Energetic, passionate, and deeply invested in the progress and impact of fresh produce, Marianne Santo is one industry member many up-and-comers, as well as veterans, look to for guidance, support, and insights in the fruit and veg space. An industry like ours requires she remain nimble, resilient, and present, and the Senior Category Manager of Produce and Floral exudes these qualities in her work and her relationships. With such spark and drive, we quickly identified Marianne as a candidate for our IF List feature and hope you are as thrilled and intrigued by her answers as we were. Expect the unexpected from this 30-plus-year produce aficionado and buy-side maven. We did. And more than impressed, we were...
IF you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Gather up all of the strong women you can of every age, personally and professionally. Together, you can rule the world!
IF you could make everyone watch a movie of your choosing, which movie would you want them to see?
Hidden Figures. I never get tired of watching that. It’s an amazing story of perseverance and achievement.
IF you could be a character in any book, who would you be?
Brave and independent Jo March from Little Women. I read that book when I was in fourth grade (voracious reader very early on) and like to think that was the seedling for me to break norms.
IF you could imagine yourself in a different industry, what would it be?
In the medical field. I’d love to have been a surgeon—I’m not squeamish at all!
IF you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Herman Fadem. He was 76 when I started with Wakefern in 1985. I would treasure one more hour with him to hear his amazing stories and bask in the generosity of his teachings. He passed away at 93 and worked up until six months before he died.
IF you had to wear the same thing every day, what items of clothing would you pick?
Black-tie formal wear at all times. I’m tired of the beyond-casual climate of last year!
IF you had to eat the same thing every day for the rest of your days, what would you eat?
Cheese. Hands down.
IF you could enhance one aspect of your intelligence, what part would you want to improve?
Math. It’s my Achilles’ heel.
IF you could reexperience an awesome day in your life, what would you choose and why?
July 22, 2017, in Dublin, Ireland, seeing U2 with my favorite concert buddy, my sister Eileen. That was quite a bucket list check-off.
IF you had $10 million that you had to donate to someone else, who would you choose and why?
God’s Love We Deliver in New York City. They provide meals and care for those who are homebound with HIV, MS, and other illnesses.
IF you had to choose one song to be the soundtrack of your summer season, what would it be?
I’m Still Standing by Elton John.