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Third Time The Charm For Posey And The FIM Program

Patrick Posey of Bristol Farms
Patrick Posey of Bristol Farms.

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 09:34 am

It took three tries for Patrick Posey to get into the USC FIM Program.

And by the time he did, he had blazed a new trail.

“For me, it wasn’t the school (that was difficult) as much as it was getting into the school because I actually applied for the program three times,” said Posey, who is VP of non-perishable procurement and merchandising for Bristol Farms.

The first time he was pretty sure he wouldn’t get in because he didn’t have the level of position at his company, Ralphs at the time, for him to be chosen.

“But I applied anyway just to get my name in the hat so the executives would see that I wanted to become a Trojan,” Posey said. “I was declined.”

He applied a second time after he had gotten a promotion that qualified him for a spot in the class. He sent in his four-page, typed application, complete with the required essay about himself, and waited for the mail.

“I cracked the letter open, and the letter said, ‘Congratulations, Pat, we’d like to have you down to the main office because out of 100 people, you’re in the top 10.’”

Oral interview would determine who got the available spots.

In the executive boardroom, “they had a pretty intimidating setup…they had lights kind of shining on you, and they were getting ready to fire questions at you,” Posey joked.

“One of the guys noticed I was a little nervous, so he looked at me and said, ‘Pat, are you okay?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m a little nervous,’ and he said, “Don’t worry, everything’s going to be OK, you’re among friends here.’ That guy was Jim Lee, right here (pointing). It made me realize at that second how important it is to make your associates feel comfortable in their environment. Because you guys weren’t there to beat me up; you were there to find out if I was ready to go to school or not, right? From that second on, I actually felt a lot more comfortable going through the interview.”

Posey thought the interview went well, and then waited, again, for the mail to come.

Sure enough, Posey was chosen to represent Ralphs in the FIM Class; the only thing needed was for his transcript to be sent to USC.

He was already preparing to go to school in January when USC sent him a note saying his GPA wasn’t high enough for the FIM Program.

“I thought if I had graduated school already, I didn’t have to have the GPA requirements, and so did Ralphs at the time. So I called our HR department and asked, ‘you guys said I could go; what’s the deal? They said, ‘It’s not up to us, it’s up to the school.’”

So Posey got in touch with Dr. Jim Stevenson at USC and made an appointment.

“I walked in and said, ‘What can I do to get in?’ He said, ‘Well, you don’t qualify, you can’t get in.’”

But Dr. Stevenson had a suggestion: Posey could go back to Cal State Fullerton, take two graduate-level classes, get As in both classes and then apply to the FIM Program again.

“So that day, I left USC and drove to Cal State Fullerton, went straight to the admissions office and signed up for school again and took two graduate-level classes over the next two years,” Posey said. “I got As in both and couldn’t wait to run back and see Dr. Stevenson.”

Posey made an appointment with him.

“Dr. Stevenson, do you remember me?” Posey asked.

“Of course, I remember you. But I never expected to see you again,” Dr. Stevenson said.

“Why?” Posey asked.

“Because, Pat, you’re not the first guy who didn’t qualify to get in this program. You’re not the first guy that didn’t have all the curriculum to get in but wanted to get in,” Dr. Stevenson said. “But you are the first guy that ever came back. Let me see your grades.”

He was pretty impressed with those two As and told Posey that if Ralphs would approve him going to the class, he would let him in.

Posey again submitted all the necessary paperwork and again found himself being interviewed for a spot in the class. Because he had already been approved for the class once before, he had to humbly explain that his GPA had kept him out and the lengths that he had gone to to qualify for the class.

“For me, getting in was the hard part. The classes were hard enough, but getting in was really hard,” Posey said.

“If you fast-forward 18 years, my boss Kevin Davis nominated me to be on the board of directors for the Western Association of Food Chains, and I got on. And I thought, ‘wow, I’ve really arrived.’ I went to my first conference in Hawaii and looked across the room at one of the cocktail parties and saw Dr. Stevenson there. I went over to him and exchanged pleasantries like we’ve done over the years, and I said, ‘Look, Dr. Stevenson, I have this pin right here that says I’m on the board of directors for the Western Association of Food Chains. Did you ever think I would be on the board?

“He paused for a second and in his fatherly way looked at me and said, ‘I knew you’d be on the board; I knew you would get all these accolades through your life. I’m not the one that doubted you, you are.’

“It was at that second I realized that this guy thinks he’s responsible for my career,” Posey joked. “And, partially, he is…but I really realized it was Dr. Stevenson, Ruben Davila, Norm Sigband and Tom Arnold…they have their footprint on my neck because a lot of what I have accomplished in my life—not only at school, but…being a father, being a husband and being an employee—I learned here. So for that, I’d like to thank the WAFC for allowing me to go through the program, and I’d also like to thank the university for letting me come to the program.”

Posey concluded: “To the students, I offer my sincere wishes for tremendous success here at USC in your careers, and to the donors, thank you again for your investment in the future leaders of our industry. You’re really making a difference.”

*Editor’s note: Find more coverage and photos from the USC FIM Program Donor Luncheon in the April 2016 print edition of The Shelby Report of the West.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

1 Comment

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  • Pat Posey is one of the class individuals in our Industry. His story is one of perseverance and character building and he lives in his everyday life. He embodies true class and gives back tenfold for what he has been given in opportunities. Continued success in your career and in life Pat!

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