Meet the team members who are helping our customers create a more sustainable food future. Kristen To, Strategy Manager, shares her journey with TELUS and the skills that help her in her job.
Meet Kristen To, a Strategy Manager based in Calgary. Kristen shares her journey with TELUS, how she stays current on agriculture and food topics and the skills and experience that help her in her job.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I started at TELUS in 2005 as a proposal manager in enterprise sales and progressed to roles in product management, business development and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). In 2019, I had the opportunity to join a new team to work on building out a new line of business for TELUS – that team has now grown into TELUS Agriculture.
Outside of work, I enjoy travelling (back when we could), creating with my daughters, helping with a food blog (mostly as a taste tester at as many restaurants as possible) and my personal passion project: documenting my family's history (surviving the war, journey to Canada and life as new immigrants).
What’s your role at TELUS Agriculture? As Strategy Manager, I help plan, organize and create a clear path for our team so we all know which direction we need to go next. Our team is constantly evaluating, building and refining our strategy plans for the next three-plus years. We contemplate what we could look like, where we could expand, how do we get there, etc.
What does a typical work day look like for you? There are no typical days. For instance, today, I’m developing different organizational structure models, evaluating the financial implications on a target file, listening to agriculture podcasts while squeezing in a personal rowing session and digesting TELUS’ quarterly results.
Yesterday, I worked on a M&A deal, finalized our quarterly review for our CEO, attended a capital working call, pulled together an executive brief on our strategy, priorities and organizational structure and worked on refreshing our strategy plan.
What experiences and skills prepared you for your role? My role requires a fundamental understanding of the agriculture and food industry, which I gained through research, looking at the different players in the sector and from the industry knowledge we have on our team. From my previous roles, I’m able to call on business and financial analysis acumen and strategic planning experience. I also trained and achieved certification in project and program management and business analysis.
In terms of other skills, I learned through on-the-job learning, mentorship, talking to other strategy managers and lots and lots of self-learning and research.
What's the best career advice you received? Be curious and act on it. When you are no longer asking why, it’s time to move on.
What's the most common question you get about TELUS Agriculture? “Why is TELUS in agriculture?” TELUS believes in aligning social purpose with business and is able to help businesses in the food value chain use technology and information to grow their efficiencies and bottom line, while contributing to better food outcomes for everyone.
What inspires you to come to work every day? Building out a new line of business with a strong social purpose.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Wear sunscreen, slow down and travel.
What's your favorite food? A simple roast spatchcock chicken with seasonal roast veggies.