don’t think customers were educated on the effects of saccharin (in the past). If customers were more educated, I don’t think the supply chain would shoot from the hip so much.
Just in the past couple of years we struggled with transportation. Outside drivers were few and far between and gas prices were really crazy. So we hired a transportation director and he purchased a lot larger fleet. (Now) we have a lot more of our own drivers.
Question: How have DeltaTrak products helped you to manage the cold chain?
Shari: I think they (data loggers) are required by some customers for a reason. Because they work. We’ve gone from your five dollar one to the twenty-five dollar one and everything in between. We have found that they (data loggers) save us from losing a load of eggs, giving us the ability to prove the compliance of the temperature in transit. Your DeltaTrak customer support is second to none. You can let (DeltaTrak Territory Manager) know his calls are appreciated. I wouldn’t use anyone else. He doesn’t have to worry that we’re going to buy from anyone else. He’s always really great.
Question: Did you lose any loads before you started using DeltaTrak loggers?
Shari: Oh yeah. We have. And they (eggs) had to go to the breaker plant for pasteurization because they didn’t meet the Shell Egg rule for carton products. They are sold as liquid eggs. Our number one goal is to sell eggs in a carton.
Question: The International Women’s Day theme for 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge, which highlights the importance of challenging biases and misconceptions in the interest of creating a more inclusive and gender-equal world. In what ways do you think you challenge biases and misconceptions?
Shari: : I realized in 2009 when I first came to this company, because it’s agriculture and farming, that it is very much a man’s world. With the regulatory emphasis on food safety, they (the company) hired me to write the food safety and animal welfare programs. When I would go to the Manager’s Meeting in 2009 and 2010 I was one of the only women in the management group.
On Tuesday night we went to our Manager’s Meeting and I was looking around the room and it was about half and half. I was really impressed by that. I think because other women saw what I was able to achieve, it gave them the (motivation) to move up and not be afraid to work side by side with a man, shine more than a man and be eligible to become a manager.
Question: So, how does that feel? You have paved the way for other women coming behind you.
Shari: In 2009 there was one other woman in the Manager’s Meeting and she retired five or six years ago. It really feels good to know that the company respects (women) and makes available equal opportunity employment.
Question: What do you think is the biggest issue facing women professionals today?
Shari: Trying to juggle both home and career because it’s kind of like two full-time jobs.
We enjoyed talking with women who are positively impacting the Poultry industry, and as a result, their communities. Check back next week as we wrap up our celebration of Women’s History Month.