Meet a Contributor: Abby Prior, VP Business Development, BrightFarms

Abby Prior VP Business Development, BrightFarmsSince her mission aspires to bring BrightFarms produce to “every consumer in America,” Abby Prior spends a lot of her time on the road. Abby leads sales and marketing for BrightFarms, which grows produce locally, year-round, at greenhouse farms in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Abby joined BrightFarms in 2015, bringing her expertise in consumer marketing from previous positions in the food industry, including Bimbo Bakeries USA, Aramark and Unilever.

We asked Abby about what drew her to the food industry — and what keeps her engaged in it.

You’ve spent your career in the food industry. What initially drew you to this business?
I began my career in the food industry after gaining my undergraduate degree. I loved the ability to have an impact on foods that my friends and family consumed. My first brand was Ragu. I threw myself at it and learned more about tomatoes than I ever knew I could! I launched Ragu Organic and became passionate about the nutritional value of food and how it was grown early on.

Think about an assignment or role that’s stretched your capabilities. What did you learn from the experience?
When I joined BrightFarms, I took on a role that was bigger and broader than any others I'd had in my career. When I joined, we were extremely lean and a few leaders wore many hats. I led sales, account management, marketing and communications. Every day, I faced new challenges that I'd never encountered before. We’ve grown as an organization since then, but I will always look back on my first year here as the most challenging and rewarding experience I’ve had.

What’s your approach to coaching your team at BrightFarms?
As a leader at BrightFarms, my role is to support our team and facilitate my team’s development and success. I’m most comfortable in an organization that supports servant leadership, so BrightFarms is a great fit for me.

What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office every day?
My role is a bit nomadic, so I’m rarely in the same place two days in a row! But every day, our team commits to a “daily huddle”: We share over instant messaging our primary objectives for the day and anything we are stuck on. It creates alignment and focus for our team.

If you were advising a young professional in the produce field on how to have an enduring career with greater responsibility over time, what would you tell them?
Take the time to recognize the special opportunity you have to be a part of the evolution of America’s health. There is goodness in what we do and sell, not everyone has the opportunity to feel that in their work every day.

Thinking about Center for Growing Talent by PMA, what do you think is the most important work they do for the produce industry? How have you and your company benefited from that work?
BrightFarms is a relative newcomer to the produce industry, and with that we feel we bring new value and insights to the team. Yet we also know that there is tremendous value in the years of experience that the CGY by PMA brings. We’ve taken advantage of leadership training, networking events and now will be participating in the intern task force. We appreciate the support and guidance of the CGT as we scale our business nationally.