Taylor Farms’ Katrina Gargiulo writes about her experience at last week’s Center for Growing Talent by PMA Emerging Leaders Program.
I thought I had an idea of what I was in for when I headed down to sunny Tucson, Arizona, to take part in the 2017 Center for Growing Talent by PMA Emerging Leaders Program. Let’s just say my expectations were completely blown away by the quality, depth, and significance of the four-day program, which is presented each year by the Center for Growing Talent by PMA. The multifaceted program is designed to prepare young leaders across all segments of the agriculture industry to embrace responsibility and prepare for the challenges and opportunities inherent in future leadership roles.
Each day was comprised of a series of interactive sessions and group activities led by industry and business experts, and the topics ranged from strategic business thinking, to financial literacy (if you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business), to leadership development, and more! Alongside the sessions was a “business simulation” portion of the program.
Teams got to “take control” of a produce company, managing it for a number of simulated “seasons” of business through a thoughtfully crafted computer program. Our groups were thrown into a fast-paced, high-pressure environment, where we were able to utilize the leadership and analytical tools we had been learning. The drive and competitive spirit among the teams was contagious!
My Biggest Takeaways
The Big Picture – Strategic and proactive thinking are extremely important in business. Whether in the produce industry as a whole or within Taylor Farms, it can be easy to develop “tunnel vision” within your specific role. The more education we have about our company (and our industry), the better equipped we will be to make effective strategy-based decisions.
Leadership – What makes a great leader? Through a series of assessments we examined our specific personality strengths and weaknesses and ways that we can enhance our effectiveness with teams and individuals.
Building Relationships – This program provided a fantastic networking opportunity for young professionals across the fresh produce industry. Our shared sense of ambition and passion transcended into relationships that I know will be made long-term!
“The program was an amazing educational experience. The quality of both the material we covered and the instructors we learned from were surpassed only by the superior peer group I had the pleasure of getting to know throughout the program,” recalled my colleague Tim Marcroft, Taylor Farms Tennessee. “The combination of a fierce competitive spirit and a passion for the industry created a highly motivated atmosphere that was positively electric.”
I know I am speaking on behalf of myself and all the other participants in the 2017 program when I say ”Thank you!” to the Center for Growing Talent by PMA for providing such an amazing opportunity to grow and connect. I wanted to give an additional “Thank you!” to Taylor Farms for giving me the opportunity to attend this program and grow as a young professional. It’s amazing to work for a company that is willing to invest in you as an employee and I am excited to bring my experiences and learnings back to my teams and get to work!
This is the sixth year Taylor Farms involved emerging leaders in this program. Past participants were: