By: Amanda Bond-Thorley, Director, Education, Food Marketing Institute 

Retail Certificate

It’s been almost a year since FMI launched its inaugural Food Retail Leader Certificate. Having been deeply involved in its development, I recently set out to learn the impact that the certificate program has had on the participants who earned it in 2018. 

The Food Retail Leader Certificate is the culmination of a series of on-and offline activities that form the learning sustainment plan offered to participants of the Future Leaders Program, which is offered as a live event (Future Leaders eXperience) or company-sponsored program (Future Leaders Direct). The program is based around the Root’s Compass® leadership framework, developed by Root, Inc. and in conjunction with FMI. 

The certificate demonstrates that earners have the right food retail industry knowledge, skills, personal attributes and competencies to excel at leadership positions in the food retail industry. It brings participants recognition in the food retail industry as qualified and committed food retail leaders and provides an edge in their professional career path.

I’m thrilled that our expectations of the completion rate in this inaugural year was surpassed, with 93 retail professionals, representing 18 different retailers and CPG companies, earning the certificate. I spoke to a number of these dedicated individuals to gain some perspective on what they had learned and how the program impacted them. 

The Future Leaders program requires a financial and time commitment from both the employer and employee. Participants certainly seemed to appreciate the investment from their companies.

Rodney Clayton, specialist, retail operations support at SpartanNash commented, “It has been a very valuable experience, and I am glad that my employer has made the investment in me.”

Jeremy Latimer, district manager, Weis Markets agreed and commented, “I am extremely grateful for having been given this opportunity. This will be an experience I will never forget and my organization as well as my personal development has benefitted greatly from the experience.”

I wondered if the time commitment would be a barrier to employees in their busy lives, but by offering on demand seminars spaced out over three months and an easy to use e-learning portal that is accessible 24/7, this didn’t seem to be the case.

Scott Kaverman, category manager - salty snacks, cookies, crackers, & misc. snacks, Schnuck Markets, Inc. commented, “I felt that program overall was very well structured and provided some great leadership principles. The timing and pace were more than adequate to accommodate it into our busy work schedules.” 

An opinion that was also shared by Catie Bieler, customer sales lead, immediate consumption, Campbell Soup Company  commented, “Great pace and very intuitive if you are unable to make the scheduled sessions.”  

The value of the certificate program to those who completed it was clear to see. Christine Caratura, human resources, ShopRite of Lawnside shared her perspective on the program’s impact by telling me, “This program was amazing, and I would do it all over again if I could! It brought me out of my shell even more and I learned a lot about managing. This helped me learn a lot about the way a business is run and encouraged me to use my newly learned skills in my day to day work.” 

Lakeisha Hall, traffic manager, Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. added, ‘’I took away so many leadership behaviors that I have been able to apply to my team. I feel as if this process has helped me grow professionally as well as personally.”

We’re very proud of the accomplishment of the 93 food industry professionals who earned the certificate in 2018. Given the value of the Future Leaders Program and the Food Retail Leader Certificate, and our expansion into company-sponsored internal training programs (Future Leaders Direct), we expect even more food industry professionals to complete the certificate in 2019. Our current goal is a 50% certificate completion rate following the 2019 Future Leaders eXperience in St. Louis. 

Being part of the development of Food Retail Leader Certificate and seeing it come to fruition has been an interesting challenge and learning about the impact it has had on the professional and personal lives of those who completed it is very rewarding. I’m looking forward to welcoming the next cohort of food retail professionals to the program. 

FMI Future Leaders