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Mentors in the Making: Monique Bienvenue

When Monique Bienvenue hears “You’ll never be able to do that,” she picks up and starts running to the finish line—literally. The 26-year-old Director of Communications for Bee Sweet Citrus loves a challenge, whether it be training to compete in the Boston Marathon or spearheading the revamp of a digital marketing campaign.

Monique’s start in the fresh produce industry was peppered with the type of adversity she thrives on. She is from the big city of Los Angeles and didn’t grow up in an ag community, making her a still-rare inductee to the produce industry. But her passion for health and fresh food drove her to join Fresno State’s ag communications program without the foundation enjoyed by so many of her peers.

Monique returns to Fresno State for a career fair, an opportunity she always looks forward to

Since then, it’s been all about challenging herself to come up with new and innovative ways to increase consumption of fresh produce and looking to those who paved the course for her as inspiration. When I ask Monique to reflect on the people who were responsible for raising the bar for her throughout her career, she can easily name so many. Three that pique my interest are Megan Jacobsen, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Gills Onions; Jill Deering, Co-Founder of running apparel brand rabbit; and Joe Berberian, Sales Manager alongside Monique at Bee Sweet Citrus.

Monique went to Fresno State on a mission to close the knowledge gap between those who grew up far removed from the agriculture industry like she did and the farmers who make fresh fruits and vegetables possible. Along that ride, Monique found a partner in her love for ag and a fellow PR student who could pass the baton as she ran toward a degree.

“Megan has been my mentor since my days at Fresno State! She is a few years older than me, and I did my best to follow in her footsteps on campus,” Monique reflects, looking back at her days before fresh produce knowledge became second nature. “From the classes she took, to the organizations she was involved with, Megan helped pave the road for my success. Her vast knowledge in all matters PR-related has helped me navigate the waters fresh out of college, and she remains a close friend of mine today.”

The 26-year-old Director of Communications for Bee Sweet Citrus loves a challenge, whether it be training to compete in the Boston Marathon or spearheading the revamp of a digital marketing campaign.

But when Monique isn’t in the boardroom advocating for food literacy and increased produce consumption, she’s hitting the pavement, putting her feet where her mouth is. Not just focused on preaching the gospel of healthy living, Monique actually puts her body through the test of training for mega marathons and beating personal records to be the best runner she can be. The person who helps her translate the lessons she learns on the course into ones she can use in her career is Jill.

“Although she doesn’t work in the produce industry, Jill has been a tremendous influence in my life. A mom, attorney, coach, and Co-Founder of California’s hottest running apparel brand rabbit, Jill is the definition of a powerhouse,” Monique gushes about her friend and mentor. “As my coach, she has helped me to qualify for the Boston Marathon twice, and her tenacious, yet kind, spirit has inspired me to dream the impossible.”

As an entrepreneur, Jill is constantly making strategic decisions inside and outside of the office. Monique says that running over 60 miles per week is no easy feat, and learning how to balance her passion, her personal life, and her work from Jill has been instrumental to her professional growth.

Monique with with coach and mentor Jill Deering after her first marathon in February, 2017. Since then she has helped Monique to qualify for the Boston Marathon twice

Now, in her role as Bee Sweet’s Director of Communications, she is tasked with positioning the brand identity of a major category in California’s ag scene: citrus. Monique, with the help of her team leader Joe Berberian, spearheaded a major digital campaign and company-wide rebrand, bringing Bee Sweet into a modern age of produce marketing for the first time since its inception.

“Joe has been my direct supervisor over the past two years and has been instrumental to my growth at Bee Sweet Citrus,” Monique tells me. “His knowledge of the company goes beyond the sales desk, and he has been extremely receptive to all of my thoughts and ideas regarding marketing and communications. Being that Bee Sweet Citrus hasn’t had a communications department in the past, his insight and collaboration has been so helpful! He knows exactly what Bee Sweet needs to succeed, and he has been instrumental in helping me make strategic marketing decisions for specific audiences.”

Already a Director of Communications less than four years out of college, Monique has clearly hit the ground running both in and out of the office. But don’t take my word for it. Here is the inside scoop from those who passed her the torch...

 

Megan Jacobsen, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Gills OnionsExceptional. Talented. Motivated. Unique. The list of words that can be used to describe my friend and industry colleague can go on. I’ve had the privilege of having a front-row seat in watching Monique grow into a tremendous advocate for the agriculture industry since her time as a student at Fresno State. From the day we met, her energy was, and remains, contagious! She is thoughtful in everything she does and attacks every project—small or large—with attention to detail, thoroughness, and good humor.

Monique is a reminder to our industry that you don’t have to be born and raised on a farm to advocate and speak truth about agriculture. This sassy and sweet Southern California city girl has a passion for food and health, and it shows through her work, not only at Bee Sweet Citrus, but through her volunteer efforts with multiple agriculture-based organizations.

As her mentor, the most rewarding part has been to now work side-by-side with her in the fresh produce industry as peers, discussing the latest trends and sharing stories to help each other grow.

Jill Deering, Co-Founder, rabbitPassion. It’s a characteristic that’s so simple, and yet few people truly pursue careers and personal endeavors that they feel passionate about.

Now, meet Monique. Monique embodies the word passion. From a simple email correspondence or a huge project presentation, to training and racing road races in her personal time, Monique is remarkably passionate about nearly every aspect of her life. She is driven, extremely hard working, and strives for perfection—and not in that lofty, unattainable kind of way, but in being the best Monique she can be, the most perfect representation of herself.

Monique is also a dreamer. She is a lady with gigantic dreams, and she is not scared to chase those dreams down, literally. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Monique in many different facets: in a professional capacity as she has helped my company with marketing and PR matters and in a coaching relationship as I coach her in her distance running career. Throughout both of these pursuits, we have become remarkable friends. From the moment I met Monique, I knew she was special, but she still continues to amaze and impress me, and I know that her greatest moments are still yet to come.

Joe Berberian, Sales Manager, Bee Sweet CitrusMonique joined our team as a PR intern right after college, and she did such a great job that we hired her on our permanent team. When Monique started, we were a quiet company. We had no social media presence, we never went to trade shows—but when she began to help us grow our PR presence, we really hit the ground running. She has an excellent talent for being able to take everything she has learned and worked on for the PR side and connect it to what we do in sales—broadcasting our strengths and organically bringing us to the next level.

What I always try to tell her is to look beyond local and beyond what you do every day to try to understand the business nationally. When you indulge yourself in the packinghouse, the production, and know what we are really doing from farm to fork, you can be so much more effective at your job. She has grown so much during her time with us at Bee Sweet, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.