Hannaford Partners on Retail Leadership Program

Internship offers foreign-born adult students 12 weeks of paid real-world experience at local stores
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Hannaford Store Main Image
Hannaford is taking part in a program in which a foreign-born adult student is teamed with a company mentor to learn store operations, and the challenges and intricacies of running a supermarket.

Hannaford Supermarkets and Portland Adult Education (PAE) have introduced the New Mainer Hannaford Retail Leadership Internship, a program that attracts and recruits foreign-born candidates with professional backgrounds to gain experience working in retail leadership and potentially fill leadership roles at Hannaford stores in southern Maine.

The 12-week paid internship provides both classroom and in-store training time. Each student is teamed with a Hannaford mentor to learn store operations, and the challenges and intricacies of running a supermarket.

“I’m fortunate to have been part of this program,” said Mamadou Coulibali, an intern in the program who is originally from Mali and has a master’s degree in finance. “For someone who had no retail experience, the classroom time and hands-on training in the store gave me the basics of the operation, the coaching of associates and helped me understand the business culture at Hannaford.” 

Program participants work in several departments across the store to learn and carry out policies and procedures while shadowing store leadership to learn the business at a local level. Further, interns spend three hours a week in a classroom at PAE to reinforce business learnings, develop leadership skills and share their experiences with one another. When the program ends, interns can interview for and move directly into a variety of permanent leadership positions at Hannaford, among them assistant produce manager trainee, produce lead, assistant center store manager trainee, assistant department manager trainee and department manager trainee.

“We are really proud of this program and our partnership with Portland Adult Ed.,” said Jim Hamilton, VP of operations for Hannaford Supermarkets. “Through this work, we are learning how to best attract and recruit potential applicants and support training and career advancement from across different cultures. We can also better understand potential barriers and how to remove these barriers, which can include such things as language and cultural acclimation and integration. We hope that through this real-world experience, they can learn aspects of the grocery business while exploring potential career opportunities at Hannaford in the next step of their journey.”

“We’re excited by the results of this pilot program,” said PAE Assistant Director Elizabeth Love. “All three interns bring a wealth of skills and expertise, and are highly motivated to build their careers in Maine. We’re confident they will succeed and add significant value to the company. We’re grateful for Hannaford’s willingness to think creatively about ways to recruit diverse talent and their outreach to Portland Adult Education to accomplish these goals.”

In December, the three interns successfully completed the program, and have been offered full-time permanent positions with Hannaford, including Coulibali, who was hired as a produce lead.

Along with the programming partnership, Hannaford donated $15,000 to PAE to support program development, coordination and instruction costs. The program is also backed by funding allocated by the city of Portland and administered by the city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development. 

Last year, the grocer committed $500,000 to support racial equity and justice initiatives, economic empowerment efforts, and educational opportunity scholarships focused on diversity, equity and inclusion across its five-state region. 

Scarborough-based Hannaford operates 184 stores in five Northeast states, employing nearly 30,000 associates. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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