By: Dagmar Farr, Chief Member Relations Officer and Senior Vice President, Membership and Education, Food Marketing Institute

mg-caption: Jim Frusciante, head of U.S. sales at Kraft Heinz, moderates a panel at Future LeadersNearly 400 attendees joined Future Leaders eXperience last month to bridge the gap between their company’s present and future success with new leadership development. It’s no surprise that food retail’s organizational chart of the future will look different than it does today. The exciting part of this change is hearing the many visions of how this structural chart will evolve. Jim Frusciante, head of U.S. sales at Kraft Heinz and co-chair of Future Leaders eXperience, shared his outlook on leadership, talent, and what it takes to succeed in food retail.  

What does leadership mean in our business?

Frusciante: “This new hierarchy of leadership requires adaptability and a willingness to always continue to learn and improve. Future leaders need to “fail fast” and adjust, make smart decisions quickly, maintain a constant focus on leveraging digital and bridging its benefits to retail, be comfortable with thinner margins, and never, ever lose focus on providing the best service for customers.”

How can we handle change effectively, especially with our talent?

Frusciante: “With the constant change and innovation we experience in our industry daily, the future organizational structure is hard to predict. However, there are foundational elements that will heavily influence future talent and structures in our industry, including an unwavering connection to current consumer preferences, a solid educational background, a balance of experience and entrepreneurship, a data-driven mindset, and a nimble approach.”

“For recruitment and retention specifically, I firmly believe that when it comes to recruiting the best people for our business, we need to be where the best talent is – both physically and digitally. Face-to-face interaction remains critical, but leveraging social and digital media for talent attraction helps us more effectively reach a diverse talent base.”

Why is diversity important to our overall success?

Frusciante: “I have had the privilege of working with people that are different from me in a lot of ways, and recognizing, understanding, and appreciating those differences has been integral to how I lead the U.S. Sales team at Kraft Heinz. Talent diversity is multi-faceted, and I believe we are better and stronger by building a team that is diverse in thought, gender, ethnicity, race, backgrounds, ideas, and more. I also believe in the power of good people skills, so I pay special attention to individuals who have warm and welcoming personalities, but also are competitive and think quickly on their feet. As an industry, I don’t know if we’re truly there yet, but I hope that we’re all consciously making strides to be more diverse and inclusive so that we can be more capable and reflective of our increasingly diverse consumer base.”

For more information on Future Leaders eXperience, visit FMI.org/FutureLeaders

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