Claudia is one of our valued team members managing our Operations and Logistics Team out of Issaquah, Washington, for the Vanguard International arm of our business. Leadership of any kind is not always easy but Claudia makes it look like she was born to do it all! With an eye that catches any detail big or small, and a positive attitude that is crucial for relationship management in this role, we are grateful to have Claudia as part of our team.
Let’s get to know Claudia a little more!
VG: Has Washington always been home or did you re-locate for work?
Claudia: I grew up in Piura, a city located in the Northern part of Peru. It is known as “La Ciudad del Eterno Calor” The City of Eternal Warmth, and this is not just because of the weather – but also its people. My family has been supported by that community for many years and I would say my heart belongs there! I moved from Peru to Washington inmediately after graduating from business school. Once I arrived in Washington I enrolled to get an Associate Degree in International Business. Washington quickly became a second home. I treasure it as I have a large community comprised of both relatives, and those that I’ve learned and grown with throughout the years that I also consider family.
VG: Have you always been destined for produce? Where did your career start?
Claudia: After obtaining my Associate Degree in International Busines, I was hired by (ClearFreight Inc.) a customs broker agency to do a year of practical training. Working in their small office environment had real learning benefits. I was hired to be an Import Coordinator Associate, but I had the opportunity to do a little bit of everything, and was motivated to accomplish everything thrown my way. From clearing cargo from US Customs, to tracking containers, to talking to US Customs inspectors, you name it! This opportunity led me to work directly with Vanguard’s account. A year later, I was hired by the Vanguard family.
VG: How long have you been with Vanguard?
Claudia: I have been with Vanguard for fifteen years and going on my sixteenth anniversary. Wow, time flies. I was originally hired to work in the import department, and have moved around a bit since, diving into the operations and documentation side of the business to now reaching my role as the Manager of this work team. I have seen how both Vanguard and the industry have changed over the years, and how quickly we can pivot to tackle everyday challenges. Between early declaration to US Customs and carriers, to VGMs and tariffs, we are always shifting strategy! Although it is a challenge, we embrace it and make it part of our routine.
VG: What has been a memorable moment for you during your time working for Vanguard?
Claudia: There are multiple events that have marked the time I have been at Vanguard, but the one that comes first to my mind is the time we returned from a trip to Peru, and Craig [CEO of Vanguard] asked me: “So what do you think?” The first thing that came out of my mouth was: “WOW, I can’t believe what is progressing in my country!” I was very happy to see Peru growing economically, using advanced technology, and promoting social benefits. After growing up and going to farms at least twice a month, I could see how the farms and people had changed for the better. Seeing women working at packhouses, getting to know other inspiring women in the business – it was eye opening! There is still more to do in our industry, but this in itself is huge progress and allowed me to feel immense pride for what Vanguard is doing in Peru.
VG: Whose day do you impact on a regular basis? Who hears from you the most?
Claudia: As a manager, I work very closely with our team and the rest of our entire company. Each and every one of them are very experienced, and we are always looking for ways to improve our processes to be more efficient collectively. This goes for my peers in our international offices as well, including China, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Africa, Chile, and Peru. It is incredibly rewarding to help our Vanguard peers out to meet our growers’ and customers’ needs, and know that our input does make a difference. However, what serves as most rewarding is doing this for our growers and customers. If we are able to go the extra mile for our growers and our customers and create results that impact product procurement, sales, quality, and service, we are winning. Our customers hear from us daily, and acknowledging the positive impact we have on their operations is the best appreciation we feel.
VG: What does your free time look like?
Claudia: Definitely family first. But whenever I have time, I enjoy getting together with friends, and of course DANCING. Music revitalizes me and brings a smile to my face second to none! I also enjoy biking and hiking. Although, I have a 7-year-old daugther, so you can imagine how my schedule gets busy around her activities as well!
VG: Do you have a favorite produce item? If so, how do you prefer to eat it?
Claudia: I love fruit, and it isn’t because I work in the industry. I have always loved fruit. I eat fruit for breakfast and whenever I need a snack. My favorites are in the citrus category such as Cara Cara oranges and any type of mandarins and minneolas. I also miss the tropical fruits I grew up with in Peru. However, I have a recipe with lemon zest that is truly delightful! I’ll leave it below for you to try and enjoy!
SHRIMP WITH BASIL AND AVOCADO
Ingredients for shrimp
1 kg of shrimp (biggest possible)
50 grams of fresh cut basil
2 peeled garlic cloves, finely cut
1 spoons of lemon zest
Remove the tails from the shrimp. In a big bowl, mix with the shrimp with the basil, garlic and zest for 3 hours. Cook the shrimp on a barbeque only until they are seared. Both sides. Don’t over cook. Serve the shrimp with the puree.
Ingredients for salad
2 avocados cut in squares
2 tomatoes without seeds cut
1 small red onion, cut in small squares
2 spoons of cumin
2 spoons of fresh cut basil
2 red peppers finely cut (optional)
Mix all these ingredients, and a dash salt if you wish.