Sandra Sanderson counts herself among the lucky few who can say they are pursuing their passions every day. From a young age, she set her sights on a career in marketing – she even wrote about it in her high school yearbook. And when Sandra sets her mind to something, there’s no stopping her. This can-do attitude has led Sandra, currently Senior Vice President of Marketing for Empire Company Limited to build an impressive career.
Sandra has successfully led the marketing of many iconic brands across diverse industries. She began her career in consumer-packaged goods, working on brands like Ivory, Mr. Clean, Kraft Dinner, Minute Maid, Secret and Olay. She also led marketing in the public sector, as General Manager of Brand Marketing at Canada Post, as well as in entertainment as Senior Vice-President of Marketing at Universal Studios Canada. Sandra’s career journey eventually led her to retail. Prior to Empire, she was Senior Vice-President of Marketing at Shoppers Drug Mart, Chief Marketing and Quality Officer at Walmart Canada and Senior Vice-President of White House Black Market in the U.S.
At Empire, Sandra has been a driving force behind the company’s transformation, leading the charge on its renewed marketing efforts and solidifying its position as a grocery industry leader and innovator. She spearheaded the digital transformation of Empire’s marketing while overseeing a broad portfolio of its brands, including Sobeys, Safeway, Thrifty Foods, Foodland, FreshCo, and Lawtons. As a member of Empire’s Executive Committee, Sandra is accountable for all aspects of marketing, including brand strategies, integrated marketing, Scene+ loyalty program, private label marketing, marketing technology, sports partnerships, community investments, consumer insights and an in-house creative team.
Sandra led Empire’s multi-channel marketing campaigns and deepened its support of communities, families, and Canadians throughout the pandemic. In early 2020, Sandra led the launch #OneBigFamily, a heartfelt campaign to celebrate and thank frontline grocery worker heroes across the country. She oversaw the creation of Empire’s Community Action Fund, which enabled teammates at more than 1,500 stores across Canada to allocate funds to address the most urgent community needs during COVID-19. She also oversaw the launch of Family of Support, which brings together 13 Children’s Hospital Foundations to support child and youth mental health.
The driving force behind several marquee partnerships at Empire, Sandra secured a sought-after Olympic partnership that made Empire the first-ever Official Grocer of Team Canada. She recently led the transformation of Empire’s loyalty program – one of the most complex transformational projects ever undertaken by the company. Along with Scotiabank and Cineplex, Empire became a co-owner of Scene+ in 2022, joining forces to transform Scene+ into Canada’s preeminent loyalty program and bringing unparalleled value to consumers.
Throughout her career, Sandra has invested in giving back to the marketing community with a demonstrated commitment to professional and industry excellence. Sandra served on the Canadian Marketing Association’s Board of Directors for four years, including as Vice-Chair. She was Chair of Retail Council of Canada’s Senior Retail Marketing Committee and was on the Advisory Board of the Shopper Marketing Forum and Dx3. Sandra has chaired and judged numerous marketing awards and is a frequent speaker at marketing conferences. She was previously on the Board of Directors for Tiary.com, a female founded online jewelry start-up and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Scene+, and Special Olympics.
Sandra’s accomplishments have not gone unrecognized. In 2022, Strategy’ named her Marketer of the Year for the second time and in 2020 named Sobeys Brand of the Year. In 2020, Sandra was recognized as Marketer of the Year by the Canadian Marketing Association and was a recipient of the Star Women in Grocery Award in 2015.