Powell River Shoppers Drug Mart associate Andrew Fong has been awarded “New Associate of the Year” by his company.
Fong, who moved from Vancouver to take the reigns at Shoppers in December 2017, said he was honoured to receive the prize.
“You only get one chance at this award,” he said. “I was just honoured that my district manager and senior vice president advocated for me. I’ve had great mentors all along the way.”
The prize, which Shoppers awards every year to one new pharmacy associate, was presented last month at the company’s annual conference, held this year in Cancún, Mexico.
New associates first had to compete for “Best New Associate” in their respective provinces: BC, Ontario, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador. The contenders were then evaluated by a national panel of judges from across Canada.
The judges based their final decision on the candidates’ performances in several key areas, including leadership approach, engagement, coaching, personal achievement, customer service, community involvement and carrying the “CORE” values of company.
“The CORE values are essentially the building blocks of what the company means,” explained Fong. “It stands for care, ownership, respect and excellence.”
Fong emerged as this year’s victor, collecting the award in front of 3,000 of his colleagues from across the country.
“We’re working towards making things not so business-oriented, but more family-oriented within Shoppers,” said Fong. “Our culture is based on three principles: being authentic, building trust and making connections.”
Fong became associate at Shoppers during a particularly tragic and challenging time for the store. He said he has worked hard to keep the business on the straight and narrow, while respecting the legacy of his predecessor and deep roots his employees have in the store.
“I’ve tried to be myself, and to build personal relationships with everybody,” he added. “I tried to bring people together when I came.”
Fong said he has also worked to a foster a working culture focused on team bonding and stress reduction.
“It’s all about making sure everybody is under one vision,” he said.
A born and bred Vancouverite, Fong said he wanted to earn the respect of his colleagues, many of whom have lived and worked in Powell River their entire professional lives.
“A big part of it was being the new, young Vancouver kid with all these crazy ideas, but I wanted to gain respect from everybody. Many of the staff have been here for a long time, so that respect was really important to me,” he said. “I wanted to show I wasn’t just coming here as a stepping stone to something different. It’s something I’m really passionate about and want to grow into.”
Fong has also embraced small-town life by engaging his team with the local community. He has organized a bowling night, a golf tournament and a beer-and-a-burger fundraiser, last year, for the Grace House charity.
“It was a great example of how the store has evolved and come together; each department manager prepared a dish; the delivery drivers were cooking the burgers,” said Fong. “We ended up selling 125 tickets to the community, and raised over $2,700 for the charity.”