Stephanie Postma loves the people she works with. “I know it sounds cliché, but people really make the difference. If things aren’t going well or you’re having a bad day, there are always people around to pick you up.” As a national category sales manager for Hormel Foods, Stephanie brings her enthusiasm and sense of adventure to all of her endeavors. When she’s not concentrating on sales strategy and trade marketing, she’s packing her bags for an exotic destination or working to connect women with opportunities at the company she’s called home for 13 years.
Tell us about your early years.
I grew up in a village in southwest Michigan with my parents, two siblings and a large extended family. It was definitely a rural setting. I think my high school graduating class had only 120 people. It was very small. Yet, we were close to a city, so I never felt isolated.
My parents were teachers who did a very good job of supporting each other and sharing responsibilities. For example, my dad did most of the cooking. He always got home earlier than my mom, so he would roll up his sleeves, tend to whatever my brother, sister and I needed, and get dinner going.
Food and family. It’s about comfort, security, belonging and love.Stephanie Postma
Did you have a large family?
My immediate family was five, but Grandma, Grandpa and lots of cousins were always around. My grandparents were always at school events. All of the cousins got together to celebrate birthdays. That was harder to pull off as we got older and busier, but we’ve stayed close over the years.
Since this is Cooking & Culture, we have to ask what your thoughts are about food?
As I mentioned, my dad did most of the cooking. I didn’t realize at the time how critical that was to the stability of our family and the strength of my parents’ marriage. My husband and I both have careers and busy lives and we believe it’s important to support each other. I think my parents showed me by example how important that is. There are times when one of us will take care of it so the other doesn’t have to worry. Maybe just as often, we’re doing it together. It’s our time to talk and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.
Is food different for you than it used to be?
I think it still plays the role that it always has of bringing people together, but our world today is just so busy. My grandmother used to can—jams, pickles, applesauce—and we’d get to enjoy that whenever we visited them. I don’t know a lot of people who have that much time nowadays, but I think there is a return to those long-ago sensibilities of food and family. We just have to find easier ways to do it. Casseroles are a good example of that. They’re nostalgic and big timesavers at the same time. We had a chicken-and-rice casserole often when growing up. Even today, my mother makes a cheesy potato casserole that I just love.
Do you make a lot of casseroles?
Light and healthy are important to me and my husband, and I never thought of casseroles in that regard. Chef Sandy has shown me that a few adjustments can bring them more in line with our goals. Also, since it’s only the two of us, I always wondered what we’d do with all of the leftovers. Sandy suggested cutting the recipes down to make smaller—even individual—portions, freezing, and then baking the smaller portions. So, I think more casseroles might be in my future.
When you’re not working for Hormel Foods or cooking at home with your husband, what do you do?
When I have free time, I’m either reading, traveling or spending time with friends. Travel, in particular, is a passion of ours. I’ve traveled a lot for work and in fact, have lived all over the country for Hormel Foods, and that’s been great. Our leisure travel takes us far, far away. We’re currently planning our next trip…a Baltic cruise with one other couple. To date, Thailand has been my favorite vacation spot.
You’ve been part of the Women Our Way employee resource group since the beginning. Did you volunteer for that position?
I very much wanted to be part of WOW. I saw it as an opportunity to develop my leadership skills, meet new people and help others in the company. It’s been all that and more. I’m the co-chair of the Connection Committee. At the most basic level, we try to connect people with opportunities here at Hormel Foods. Opportunities to do public speaking, volunteer, lead projects, develop their own skills, etc.
In your mind, what is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
The biggest issue is time, I think. It seems like women tend to have lofty goals pertaining to work and home and sometimes, there is simply no time to make it all happen. I think of my life as a pie that gets sliced up differently each day. The size of those slices of pie changes every day. What I appreciate at Hormel Foods is that I can integrate who I am at work and outside work.