Subriana McFadden Pierce: Leading with Inspiration and Innovation
There are some foundational attributes that every business leader has to possess; Perseverance, passion, ambition, conﬁdence are essential ones. But according to Subriana McFadden Pierce, there are some attributes for success that must be talked about ﬁrst, one is ’Relationships’. She asserts “We are all so busy but typically put our heads down and get the job done. We miss the moments of networking and getting known in our respective industry. Developing those relationships are the key to success.” The second attribute is ‘Have a purpose not just a product’. She says “My personal purpose is helping other women. My goal is not just to be the ﬁrst; my goal is to NOT be the last. So if what I’ve done in corporate America or as a business owner helps someone else, then that’s the fulﬁllment. I think just realizing your purpose is what is going to fuel you. Because there will be good days and bad days, but that purpose is what will keep you grounded.”
In an Interview with Insights Success, Subriana has shared insights about her leadership, organization and its success.
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Insights Success and Subriana:
Give a brief overview of your background and your role in Navigator Sales and Marketing.
In 2014 my husband, Allen Pierce had a vision. He imagined a way the two of us could navigate for businesses on their quest for success in the grocery industry and “Navigator Sales and Marketing” his brainchild, was born. Navigator was perfectly positioned to play the “go-between” or the representation role for innovative brands in the grocery industry. I have worked for companies such as Jewel/Osco in Chicago, Campbell Soup, Frito Lay and Albertsons, with work experience on both sides of the desk. The best feeling in the world, is to help another business get onto the grocery shelves. Examples like a business owner seeing their grandmother’s recipe realized in a store or an immigrant father’s vision brought to fruition. Nothing compares to being the catalyst to help other entrepreneurs and small businesses.
How do you diversify your solutions that appeal to your target audience?
Our model is simple. It starts with partnering with wellfunded brands that are right for the industry and oﬀer a distinct brand proposition, a niche, or a unique go-to market strategy. As brokers we stay on top of industry trends. We make sure to position ourselves with suitable brand partners. We aim to build a mutual conﬁdence with our partner retailers that we can bring the appropriate brands to them. I think additionally what helps us consistently reach our target is that our team is made up of the audience we serve. We work with an extremely diverse team of varied ages, races, backgrounds and genders. This gives us a unique think tank for solutions and insights on identifying and placing the right brands. We are the consumers. Diversity of thought has been critical to our success.
What were the past experiences, achievements or lessons that shaped your journey?
I learned adversity can fuel success. You hear all the time about the rough patches that build you, and it’s true. You must learn from those, and not run from them. Also, surround yourself with others that have more experience, vision, strategic and tactical thinking than you. Whatever you need on your team, add it. It should be diﬀerent than what you bring to the table. Look for mentors, connections, and team members that complete you. Find organizations that can help you build relationships in your industry. A fantastic resource of mine has been The Network of Executive Women. Through this organization I’ve met mentors, clients, retail customers, and it has provided learning and engagement opportunities in my industry. I have numerous other industry organizations that I’m a part of. Volunteer opportunities in my industry have been important as well. For instance, I’m on the Food Industries Board for City of Hope where it allows my partners, competitors, and customers to work together for a common goal. Networking will always be essential. Be sure to seek out the mentors and organizations that work best for you. Mentorship isn’t just for corporate America. It’s just as important for business owners.
What were some of the primal challenges and roadblocks that you faced during the initial phase of your journey?
One of my biggest challenges was learning to say no. It is impossible to do it all. I had to learn to step back and ask for help. When you start a small business, you play CEO, COO, CMO, and the list goes on. Finding the support you need in the right areas is the key to growth. Investing in your company is investing in yourself. Owning the business with my husband has had so many beneﬁts, because we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses which helped us carve out our roles. We built our team that way. Secondarily, in all candor, there is not enough representation of Black women in the grocery business. In most of my business journey I’ve been the only black woman in the room. It really just means we’re in a culture that’s not used to seeing people that look like me every day in our setting. We’ve jumped in to prove ourselves, show our value and show our commitment to the grocery industry. I’ve tried to take a leadership role in the industry around diversity and inclusion. I want to continue to lay a foundation for the future leaders of this industry and the future leaders will be diverse. If I can help train and introduce a mindset of diversity now, then that’s part of the legacy I’d love to leave.
Where do you see yourself in the near future and how will you catalyze the change?
The current COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the food industry. For Navigator, the future is expanding our deﬁnition of innovation. It’s key. It’s not just about a product innovation, it is about business process innovation, culture innovation and business model innovation. For example, we are about to release an announcement about a partnership with a tech company which takes Navigator into the next century. The successful business owner will evaluate, re-evaluate and ﬁgure out new ways to grow during times like these. This is when true leaders step up and serve. Subriana and her husband will continue to challenge themselves on developing new ways to level up to Navigator 2.0 and continue to thrive.
Provide one line that best describes your vision and approach to business.
Navigator has earned the reputation for excellence by successfully taking distinctive brands from initial concept through execution on shelves at a national level. Our mantra is: INNOVATE. NAVIGATE. ACCELERATE. We take small businesses and innovative brands, help them navigate grocery retail, and then we accelerate their growth.