OPINION: AHEAD OF WHAT'S NEXT
When I was tapped to moderate the majority of the sessions of the Leadership Development Program (LDP) offered during Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery event in early November in Orlando, Fla. — aided by my fantastic colleagues, Senior Editor Lynn Petrak, Multimedia Editor Emily Crowe and Editor-in-Chief Gina Acosta — I was admittedly nervous.
Although I had covered the grocery industry extensively during my 19(!) years with the publication, I had only limited experience moderating — or even participating in — a panel. That was all about to change, however, as I dove into the wonderful world of helping to plan a world-class event by programming impactful content for attendees, most of them Top Women honorees.
[Read more: "What Makes a Top Woman in Grocery?"]
Up Close and Inspirational
What was meaningful for me over the two days of the program was to have a front-row seat, as it were, to our incredible speakers’ personal stories and wise insights. It was nothing less than inspirational to hear how Liangxiao Zhu, VP of engineering at DoorDash, navigated her way through a heavily male-dominated industry to discover her voice, as well as her ability to lead; how store managers Pam Seivert, of Hornbacher’s, and Shannon Risley, of Niskayuna Co-op, held their staffs together with determination and compassion while dealing with daunting labor and supply chain issues amid a deadly pandemic and its aftermath; and how Meg Ham, president of Food Lion, embarked on her lifelong mission to create a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging among her company’s associates. An additional honor was having Sarah Alter, CEO and president of NextUp, lead her own timely panel on the important topic of allyship.
From my vantage point on stage, I could see that audience members were inspired, too, as shown by their assiduous note taking, rapt expressions, spontaneous outbursts of applause, and thoughtful, heartfelt questions. In fact, some of the sessions would have easily lasted longer than the allotted 30 minutes, since there was no shortage of queries from fully engaged attendees.