"The benefit is that I’m effectively working with my friends"

Jeanene Harrison

Director of Project Quality and Value Assurance, Ahold Delhaize USA

Director of Project Quality and Value Assurance, Ahold Delhaize USA

This year marks Jeanene Harrison’s 20-year anniversary at Ahold Delhaize USA – quite the milestone. “Working for such a large organization means the opportunities for growth and development are endless. Over the past two decades, I have never done the same sort of work for more than two consecutive years, even if my job title has stayed the same. This variety is one of the key reasons why I love my work as much as I do.”  

Variety is one motivator, but when asked about the main reason why she still enjoys working for Ahold Delhaize, even after nearly 20 years, her reply is clear-cut: “the people”. “Over the years I have worked in six roles in four different departments, and in every position, I developed relationships with my coworkers. The benefit is that I’m then effectively working with my friends. It’s important to have a balance where you work hard, but also have fun.” 

Jeanene has held her current position – Director of Project Quality and Value Assurance – for nearly three years. “This role feeds my appetite for variety. Our tight-knit team features three directors and one manager (two in the U.S. and two in the Netherlands) and we’re involved in projects across the organization. The projects we work on are all strategic in nature and IT-enabled, but they’re always very different from one another. We approach every project as an independent entity and look for commonalities in order to provide transparency, identify possible areas for improvement and advise on how projects can be enhanced.”  


“During the course of every project I get to work with people from different brands, departments and countries. I love that this role broadens my horizons and gives me international exposure – I collaborate with European colleagues a lot. I really enjoy interacting with different people and appreciate the diversity of thought and perspective that this brings. The desire to understand people and their similarities and differences drives me daily.”   

While Jeanene thrives on connecting with people in the workplace, it's often a different story at home. “Some people find it hard to believe, but I am actually an introvert. I gain strength from being by myself. As much as I love being around people, it also consumes quite a bit of my energy. It’s all about finding the right balance. Walking my dog, Ripley, during my lunch break or after work is a perfect way to unwind.” 

The importance of human connection

Up until COVID hit, Jeanene wouldn’t have even considered working from home – after all, she needs interaction with colleagues. But now, even after the pandemic has subsided, the reality is that she still works from home most of the week. “My colleagues and I go to the office at least once a week. 

While I’m still not the biggest fan of working from home, I have gotten used to it. That said, I put a lot of effort into ensuring that we still meet up after work for drinks or dinner. As I live only five miles from the office, my home has served as the go-to gathering place more than once. I believe it’s important to see each other in person on a regular basis. As humans, we need that connection. When you work in such a big company, strong relationships just make things easier.” Jeanene experienced the value of having a good network first-hand when she transitioned from the Business Project Management Office (PMO) to the IT PMO in 2013. “I was working on an ERP program around the time that they were looking for project managers in the IT PMO. I was keen to make the jump, even though I had no background in technology. The team in that department already knew me and were familiar with my work approach, so they took a risk and invited me to join them. That move was definitely a career highlight and actually enabled my promotion to Senior Manager a year later. This shows the importance of building relationships, but it also illustrates that it’s key to go after opportunities yourself. There are so many in this company, but you will have to proactively pursue them and make yourself heard and seen.”  

That’s what friends are for

There’s another reason why her promotion was quite significant for her: it took place while Jeanene was dealing with breast cancer.  It was obviously an intense and challenging time for her, but Jeanene tried to keep living life as normally as possible. “I just worked through it. It’s different for everyone, but I personally just couldn’t be at home. I needed to be around people and hold on to a sense of normality. I told a few people – my boss, my project team and some colleagues – but there were lots of people who had no idea. It wasn’t until I took my wig off that they found out. In solidarity, one of my colleagues, who’s also a close friend, shaved her head so we could grow our hair back together. Friends like that get you through experiences like this one – as does a supportive employer that’s willing to promote you despite circumstances.”

Aholddelhaize_woman_walking_with_dog_in front_of_house.jpg

Name: Jeanene Harrison

Started working at Ahold Delhaize US (Hannaford Supermarkets): September 2004

Studied: BA Accounting (Washington State University, College of Business and Economics, 1992) 

Living with: My dog, Ripley

Hobbies: Dancing, gardening and volunteering as a financial specialist for entities like Tri Delta, Cornell University and Colgate

Wake me up in the middle of the night for: I have insomnia – I wake up time and time again anyway

Favorite holiday destination: Anywhere tropical – give me a sandy beach and a beverage, and I’m happy

Life-changing event: Overcoming breast cancer

Biggest source of inspiration: My friendships

Best advice I’ve ever received: “Be genuine; just be you”

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