Produce Industry’s Future Leaders Summit

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Improving your business in the produce industry requires a focus on its most important asset people. That will be a priority at the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition October 14-17, 2011, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

PMA’s Foundation for Industry Talent will provide several opportunities for companies to engage their employees and help fulfill the goal to develop leaders throughout the global supply chain, while attracting bright talent and nurturing the industry leaders of tomorrow.  As the industry becomes more complex, the need for opportunities for employers to locate talent and grow their leadership skills is critical for future success.

A new generation of produce professionals from across the supply chain already has been at work developing a passion for and commitment to the industry and to PMA. These hand-selected rising stars have been involved in the foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program and will graduate from the program at the Young Professionals Reception on Friday, October 14, from 5-6 p.m. The invitation-only reception is for produce professionals under 35 years old and is designed to help up-and-comers make new industry connections and build their network of peers. To receive an invitation to the Young Professionals Reception, contact Barbara Hochman at +1 (302) 607-2189 or via email at bhochman@pmafit.com.

Those graduating from the Emerging Leaders Program will also be recognized at the General Session on Friday.

“We’re strategically encouraging and developing the next generation to lead this industry, so these programs are serious development opportunities based on the competencies needed to be successful in the industry,” said Margi Prueitt, executive director of the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent. “Other segments of the agriculture industry are seeing worker attrition. We can’t and won’t let that happen to the fresh produce industry.”

The invitation-only Fresh Perspective: Women’s Leadership Event is a networking and learning event dedicated to the development and advancement of women in the fresh produce industry. Participants build their network of contacts by connecting with and learning from other women industry leaders around the world. Space for this event is limited to the first 250 registrants, and will be held Friday, October 14, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The event is designed for industry newcomers and veterans alike. The program will feature Susan O’Malley, former president of the Washington Sports and Entertainment and first female president in the NBA with the Washington Wizards.  Ms. O’Malley will discuss the struggles and triumphs of life and work and present the seven rules of management and leadership that have made her a trailblazer in the worlds of business and sports. Fresh Perspective sponsors are Bonipak Produce, C. H. Robinson Company Worldwide, Fisher Capespan, Gills Onions, LLC, Mann Packing Co., and Monsanto. To receive an invitation, email FreshPerspectives@pma.com.

The Career Pathways program draws and engages students in the fresh produce industry by underwriting their attendance at Fresh Summit. In Atlanta, these students will be given an industry orientation and then assigned an industry mentor who will help them network and learn more about the produce industry. Some 50 percent of Career Pathways program participants who have since graduated have taken jobs in the produce industry. Sponsored by the Jay and Ruthie Pack Family Foundation and reception sponsor Earthbound Farm, the program will usher 42 students and 13 faculty members from 13 universities through a rigorous program to orient them to the fresh produce industry.

The third-annual Fresh Summit Foundation 5K Race for Talent promises to be a fun way to help support the foundation’s programming—with plenty of networking built in. It will be held October 14 at Centennial Olympic Park. New this year, awards will be given for Best Team Spirit, Largest Team to Register and Best Team Attire. Participants don’t have to be registered for Fresh Summit, so co-workers, family and friends are welcomed and encouraged to participate. Additionally, medals will be given to the top male and female finishers, as well as the top three winners in each age group. Following the event, participants will enjoy a continental breakfast.

“Running or walking this 3.1-mile course provides a great opportunity for camaraderie, fun and exercise—all with an industry-building purpose,” added Prueitt. “Many companies within the industry have seen the value of this event and have signed up as sponsors, which allow us to offer prizes as well as support the development and execution of the foundation’s plans and programs.” Race details and a list of sponsors can be found at www.pmafit.com/support/events_FIT5K_Atlanta.aspx.

Register soon for Fresh Summit as the last day for advance registration is September 30. Note that PMA members as well as retailers and foodservice operators receive registration-fee discounts. If you’re not a member, join now to take advantage of member discounts.

Those interested in volunteer opportunities with the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent can contact Alicia Calhoun at +1 (302) 607-2157 or via email at acalhoun@pmafit.com.  For more information please visit http://www.pmafit.com/getinvolved .