Women in Business Q&A: Angela Pellegrini, Saffron Road

Women in Business Q&A: Angela Pellegrini, Saffron Road
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Angela Pellegrini manages many important facets at Saffron Road, which has become one of the fastest growing food brands in the U.S. She is one of few women in the food industry that supervises all third party certifications such as, the Non GMO project and the Gluten-Free Certification Organization whom food quality and safety is paramount. Along with working closely with the brand's customer service, Angela is also responsible for packaging art work and managing the operational process. Angela was recently named as one of Fairfield County's 40 Under 40.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I started observing life experiences that could shape my career while attending LIM College. The curriculum and environment taught me how to embrace thinking outside the box, run a successful business and challenge myself in everyday tasks. I've taken these realistic approaches to tackle roadblocks to achieve personal and professional goals.

How did your previous employment experience aid your position at Saffron Road?
Thankfully I've had the opportunity to work in many job fields before joining the stellar Saffron Road team. I've worked in public relations, finance, fashion, real estate, and hospitality. These different roles have taught me to be confident in my decision making as well as believe in the work I put my name on at the end of the day. I truly find these skills help me excel working for a small company like Saffron Road. I really have found my true passion, and I don't consider what I do a job; it's a part of my mission.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Honestly, work/life balance can be a struggle and I'm not perfect at it. I am extremely passionate about my position at Saffron Road and I feel we are bringing people together through food and changing the way we eat one customer at a time. That said, it's important to take a step back and reenergize every now and then. A long work commute on top of daily operational responsibilities can take its toll, but I keep active in the gym as a stress reliever and you can often find me deep in the woods, eating lunch atop one of New England's largest mountains for a nice relaxing hike on the weekends.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Saffron Road?
I am proud about the pioneering Saffron Road has done within the food industry. This brings me great joy that we are continuously raising the bar for standards for this community. For example, we were the first company to offer a frozen entrée that included antibiotic free chicken and we recently launched a new line of Korean frozen entrées and tacos, making Saffron Road one of the first to bring Korean frozen entrées to the all-natural premium category.

When I started at Saffron Road, there was an opportunity for me to hit the ground running with the Non GMO Project Verification, and my colleagues were supportive of me taking on such a daunting task. Through my leadership, Saffron Road introduced the first frozen entrée verified in the U.S. by the Non GMO Project - it was certainly a highlight and a challenge combined into one project. Every company has its challenges, but since we are small and nimble, we learn from mistakes and then move on to tackle the next issue.

What advice can you offer women seeking a career in the food industry?
My advice to anyone wanting to work in the food industry, or any industry is to do what you love and never be afraid to ask questions. If you aren't passionate about the "story" of your company, or share the same values, it is most likely the wrong choice for employment. You need to be invested in the mission of the brand resulting in a positive impact in your world.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Finding the right work/life balance seems to be a constant struggle for women. Women want to perform extremely well at work as well as be a super mom, wife, friend or sister can be draining journey. It's important to find time for yourself in order to rejuvenate so it's doesn't feel like life is passing you by without really truly living.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
I think it is wonderful that Sheryl is continuing to set the bar and encourage women of all ages and occupations to leave their mark in a positive way. I believe she does an incredible job at empowering women to overcome obstacles and be confident in their career path.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
My professional and personal support team of mentors has allowed me to understand not only myself but the world we live in so that I can continue growing into the influential leader. I have the mindset that surrounding myself with successful individuals is only going to positively steer my career and life in the right direction.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I really admire Vani Hari also known as the Food Babe - she started a powerful website to help educate consumers about food, the good and the bad, by decoding the nutrition labels and communicating how products are made in order to help society make informative decisions in this over-processed food world. She took it upon herself to take a stand against corporate companies who are hiding chemicals in the supposedly healthy food. Her "Food Babe Army" consists of the thousands of Americans who have the same passion as she does. This passion and voice has led some companies to remove questionable ingredients from their products. This is really inspiring to me since Saffron Road is also completely transparent with our consumers. All products are clearly labeled with the appropriate nutritional information and certifications.

What are your hopes for the future of Saffron Road?
That Saffron Road can continue to be a pioneer in the natural food industry since we began in 2010. My wish is to continue verifying every product we make through the Non GMO Project at some point in the near future. The struggles we currently face with ingredient sourcing should decrease as more consumers are informed of the hazards of consuming GMOs. My goal is Saffron Road will continue to be a trusted name brand for many more years to come.

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