Driving Leadership; Evelyn Ingram


Dive into the inspiring world of Evelyn Ingram, Wegmans’ own community advocate, as she shares her journey from a pastor’s daughter to a powerhouse in corporate America. Uncover the secrets of her leadership style, her dedication to community engagement, and her passion for fashion. Join us as we explore the aisles of Wegmans and the corridors of Evelyn’s career in this must-listen episode of Driving Leadership.


Prefer to read the transcript? *Note: The following text is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors



Evelyn Ingram is the Syracuse area’s community advocate

Bill Berthel: Welcome to another episode of driving leadership. Today’s episode, we’re going to stay in from the rain, and instead of getting in the car, we’re going to have a conversation at Wegman’s grocery store with Wegman’s own Evelyn Ingram. Evelyn is the Syracuse area’s community advocate. She’s a dynamic woman, and I just can’t wait for this conversation. Come on. Evelyn, thank you so much for this afternoon. I really appreciate this very much.

Evelyn Ingram: No problem.

Bill Berthel: And I know we’re going to get a chance to have a great conversation here for, a few minutes. I cannot think of Wegmans without thinking of you. I really can’t. I really can’t. Seriously, I really can’t. But I know you didn’t start here.

Evelyn Ingram: Yeah, I didn’t start out like, oh. I want to be a leader when I grow up.

Evelyn Ingram: It was just like, that’s just what happened. I felt like there was a need, and I would be willing to help fill that void. So that kind of is what led me into this. My dad was a pastor. He was a pastor of a church.

Bill Berthel: Yeah.

Evelyn Ingram: And that I’m, PK preaches kids, and I don’t know if you’ve heard that we always get rushed into things to do it. If other members won’t do it, then the kids would.

Bill Berthel: You got volun-told.

Evelyn Ingram: We got volun-told to do it. So I think even from that perspective, I’ve always just been one to do my dad. I recall, I think I was maybe, like, 12-13 years old. I remember him calling me in front of the church, literally.

Evelyn Ingram: In the church building, we’re having a service, and he wanted me to recite the 66 books of the Bible.

Bill Berthel: Oh, my goodness. Okay.

Evelyn Ingram: And know them in order. And I still know them in order.

Bill Berthel: Okay.

Evelyn Ingram: And it was like because he wanted to show the members that I can do that. Some of the older members didn’t know.

Bill Berthel: That even a young person can.

Evelyn Ingram: Even a young person could do it. So I’m little. I’m, like, 12-13 years old, and I’m sitting in front of. Front of church Genesis, literally going through all books of the Bible. That’s always been me. I mean, just willing to jump in, willing to do it, willing to kind of take the lead when necessary. And I’m not stuck on being the leader, but I’m stuck on getting it done. and I feel like,

Bill Berthel: That’s a great differentiation.

Bill Berthel: Tell me more about that.

Evelyn Ingram: I mean, it’s like, I don’t have to be in charge but I want it to get done. And if I feel I have the skills to do it, I’m willing to do it. But if somebody else wants to step up and do it, I always feel like I can be a leader, but I also can be a good follower.

Bill Berthel: Tell me how you either cultivated that in yourself or how you stepped into that space, because I’m not sure every leader does that. So how do you give yourself permission to step back or hand it off really well, what do you do?

Evelyn Ingram: Well, I have to say, I’m not always good at handing it off.

Bill Berthel: All right, good.

Evelyn Ingram: I’ll be honest with that. because I feel like I want it to be done a certain way, and if I don’t have confidence in the team to execute it that way, I’m probably going. I’m still stay attached. But I think from a perspective of if there’s something that has to be done just in general, and if there’s no one who’s willing to do it, and if there’s something I feel I have the expertise to do it, I’m willing to step up and do it. But in that same space, if there’s somebody else who has the expertise to do it and is willing to do.

Bill Berthel: It, you’re not going to get in their way.

Evelyn Ingram: I’m not going to get in their way, and I will support them and do whatever I can to help.

So tell me a little bit more about your path to Syracuse

Bill Berthel: So tell me a little bit more about your path. So you came to Syracuse for school?

Evelyn Ingram: Yep. Came to Syracuse for school.

Bill Berthel: And you stayed.

Evelyn Ingram: I stayed.

Bill Berthel: Yeah.

Evelyn Ingram: I’ve been here. Actually, now I’ve been in Syracuse longer than I was in Rhode Island.

Bill Berthel: This feels like home.

Evelyn Ingram: It’s definitely down home. This is home for me now. I mean, literally, after being here, my husband’s here, my family’s here, son is here. So I have to say I was resistant initially because coming up here for college, your mentality is, I’m going to come here, I’m going to get my degree, and I’m leaving.

Bill Berthel: It’s temporary.

Evelyn Ingram: It’s temporary. I never came here with the intention of staying at all. And it’s cold up here. Oh, my God. So I never, ever planned to stay, but why did I stay? I stayed because I ended up getting a job at Carrier Corporation. At the time, Carrier was like one of the companies in the area,  I mean booming big time. You get a job at Carrier you’re in there. So what it was for me was that I was able to, get my own apartment and get my car.

