By: Angelyn Pinter, Senior Manager, Education, FMI
This past year and a half brought differences in all aspects of life, including education. But these differences have brought opportunities to become stronger. Our summer intern had his college curriculum go virtual, and there are benefits to this model that remain true. For example, he shared how virtual learning rebuilt his work ethic, and established connections between peers. FMI’s Future Leaders eXperience has used this different environment to our advantage and we continue to improve our virtual playing field.
Creating New Connections Through Coaching
Our student success is driven by communication. For 2021, students built their coaching conversation skills with our new coaching program. Certificate recipients from the 2020 program, proficient in coaching communication, taught new participants in groups, providing educational resources and advice. The twist is that our coaches might be in a different role, or company than our students. I see this as a valuable advantage, because it gives participants a neutral ear to discuss their development or to seek advice on their coaching conversations. Our coaches are inspiring participant improvement and one shared how valuable his experience was:
“My ability to coach and to celebrate with my team has noticeably grown. I have already seen improvement in my team’s behavior and I have this program to thank for it.” - Future Leaders coach, and participant from Hy-Vee
A Sustainable Virtual Education
A goal of the virtual Future Leaders eXperience is to reinforce program concepts. In our three-month course period, students learn two concepts at a time, bi-weekly. To ensure skill reinforcement, challenges and group discussions are placed in between sessions. Because our students are continuously practicing and applying concepts, connecting with their groups, I believe our virtual program provides a high-quality experience. A past participant describes how her Future Leaders eXperience improved her work.
“I value my team more now and make them my top priority as well as people around me. My relationship with my team has improved, I listen to them more and communicate well with them. This has really helped in improving our productivity.” – Jennifer Eyiram, Future Leaders Participant and SPAR Ghana employee
The Impactful Certificate Program
Everyone loves certificates. For the Future Leaders program, our participants have the opportunity to earn one. The Food Retail Leadership Certificate Program has become intrinsic to participant success. While voluntary, the program is available to all participants who complete Future Leaders. Participants complete a series of leadership development activities, expanding their skillset beyond the Future Leaders live sessions. Since the certificate’s inception, over 500 members have completed the program, and are recognized as experienced professionals who have leaped towards a successful food industry career.
Our Future Leaders participants have done more than just boost their resumes. They made the virtual learning environment their playground to thrive as team members, invested in their skillset growth, and paved the way for our virtual program’s success.