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Nurturing Leadership Is Key For A Stronger Independent Future

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Greg Ferrara

It is crucial that the independent grocery industry be guided by leaders with the skills, experience and vision to propel it forward and keep it ahead of where it needs to be in a rapidly changing world.

NGA is dedicated to nurturing that leadership, from its beginnings to ongoing enrichment of executives committed to growth and innovation. To that end, the association – with the generous support of key partners and sponsors – offers several programs designed to cultivate these leaders from among the talent in the industry’s ranks.

Among these initiatives is the annual Executive Leadership Development Program, hosted by the National Grocers Association Foundation, sponsored by PepsiCo and held in cooperation with Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. 

At the 2022 edition of the program held in early June, accomplished academics and industry leaders led interactive instruction and personalized coaching for attendees, providing a comprehensive learning opportunity intended to accelerate the growth of leadership skills.

In all, 31 attendees from more than a dozen NGA member companies gathered over five days to develop their leadership skills so they can better implement organizational and cultural changes in their companies.

The ELDP program is designed for mid- to upper-level executives with large spans of control and responsibilities that require delegating tasks to others. 

This year’s program covered a variety of topics, including: leadership theory and practice; managing diverse teams; leadership assessments; one-on-one coaching; the link between leadership and strategy; and the importance of strategy in adapting to a changing environment.

As diversity has grown in prominence as a business consideration, NGAF has partnered with PepsiCo to offer the Diversity in Leadership Scholarship, which covers the cost of program attendance each year for one woman or minority candidate. This year’s recipient was Latasha Woodward, a vice president and district manager at Texas-based Brookshire Grocery Co.

Chelsea Matzen, director of the NGA Foundation, described the mission of the program: “ELDP helps independent retailers and wholesalers develop leaders from within their organizations, enabling them to better respond to business challenges. 

“This year’s attendees departed from Cornell University with the tools necessary to thrive in the independent grocery industry, helping their organizations compete in a competitive marketplace. I congratulate these leaders and look forward to seeing them apply their new skills in the workplace.”

To inspire future candidates, we invite all past program attendees to share stories of their experience with us at [email protected]

Speaking of inspiration, NGAF also offers programs designed to help today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders. 

Our Student Case Study Competition strives to further the professional development of collegiate students pursuing degrees in food and retail programs and provides student teams the opportunity to creatively address a real-world issue currently impacting the industry. 

The competition, held in multiple rounds during the annual NGA Show in February, awards up to $4,000 each to the winning team of students and their university. 

More information about this program, including recent winners, can be found at www.nationalgrocers.org/foundation/student-case-study-competition.

With these programs, among other initiatives, NGA and the NGA Foundation aim to enhance the learning experience for leaders of independent grocery along every step of their career journey. Together, we can create a vibrant future for our industry and the communities it serves.

For more information, visit nationalgrocers.org.

For more association news from The Shelby Report, click here.

About the author

Greg Ferrara

President and CEO of NGA

Greg Ferrara is the president and CEO of the National Grocers Association is the trade association representing the U.S. independent community supermarket industry. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers located in every congressional district across the country, as well as state grocers’ associations, manufacturers and service suppliers.

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