RD Close Up: Jess Pirnak, RD, Choices Market, British Columbia, Canada
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
How did you get your start in the retail industry?
Dietetics was my second degree and as a mature student I knew going into the profession that my passions were education, prevention and promoting a healthy community, so I looked for opportunities that fit with my values and passions. While doing my internship at Children’s Hospital, I chose Choices Markets as my one-week fun elective and I just fell in love with the position. After graduating I kept in touch with the nutrition team at Choices Markets and volunteered with them at every trade show and event I could. Once a position came up as an in-store nutrition consultant, I jumped on it!
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
The biggest challenge for me is to remember that grocery stores are a business and they look at numbers. Trying to balance my integrity as a dietitian and wanting to help the store make money is definitely a challenge and requires a balancing act.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I wish I knew how small the community of retail dietitians were in Canada. There is not a lot of support or sharing of ideas/initiatives amongst the other retail dietitians. We all work isolation at our respective company.
What has helped you move forward in your role as a retail RD?
Since starting as an in-store nutrition consultant I have moved into a resource dietitian position and then just recently as the nutrition operations manager. I’ve been fortunate enough to be allowed to grow over the last three years with the support of the nutrition team and management.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
I’m a forever student and just love to learn. Bringing in educators to our team meetings allows us to keep up-to-date on products. I also enjoy researching companies and exploring the answers to different customer questions as customers are the ones telling us what is trending in the food world.
More about Jess: Jess is a Registered Dietitian working in Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver. She is registered with the College of Dietitians of British Columbia and is an active member of Dietitians of Canada. Jess graduated from UBC's Food Nutrition and Health program, and completed her dietetic internship with Provincial Health Services Authority after finishing a Psychology degree from SFU.