RD Close-Up: Kelly Thornton, MBA, RDN, LD, H-E-B Nutrition Services
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Please describe your role at H-E-B.
I’m currently working at H-E-B as a Nutrition Services Program Manager, and the main focus of my role is operations. I’m currently working with the regional leads and store dietitians to ensure that we are delivering a delightful customer experience in-store and via telehealth. I also partner with our Senior Manager, Stacy Bates, RDN, CDE to create product partnerships and collaborate with various providers.
What's the story behind your experience and how you came to work at H-E-B?
During my dietetic internship, I was convinced that I wanted to work in the hospital, so after graduation, I went to work for a major Dallas-based hospital. It only took me a few months to realize that I really like business and patient education and that the hospital wasn’t fulfilling for me, so I moved to work for WIC. I loved the education component of WIC, but it still didn’t quite feel like the right fit, so I decided to try something different. I chose to work in insurance telehealth, which was a new concept for me at the time, and I was able to gain some management experience. After five+ years, I wanted to pursue something new and challenging, and this role at H-E-B felt like the perfect opportunity!
What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in retail?
I wish that I had known more background information about industry trends. If you are thinking about moving into a retail role, get connected! Join professional organizations, follow companies and industry professionals on LinkedIn, and research new health and wellness trends, products, and services.
Has there been anything specific that helped you moved forward in your role?
The experience that I’ve had with project management and process improvement, which taught me to look at processes critically and to consider efficiencies, has been very helpful to me in this role with H-E-B.
Is there a project you are most excited to be working on at H-E-B?
One project that I am thrilled to be working on is an analytics project with our dietitians. I’ll be working with the team to analyze and enhance our dietitian KPIs, and I’m really excited to dig into the data and look for areas where we can build upon our customer experience.
What advice do you have for others interested in transitioning into a retail career path?
Think creatively and ask questions! Look for areas where your experience in other industries or career paths could help generate solutions in the retail environment.
Bio: Kelly is originally from Denton, Texas, and completed her bachelors and dietetic internship at the University of Texas at Austin in 2012. For the past ten years, she’s worked in the medical industry in various capacities, most recently with Centene, a Medicare/Medicaid/ACA insurance provider, where she managed a team of RNs, RTs, CDEs, and RDs who provided telehealth services to members. During her time at Centene, she helped drive process improvement initiatives and worked on numerous program implementations and integrations. Kelly completed my MBA at the University of North Texas in 2018.