By: Leslie G. Sarasin, President and CEO, Food Marketing Institute
Statesmanship, humanitarianism and entrepreneurialism are qualities we associate with great leaders who help to cultivate corporate purpose. In the food retail industry, these attributes define the type of leader who can advance his or her career from a motivated grocery bagger to the visionary in the corner office. Not all industries offer the caliber of self-evolvement opportunities that is such a vital part of the tradition of the food retail industry. Nor can other industries point to having such a strong culture of empathy as that fostered by food retailers; we employ a diverse workforce, we feed people with the most affordable food in the world, we are community philanthropists, we provide the ingredients that enable family dinner table chatter and the customer comes first – always.
As an association guided by a network of grocery executives, many of whom can relate to an inventory-manager-to-executive-role story, FMI has a vested interest in communicating the attractiveness of this vital industry. As such, we are investing heavily in professional development and leadership as manifested in the rebranded event, Future Leaders eXperience. The new format allows for cross-functional, cross-company and cross-industry interactions that will not only cement long-lasting personal and business relationships, but also will motivate young professionals by encouraging closer relationships; offering opportunities to emphasize peak performance; promoting the diversity of people, skills, career paths and companies; and upholding FMI as an organization that offers strategic insights to understand the customer to better compete. We must nurture the next generation of industry heroes.
Rabb, Albers and Wegman are names synonymous with pioneering, and each year, FMI recognizes industry trailblazers, outstanding food retail professionals and the contributions grocery stores are making every day in their communities. Our first set of 2017 executive award recipients accepted their honors at the Midwinter Executive Conference in January:
- Former Publix Super Markets Inc., CEO and current chairman of the board of directors Ed Crenshaw received FMI’s highest honor, the Rabb Award. Publix has been consistently recognized as one of the top companies to work for 19 consecutive years, and it’s Ed’s remarkable leadership that has nurtured Publix’s reputation for two decades.
- Joe Colalillo, president of ShopRite of Hunterdon County, Inc. and chairman and CEO of Wakefern Food Corp., received FMI’s Wegman Award for exercising entrepreneurial leadership in the design of retail strategies and imaginative merchandising. Joe is a straight talking, honest broker of goods and services and he inspires our industry to maintain its relevance by his keen commitment to doing what is right for the customer.
- FMI honored the Hershey Company by giving two of its industry veterans – J.P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board, and Tom Joyce, retired vice president, global customer and industry affairs – an award celebrating excellence in trading partner relations and consumer and community service, the William H. Albers Award. In food retail circles, the name Hershey Company has become synonymous with trusted partner; the dependable quality of its products being matched by the reliable caliber of its leadership and its steadfast nurture of the retailer relationship.
Hear what it takes to be a grocery trailblazer from the award winners themselves, by visiting FMII’s YouTube channel