LAS VEGAS — The convenience store industry’s top female leaders and up-and-comers were honored Monday evening at Convenience Store News' 2018 Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards reception, following the NACS Show, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The fifth-annual TWIC event celebrated 45 women who are making their mark on the c-store industry.
TWIC is the first and only convenience store industry awards program that recognizes women for outstanding contributions to their companies and the industry overall.
Melissa Stockwell, the first American female soldier to lose a limb in Iraq, served as the keynote speaker for the event. A first lieutenant, Stockwell lost her left leg when a roadside bomb exploded while she was leading a convoy in Baghdad.
She used her adversity to fuel subsequent success as a Paralympian, transforming from wounded warrior to world champ. Stockwell spoke to the night's winners on a personal level about the adversity females face every day.
"In life, it’s not all about the medals. We all want recognition, but it’s not about that. It’s about the journey," she said. "And hard work can pay off."
The mother of two believes anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it. She left the audience with these three key pieces of advice:
Life never goes the way we plan, but we have the ability to persevere.
Believe in yourself and don’t let temporary setbacks stop you.
Nurture the teams in your life, "because when it comes down to it, we’re all in this life together."
Stockwell’s appearance was made possible by TWIC gold sponsor Procter & Gamble.
The 2018 TWIC honorees included five Women of the Year, 15 Senior-Level Leaders, 20 Rising Stars and five Mentors. Judging was conducted by Convenience Store News in conjunction with the Network of Executive Women and the Top Women in Convenience Advisory Board, which includes the previous year's five Women of the Year.
The 2018 Women of the Year were: Line Aarnes, vice president, Global Marketing, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K; Laura Aufleger, vice president, Corporate Communications, OnCue Marketing; Dawn Gillis, senior director, Acquisition Integration – Tech Services, 7-Eleven Inc.; Missy Matthews, president, Childers Oil Co./Double Kwik C-stores; and Maura Scott, vice president, Sales, Northeast, Altria Group Distribution Co.
Upon accepting her award, Aarnes said there are three things she wishes she knew 15 years ago: take opportunities as they come; find your brand ambassadors; and be curious and share your energy.
"To the males in the audience with female directors, don’t try to change them. Be curious and learn from them," she said.
Aufleger, who got her start in the industry when she was 15 working for her family’s convenience store, said she appreciates her support system that gives her the opportunity to not have to make the sacrifice that many women make when it comes to choosing between a family and a career.
Gillis said she is "particularly humbled by this industry" for recognizing her contributions, and encouraged the audience to be their authentic selves because that is what builds authentic relationships.
Humbled to share her award with the other honorees, Scott said she is proud of the work Altria is doing to create a diverse work culture, which is necessary in today’s climate.
"We need strong leadership now, and I look forward to many more years serving my customers, our company and our industry," she said.
The 2018 Top Women in Convenience awards ceremony was sponsored by founding and presenting sponsor Altria Group Distribution Co.; platinum sponsors RAI Trade Marketing Services and Ruiz Food Products Inc.; and gold sponsors Anheuser-Busch, BIC USA Inc., Campbell Soup Co., The Coca-Cola Co., The Hershey Co., Mondelez International Inc. and Procter & Gamble.