By: Cynthia Brazzel, Director of Member Relations & Advocacy for the Western Region, Food Marketing Institute
Graduation Cap

This week the University of Southern California will graduate the 2016 class of students from the Food Industry Management (FIM) program in the Marshall School of Business. These students represent high potential employees who demonstrate the ability to be executive leaders in food retail.

Students delivered their capstone presentations in March, and two teams were selected to deliver again at the mid-April Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) conference in Honolulu, HI. All of the topics demonstrated the level of innovation and future thinking that is developed among this talent pool. The featured topics at WAFC included The Age of You and Invisible Hands.

The Age of You challenges food retailers to consider the future of data and artificial intelligence and how these innovations will improve the relevance of the customer experience. Retailers will be able to create predictive and personalized shopping experiences for their customers, particularly Generation Z, those born between 1995 and 2010. Consumer data is likened to the “new fuel,” driving this new Industrial Revolution.

The other featured topic, Invisible Hands, introduced in an interactive manner the new engineering breakthroughs in store operations and replenishment through a completely automated receiving and replenishment system at the store. The team points to the success of Amazon as it moves into the food retail category, leveraging its replenishment systems, and the need for traditional retailers to step up to in-store technology to respond to consumers.

These exceptional students graduate today in Los Angeles. The 2016 FIM class is comprised of 36 students representing the following companies: Cub Foods, Pak-N-Save (New Zealand), Nestlé, Unified Grocers, Dean Foods, King Soopers, Myers Group, Safeway, Costco, Food4Less/FoodsCo, Pepsi Beverage Company, Fry’s, Big Saver Foods, California Specialty Farms, Smart-n-Final, Coca-Cola, Mollie Stone’s Markets, Stater Bros., Ralph’s, Niagara Bottling Co., Northgate Market, Fred Meyer, Bimbo Bakeries, King’s Hawaiian, Bristol Farms, Gelson’s, Raley’s, Smith’s Food & Drug, and Natural Market’s Food Group.


  • Technology
  • Retail Operations
  • Education
  • Asset Protection