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PMA Foundation to premier Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference

Women currently represent only 15 percent of senior management roles in all industries despite studies that consistently show significant benefits to companies with women in leadership roles.

To help produce businesses leverage this competitive advantage, the Produce Marketing Association’s Foundation for Industry Talent will debut the Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference April 21-23 at the FireSky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, AZ.

Offered in partnership with Simmons School of Management, a widely recognized authority on women’s leadership and management, this new conference has been customized to develop women’s leadership potential throughout the global produce industry and will make its mark as the only industry-specific development program for women.

“Today, the produce industry recognizes women should and do have a seat at the table in management and in leadership positions; however, there’s still a lot more room to grow,” Tonya Antle, Tanimura & Antle principal and WFP steering committee chair, said in a press release. “This new PMA Foundation program is comprehensive, thoughtful and exciting. No matter what stage of your career path or level in company management or leadership, we all can continue to learn and grow.”

The WFP conference will provide competency-based leadership training backed by research and a PMA-member needs assessment of leadership development for women in produce. Consultant Julie Krivanek, president of Krivanek Consulting, facilitated the process, which included industry research, reviews of existing programs inside and outside the fresh produce industry, research on how women influence business success, and input from attendees of the WFP leadership breakfast at Fresh Summit and networking reception at Foodservice Conference.

“Ninety-two percent of all food purchase decisions are made by a woman,” Ms. Krivanek said in the release. “The smart organizations are creating strategies to understand how to connect with this consumer. The really smart ones have this consumer viewpoint woven into the fabric of their business at the decision-maker level. If we look inside the boardrooms and management teams of the companies in our industry, we would find an almost complete lack of women. That means decisions made to increase consumption, connect to the consumer and attract people to our stellar products are being made without the voice of those most influential.”

Participants will hone cross-functional skills as well as network and learn from peers and business leaders. Speakers familiar with produce industry issues will help attendees learn how to the following:

  • Achieve business results through strategic thinking skills.
  • Amplify leadership strengths to motivate and inspire.
  • Negotiate and communicate effectively to reach goals.
  • Gain insights and actionable tools to enhance their personal brand.
  • Lead high-performing teams.
  • Manage work-life balance.

”I know this conference will help me bring even more value to my company,” said LeighAnne Thomsen, Mission Produce marketing representative and WFP steering committee member. “I’m a more motivated employee each time I return from a WFP planning session or steering committee conference call, and I look forward to returning to work in April after an even more focused and intensive experience at the conference.”

The WFP Conference is backed by the expertise of Simmons School of Management, a leading provider of business education programs designed to inspire, enrich and empower women. Simmons School has repeatedly ranked No. 1 nationally in the category of “Greatest Opportunity for Women” by The Princeton Review guidebook, The Best 296 Business Schools.

“Women today are the most underutilized natural resource we have,” said Ms. Antle. “They bring a fresh perspective, a new and different way of thinking and leadership talents that should be recognized and celebrated.”

The Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference is part of the PMA Foundation “career continuum,” which offers students and industry members a spectrum of programs and networking events to support every stage of a produce career. Men interested in honing skills related to effectively managing women and/or who believe in the benefits of diversity throughout an organization — especially in leadership positions — are also invited to attend.

For more information on speakers and program details, sponsorship opportunities or to register, visit www.pmafoundation.com. Register by March 1 to save; PMA members receive additional discount. Quantity discounts are also available for groups from the same company.