Nelly Hermosillo goes through life with a simple creed: “Just treat others the way you want to be treated,” she says. If her philosophy holds true, Nelly is entitled to the best people have to offer.
“She is always looking out for other team members’ well-being,” said Tracy Brown, plant manager at Rochelle (Ill.) Foods, when he awarded Nelly the Pride of the Jersey. “She is an advocate for our Safety First culture and ensures that we look out for one another.”
Nelly joined the company in 1995, along with her brother and father. While they stayed on, she left after about five years, only to return in 2013. “The grass isn’t as green [on the other side],” she laughs. “This is a really good company.”
In seven years’ time, Nelly has risen from production professional to quality control auditor to production supervisor to lead supervisor for Grocery Products, each time encouraging team members – especially women – to reach for the stars. “If I can do it, you can do it,” she’s often said. The result is more diversity in the ranks of Rochelle Foods, something that matters to Nelly. So much so, she recently volunteered to lead the engagement and belonging effort for the facility.
She is always looking out for other team members’ well-being.Tracy Brown, Rochelle Plant Manager
“It’s another example of her dedication and commitment to our team,” Tracy says.
Nelly fosters a culture of belonging in ways large and small, including mailing out more than 150 holiday cards and learning enough of the many languages spoken by team members at Rochelle Foods to be able to greet them in their native tongues.
“I don’t speak a lot of languages, but I know how to say hello and goodbye in most of them,” she says.
She’s also known for organizing get-togethers at the plant to recognize promotions, retirements and other achievements. “They deserve to be celebrated and to know that we care,” she says. On top of onsite parties, Nelly stages outings at local restaurants, bringing together team members from various levels and shifts to talk and get to know each other. She selects the location; anyone who wants to show up is welcome.
I don’t speak a lot of languages, but I know how to say hello and goodbye in most of themNelly Hermosillo
“It brings the group together as people get to know each other,” she says.
Naturally the brakes were on activities such as those during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although masks and other safety measures were tough, that was perhaps the biggest challenge, Nelly says.
“It affected socializing the most. We were used to having parties and recognizing each other. With distancing, we weren’t able to do as much of that or at least do it in the same way.”
Now there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. “We’re getting back to enjoying many of the things we used to do before COVID,” Nelly says. “People are glad they’re able to celebrate something together, to be appreciated with a meal.”
Nelly’s time outside work is filled with reading, movies and travel; she’s been to France, Switzerland, Holland, Mexico, Germany and countless places in the United States, to name just a few. She also loves to cook, and given that she’s – by her own admission – not a good sleeper, she spends a lot of time in the kitchen, making her co-workers the beneficiaries of her craft.
Indeed, team members are like family to Nelly.
“I never married, I have no kids,” she says. “I take in all the younger supervisors and try to coach them. I invite them to Thanksgiving dinner.”
Her desire to make people feel welcome may well be due in large part to her own experience. Nelly lived in the Chicago area during her early years. When she was 12, her parents, who don’t speak English, decided to return to Mexico, where they stayed for about 10 years.
“It was a challenge both ways,” Nelly says. “But if you put in the time and the dedication, you can get anywhere.”
Even more, you can help others along the way.
“I’m willing to share everything I know,” she says. “Mostly, I tell people to just keep going.”