Bill Berthel: Independence.

Evelyn Ingram: Independence.

Bill Berthel: Freedom.

Evelyn Ingram: Freedom. And I still was able to have some financial freedom as well. My friends in New York City, not, yet. They were living at home. They were making less a year than we were paying for tuition. So it was a good deal. It was a good deal, and I leveraged that, and it worked for me. So I worked for Carrier corporation ten years. That was an invaluable corporate experience for me because it provided my foundation. I think my business acumen I gained from Carrier corporation because it was a very traditional, I would say, strict corporate environment. So there were certain things you learned kind of the political process, how to maneuver through me, different arenas. So, literally am very… that was a valuable experience for me.

Bill Berthel: And a place to develop a good…

Evelyn Ingram: Place to develop that, and I’m glad I started there. So then was there for ten years. Left there, went to Bristol Myers Squibb literally right up the street. Less than a mile. And I used to pass Bristol every day. Never paid any attention. literally, I mean, just the building. Just the building over there, whatever, I would drive. So literally right up the street. Got hired in Bristol Myers Squibb. And that was a great experience for me, too, because it opened up, another industry. Because the pharmaceutical business is very fast-paced Carrier. It wasn’t was it fast-paced, but it was more. For example, manufacturing an air conditioning unit, that’s a whole process that takes a long time. And pharmaceutical, it takes a long time too. But once it gets to market, it’s quick. I mean, it’s fast. So it was kind of learning then. I’m dealing more with scientists at Bristol Myers Squibb. So kind of just having that experience.

Bill Berthel: Sure.

Evelyn Ingram: was very invaluable. And then I ended up getting recruited to Wegmans and been at Wegmans 16 years. Never thought I would work for a supermarket. Was again resistant initially, I got a call from a recruiter about this position because what happened at Bristol, I would get calls from recruiters. It was like every day. That was just kind of a market where. And I was in human resources at the time.

Bill Berthel: Okay.

Evelyn Ingram: So pretty much it was like, I got, I mean, I didn’t even respond to 90% I happened to respond to this call from the recruiter who had a position at Wegmans. And at the time when they talked to me, I didn’t know the company. They would just tell me about the position. I’m like, okay. When they told me Wegmans I was like, a shop. Like, it’s a great supermarket. I want to work for those supermarkets. I was like because I didn’t see it as a company. One thing I will say, though, that when I got hired, because typically, Wegmans does most of our hiring internally, pretty much. You kind of grow up through the ranks. You know. And they don’t normally hire a lot. A lot of internal growth externally, particularly at the level that I came, where you don’t normally hire externally. So I’ll never forget that, because I kind of grew up in Wegmans. They wanted to give me the experience of working in the stores. So for a whole year, I worked in the stores.

Bill Berthel: Did you?

Evelyn Ingram: And when I made in the stores, I mean, I worked in the bakery department.

Bill Berthel: Yeah.

Evelyn Ingram: I worked in the pizza department. I worked in seafood. I rotated through every department for weeks. It wasn’t like just one day… for the whole year.

Bill Berthel: That had to be invaluable.

Evelyn Ingram: It was invaluable.

Evelyn Ingram is a community advocate for Wegmans

Now, I will say I laugh sometimes. I’m like, now, had I really understood this when I accepted the job, I may have said, I don’t know, but after going through it, because. And at the time, I was hired for, ah, HR human resources.

Bill Berthel: Okay.

Evelyn Ingram: So that really was helping me to see the employees behind the scenes.

Bill Berthel: Right.

Evelyn Ingram: The things that they have to go through, the work that they go through.

Bill Berthel: And how the organization works.

Evelyn Ingram: How the organization works. So, literally, I loved it. And that actually is what kind of gave me the foundation here at Wegmans. So now, in this role, I literally kind of understand the business from the inside. And even though I’m promoting the company externally to the community, I still really have that inside knowledge of how we do things, why we do what we do. And I even say, like, sometimes I’ll laugh and say, I feel like I work harder now than I’ve ever worked in my life because I feel like I’m part of the company. I feel like my last name is Wegman. that’s cool. But it’s hard to achieve that. I mean, that’s something that at other companies I work for. I didn’t have that feeling. But here, just the way the culture is, I literally feel like I want to do everything I can to make sure this company is successful. So whatever Evelyn England can do to make that happen, I’m willing to do, because I feel a part of it.

Bill Berthel: So when I google your name.

Evelyn Ingram: Okay.

Bill Berthel: And I love. I don’t want to get this wrong.

Evelyn Ingram: Oh, my goodness.

Bill Berthel: On the Wegmans page, okay, it says, meet, Evelyn Ingram. What does it say?

Evelyn Ingram: Fashionista.

Bill Berthel: Fashionista. And Syracuse community advocate.

Bill Berthel: I love that.

Bill Berthel: Fashionista is the first part of your title.

Evelyn Ingram: Yeah. And it’s funny. I don’t want to slip around resistant. But they want to do that story. I was like, why not?

Bill Berthel: It’s a great story.

