Dr. Stephanie Cernicek named Woman of the Year
Best of the Industry 2023 – Woman of the Year
Dr. Stephanie Cernicek serves as Chief Science Officer at Mana Supply, one of Missouri’s most respected cannabis companies, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for MoCann Trade.
In Missouri, Mana is home to recognizable brands like Kosmik, Kizmet, and midose., some of the state’s most successful and well-received brands. Mana has achieved all of this while operating on a fraction of the scale of other companies in the space.
Dr. Cernicek is one of the most respected leaders in Missouri’s cannabis industry and has become an icon for other women in STEM fields.
In recognition of her leadership in the industry and the success of Mana, Greenway readers recognized Dr. Cernicek as Woman of the Year for 2023.
“2022 was quite a year,” she said. “It was my first full year as Chief Science Officer for Mana, and it was a year of rapid growth and development for our business. We’ve built a phenomenal team here in St. Louis and it’s crazy to look back at how far we’ve come in such a short time.”
“The cannabis industry is such an amazing melting pot of people from every corner of society. As we’ve learned from the wave of legalization sweeping the nation, the cannabis market is much more diverse than the stereotypes we grew up seeing on tv, and that’s reflected in the diversity that makes up our industry professionally,” she explained.
Greenway recently spoke to Dr. Cernicek about her part in Missouri’s most successful year for the cannabis industry and what makes a leader.
What do you consider your greatest success or achievement in 2022?
The achievement I’m most proud of in 2022 is the incredible team we’ve put together at Mana. Anything that I could try to take credit for would have been impossible without their hard work, and I’m excited to see how far we can all go together in 2023!
What about Mana differentiates the company from others in Missouri, and generally speaking?
As a smaller company than many of our competitors, we have the advantage of being nimble and responsive. We can get a solution together and a product out the door while some of the larger companies will still be on their fourth zoom call with their dozens of investors, debating whose name goes first on the letterhead.
With the launch of adult use, how does Mana stay competitive as the Missouri market continues to grow?
We’ve had great success with the licensing relationships we’ve cultivated with our nationally recognized partner brands, and we look forward to building on that reputation to bring even more of those in-demand products to customers across Missouri.
Where does your passion for cannabis come from?
My first job in this industry was as a chemist making CBD products for children with intractable epilepsy. Working with these families face to face really taught me a lot about how life-changing these products can be, and the amount of people that now have access to safer, natural options to treat their maladies is inspirational.
What does the legalization of marijuana for adult use mean for you?
Legalization of adult use in Missouri is a big step towards ending the decades-long, wildly destructive War on Drugs that’s plagued our country and put too many regular people in prison. It’s the result of years of hard work from amazing people from a variety of organizations, and I’m proud to have done my part in helping to get this vote across the finish line.
Can you tell me about your community involvement?
I am so proud to work for a company that is so active and involved in cannabis reform at both a federal and state level. Two founders of our company helped to start the National Cannabis Round Table and I serve on the board of MoCannTrade. Through these entities, we have been able to effectuate and promote cannabis reform of outdated cannabis laws and legislation. This can help to create the safe and ethical use of cannabis as well as provide opportunities for members of our community. Additionally, our company deeply engages in our communities through regular social engagement.
Personally, through my role at Mana Supply Co and with my background as a Ph.D. chemist, I have been able to speak frequently on the issues of efficacy and safety of cannabis.
What makes a good leader?
A good leader is someone who can see both the goal at hand and the needs of their team at the same time. It’s easy to get drawn into ego battles and petty acts of superiority, but if you don’t take care of your people, your people will find someone else who will.
How do you define success?
Success is going to sleep at night, proud of what you accomplished with your day. Some days you move mountains, some days only a pebble. But if you can look back and say, “I did that,” then that was a successful day. Really, every day that we are producing and selling products to help Missourians is a successful day.
What advice would you give to others in the cannabis industry?
Educate yourself every chance you can. There are thousands of people who want jobs in this industry whose only experience is, “I smoke a lot.” If you can build a deeper understanding of market trends and speak intelligently about the differences between the myriad products on sale these days, you’ll have a better chance at standing out from the crowd. Consider programs like Saint Louis University’s Cannabis Science Program. This is a program that I am proud to be a part of and to teach for. The program has proven to be successful, we see students in this program go on to get great jobs in the industry.