The Women's Fresh Perspectives Conference Puts Spotlight on Women in the Industry
- by Maggie Mead
SAN ANTONIO, TX - With so many industries dominated by men, women and the unique issues they face can all too often fall by the wayside. But the produce industry is lucky enough to have a strong group of women ready to address the needs and issues of other women in the business. The Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference (WFPC), is created by women for women to acknowledge the strengths and expertise the female side of the produce industry brings to the table. Recently, I was lucky enough to speak with Co-Chairs of WFPC's Advisory Committee Leslie Simmons, VP of Dave’s Specialty Imports; and Julie Lucido, CEO of Marketing Plus, about what makes this program so special and why it is important.
“This is a pretty incredible program, and I think it's unparalleled in the industry because there's really nothing else that is created by women, for women, in such an in-depth way that it really digs into the challenges that we face in such a specific manner. I think that it's hard to compare to anything else,” said Julie.
The WFPC prepares attendees to return to their respective organizations empowered and fully engaged. According to the website attendees will learn how to: achieve business results through the use of enhanced strategic skills; use meaningful business relationships to bolster personal and professional performance; strengthen leadership styles to motivate, inspire, and lead high-performing teams; and hone negotiation and communication skills.
Volunteers and contributors drive the agenda in terms of what topics are tackled each year, so the issues addressed remain relevant. Whether you are an executive or new to the industry, there is something for everyone at WFPC.
“We welcome new women who are looking for that kind of education, support, and empowerment, but also women who have been here before. It is a chance to connect and reconnect over critical topics and this year in a brand new location,” said Leslie.
This year's conference, from April 14-16, will be held in San Antonio, TX, a new city for the event, one that is building excitement with conference organizers and attendees alike.
“Being in a space like this, with women only, opens the door to conversations you don't normally have. You have a chance to dig deep on issues that effect you both personally and professionally,” Leslie continued.
And the location isn't all that's new. For the last two years, the conference theme has been “Own It,” but this year sees the debut of a new theme, “I Will.”
“I think that ‘Own It’ was very personal and it was really more responsibility for where you are in your life and career. I Will is the next step forward, the evolution of what we are trying to achieve,” Leslie said about the changing theme.
“Part of "I Will" is the capabilities and building and growth and what you want to be in your business life, but then there's also a personal agenda—how do you balance the specific challenges of being a working woman in a career that is type-A, and yet you have personal dreams and goals, be it children and family or personal fulfillment goals that you have. How do you balance and really complete your own picture?” Julie said about this year's theme.
The conference is unique because it was the first geared towards the fresh produce and floral industries that covers the entire supply chain, offered to women along the entire career continuum. The research-based conference provides a curriculum developed in partnership with business organizations, lending a real-world approach to sessions. The goal is to provide something meaningful for new and returning attendees, offering up a distinctive experience geared towards giving women the tools they need for success in all aspects of their lives.
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