When Lowel Gonzalvo first came to Canada, he was working a part-time sales job, and also cleaned at the Ottawa airport. Having immigrated from the Philippines in 2014, he is now working as an assistant grocery manager for Farm Boy, at Ottawa’s Trainyards shopping complex. He’s gone from a part-time employee at the company to full-timer to supervisor, before going all the way to assistant manager. How did he get there? By enrolling in the Business Management diploma program at Algonquin Careers Academy, which helped prepare him for his current role.
Here’s what Lowel has to say about his current career, and how ACA helped set the stage for it.
What Does a Day in the Life of an Assistant Grocery Store Manager Look Like?
Working as an assistant manager for Farm Boy, Lowel Gonzalvo often finds himself with many tasks. His chief responsibility is assisting his department manager, helping ensure all standards for service quality are met across departments—from employees to clients to suppliers. Displays and pricing also need to be checked daily. “Every day is a learning process for me at Farm Boy, because every day we do different things,” he says.
There are also two types of shifts for assistant managers at Farm Boy: an opening leader and a closing leader. The opening leader checks items to examine which ones are not in stock (“scanning holes,” as they call it), while the closing leader is responsible for ordering and/or displaying products, checking on tasks assigned to customer service representatives, and ensuring the store—including every shelf, backroom, and aisle—is clean and organized for the next day. This routine gives Lowel a sense of responsibility every time he puts on his uniform.
The Challenges of Lowel’s Day-to-Day Work Life, and How COVID-19 Has Impacted It
Typical tasks for Lowel include checking for unavailable products, products on sale, or items on the secondary display, where on-sale products are usually placed. Everything at Farm Boy must be checked daily, and prices must be reduced on any item expiring within four days. Assistant managers must also monitor subordinates and their tasks, and that inventory is taken care of each morning so they can order products that can yield bigger sales numbers. All tasks are then reported to the store manager.
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged Lowel’s creative problem-solving skills
While Lowel sees the most challenging aspect as having “sound judgment and decision-making,” the COVID-19 pandemic has added new types of challenges to his everyday work life after graduating from a career college. “It’s really different, because we’re expecting more people to come. We’re expecting more people to be entertained,” he says. “But during the pandemic, it’s just 30% [of clients] coming in. It’s a big challenge, asking ourselves how we’re going to decorate our department in order to make a sale.”
Farm Boy has offered online shopping for the first time, though making the store more progressive remains a challenge. “You have to be creative, to think more about what you’re going to do with your department,” Lowel says. “I feel so bad that we have to reduce the hours of our customer service representatives. But we can’t do anything, it’s the management’s call.” Luckily, he and his staff have been moved to a different Farm Boy store—one twice as big as the previous location.
How Taking a Career College Program at ACA Helped Elevate His Career
Lowel decided he could handle the challenge of returning to school, and enrolled in a career college program in Business Management at ACA. He appreciates how it helped him improve his English communication skills and surrounded him with great classmates and teachers. He says that, “It broadened my knowledge on how to live, how to work, and how to go through life by yourself and with your family here in Canada.”
Lowel says his time at ACA has helped him move up the ranks at Farm Boy
Lowel also credits ACA with helping him refresh his computer skills, as well as understand how to better manage people, interact with clients, and improve his decision-making. He views the program’s Marketing, Business Plans, and Microsoft Office courses as being the ones that best helped prepare him for his career. He also attributes his time at ACA with helping him move up the ranks at Farm Boy. “All the things I've learned from ACA, I always include in my interview, every time I level up,” he says. “I tell them I’m a graduate of Business Management at ACA. They appreciate it a lot.”