Industry students leverage networking and education at university training programs
As training and development take a more prominent role in the food retailing industry, participants past and present in university programs around the country told SN they are gaining as much from their education as they are from the networking that the classrooms provide.
“The classroom is very dynamic,” said Walt Tyson, a longtime Supervalu employee who is enrolled in the St. Joseph's University Executive Master's in Food Marketing program. “Everyone there is in the business, so we have great discussions in class.”
Likewise, one of his fellow students in the program, Lisa Overman, director of marketing and advertising for the Harvey's chain in Nashville, Ga., said she benefits from the interaction with her fellow students and professors as well as with the guest lecturers who present at the school.
“You can learn so much from your colleagues,” she said. “I have been able to bring just as much back home with me from what my classmates have shared, and that's had a big impact.”
SN interviewed current and former students from some of the industry's top training schools, which include the University of Southern California, Portland State University and Cornell University, in addition to St. Joseph's University, and profiled the individuals on the following pages.
The executives and managers are leveraging their contacts and coursework, and applying them in the workplace. Overman, for example, was able to gain insight into loyalty marketing as she introduced Harvey's first frequent-shopper program in April.
Jeffrey Juckel, general manager for the Oregon division of Haggen Inc., Bellingham, Wash., said attending school — he went through both the Food Industry Leadership Program at PSU and the Food Industry Management Program at USC — gave him a much broader perspective on the industry and its relationships with the community and with suppliers.
“One of the most meaningful aspects of the [USC] program was that it wasn't just retail people there, but also people from the supply side, which brought a variety of different points of view to discussions,” he said.
Like several of the other individuals profiled, Juckel works for a company that is a big supporter of continuing professional education — Haggen supports a retail management certificate program, for example, and sends four employees each year to training programs at USC and PSU.