Evelyn Ingram: I do like fashion, I have to say. I admit it.

Bill Berthel: And you’re beautiful.

Evelyn Ingram: Thank you. That’s a part of me. I feel like when I look better, I work better, and I love it. My father instilled this. I have two sisters. He wanted us to represent ourselves well as women. So the way we present ourselves, the way we look, the way I absolutely dress, that was just his thing with his daughters.

Bill Berthel: Absolutely.

Evelyn Ingram: And it’s just kind of worked for me, because now part of my role is I can get a call from a television station. Sure, in a minute and say, we need you. We want to interview you about XYZ.

Bill Berthel: You’re ready.

Evelyn Ingram: I got to be ready. And I can’t be like, oh, wait, let me go do my hair. Wait, let me change my clothes. So I come to work dressed as if I’m going to get a call. But because I love fashion, it’s easy.

Bill Berthel: That’s authentically you too. What do you do day in, day out?

Evelyn Ingram: It’s a very fulfilling role. I’ll say that because at the end of the day, I’m helping organizations help people. I’m not going to say every organization, but 90% of the organizations in this area, Wegmans has supported in one way. We really try to make sure that we are, and I try to make sure that we are representing all culture veterans. Literally. That’s part of what I do, to make sure that there’s no group of people that can say that Wegmans is not supporting them.

So, Evelyn, what advice would you share with your listeners

Bill Berthel: So, Evelyn, I, often frame the advice piece of my show this way, that our listeners would love some advice. I’m really being selfish. I like the advice, too. So, from a leadership perspective, what would you share with our listeners? What would you share with me? from an advice perspective?

Evelyn Ingram: Okay.

Evelyn Ingram: Well, it’s funny, I think about things that have happened to me over my life, from a career perspective and from a decision perspective. And I talk to a lot of young people, and some of the things that I normally share with them is be flexible.

Bill Berthel: Ah.

Evelyn Ingram: Sometimes we have this in our mind to be set. Like, even how I shared about Wegmans I’m like, oh, I don’t go for a supermarket. Had I not taken this job, look what I would have missed out.

Bill Berthel: Absolutely.

Evelyn Ingram: And I think sometimes people, we put pressure on ourselves that we have to do things in a certain timing. We have to do things a certain way,

Bill Berthel: should unfold a certain way.

Evelyn Ingram: So just be open, be flexible. And I think oftentimes we’re not because we’re scared and we think we’re not going to be successful if we don’t follow this prescribed act. So I would just say, be flexible, be open, because you never know. Don’t be so silly. And I think I have to say, now you give me in my Carrier days. Now, I was Miss  business suit, briefcase, serious, getting out of college. But now I’m realizing that I’m confident in who I am. I’m confident in my skills. It’s not that deep, right? Just enjoy. Just let down, let loose. Not that you don’t be professional, not that you don’t recognize that but it’s like, don’t be so serious and just feel like everything just has to be. And I think that’s what’s helped me to just realize that, you know, what? I’m accomplished. and I’m confident about who I am. and I don’t have to prove it.

Bill Berthel: I don’t think you all are in the grocery business. I think you’re in the relationship business.

Evelyn Ingram: Yeah, I agree.

Bill Berthel: You just happen to do grocery and you’re in the relationship business.

Evelyn Ingram: You’re right. Exactly.

Evelyn purchased a church on the south side of Syracuse

Bill Berthel: So, Evelyn, I know you have a little project going on. You and I think your husband purchased a piece of property.

Evelyn Ingram: We did.

Bill Berthel: You call it the castle.

Evelyn Ingram: We call it the castle.

Bill Berthel: Tell me about it.

Evelyn Ingram: And I thought it was going to be little, but what is it between the building itself being huge, over 30,000 square feet and the project itself being huge. But what it is, is that we purchased a church on the south side of Syracuse.

Bill Berthel: Okay.

Evelyn Ingram: It was a Presbyterian church.

Bill Berthel: Okay.

Evelyn Ingram: And we’ve actually renamed it The Castle because it looks like a castle.

Bill Berthel: Is it stone? I don’t know the building.

Evelyn Ingram: It’s stone. It’s like the corner of South Salina and South Calvin. South Salina, Calvin Street, which is literally the heart of the south side.

Bill Berthel: Okay.

Evelyn Ingram: So, my husband grew up in that area.

Bill Berthel: Yeah.

Evelyn Ingram: So this is our give back to the community project. But it’s huge. So it’s historic. It’s actually on the New York State Registry of Historic Places.

Bill Berthel: Oh, fantastic.

Evelyn Ingram: So it literally is a historic location. And we’re renovating into event space for wedding receptions, conferences, galas, plays all that kind of stuff.

Bill Berthel: Awesome.

Evelyn Ingram: A lounge. So afterward you can come have drinks, appetizers, live entertainment.

Bill Berthel: No kidding.

Evelyn Ingram: Yeah. And then a training and development center. So, it’s pretty much three entities in one.

Bill Berthel: Evelyn, I’m never going to be in a Wegman’s the same again. This is awesome. This is so awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Leave a Comment