RD Close-Up: Mandy Katz, MS, RD, CSP, LDN, CLC, Giant Food
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Describe your role at Giant.
I’m responsible for supporting and executing brand initiatives and programs regarding nutrition and healthy living offerings and managing an extensive portfolio of channels to provide nutrition-related education, support, and guidance to Giant’s customers, associates, and communities. In simpler terms – I create and manage nutrition content.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and how you came to work at Giant Food?
Before I became a dietitian, I worked for 18 years in food marketing and had my own consulting business. I had the pleasure of working with a variety of amazing brands and see the grocery business from the other side. Then, due to so many extenuating circumstances, I ended up making a career change. I initially started out as a pediatric dietitian but really missed marketing. In 2016 when a spot on the Giant nutrition team opened, I was excited to join and be able to use all my skill sets in one job.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Grocery is big business and it moves like corporations do – slowly and methodically. But as a someone who thinks a mile a minute, this can be frustrating! The good news is that Giant has an amazing marketing team and strong leadership that understands and continues to encourage my fast forward thinking. We also have a lot of autonomy, so we do have the satisfaction of moving ahead on our own on some projects.
What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in retail?
No one told me that the grocery store is a cold place to work and that sweaters, boots, and heavy socks are the dress code. Everyday brings new challenges and unknowns which I find exciting, so I love those surprises. The cold, not so much. I mean even in July it’s so cold!
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
The only thing that holds me back is time. I’m fortunate to have a job I love that allows me to stretch so I don’t often feel held back. BUT - there is so much I want to do! I’ve read every book on time and project management and I’ve researched planners and apps. The truth is that there just isn’t any more time available. So, with some excellent mentoring I’m learning to focus on the big picture and sharing the workload. Which is hard, we dietitians are so type A!
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that help you moved forward in your role?
I mentioned mentorship - at Giant we call it “Championing.” Anytime we want to move forward it needs to be a combination of effort and guidance. I’m so lucky to have Lisa Coleman, the Director of Healthy Living at Giant, to fire me up and, when needed, give me a nudge. Her guidance along with an empowering reading list has made me focus more on process and people instead of self and perfection. 2020 favs include Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle, and James Clear.
Is there a program or initiative of which you are most proud?
I love our podcast. In 30 minutes or less, we’re able to help our customers find new products and hear the story behind the foods they put in their carts as well as teach people how to eat and shop for a wide variety of lifestyle conditions. We’re also able to connect them with experts they may not normally hear from – the farmer that grows their produce, a food historian from the Smithsonian, a BBQ grill master from the Food Channel, a sex therapist about aphrodisiac foods, and more. I feel so lucky to be a part of it and meet the most amazing people.
Mandy Katz, MS, RD, CSP, LDN, CLC, is one of 11 Nutritionists at Giant Food. She’s also the host of their Nutrition Made Easy PodcastTM . Along with the rest of the team, she works to help customers fill their carts with foods that meet their health goals, budget, and family preferences. Before becoming a dietitian, she worked in food marketing and had the pleasure of feeding the circus elephants, making Maryland’s largest salad, selling bread at the height of the Atkins Diet craze, and developing a cookbook for one of the nation’s top-selling pretzel companies.