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2016 Emerging Leaders Network Report
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Emerging Leaders Network Experience

by Prabal Ghosh
Chair, Manitoba Section, CIFST

The Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) is a transformational global leadership program offered by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). The objective of this program is to support the development of emerging food science professionals who are passionate and eager to expand their leadership skills to advance the profession. The ELN program was initiated by IFT four years ago as ‘LEAD 360’. The ELN program is by invitation only. Food science and technology organizations around the world are invited to nominate candidates to participate in the ELN program. I was selected by the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) for the 2016 ELN program, which was held in conjunction with IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo (IFT16) in Chicago from July 16th to July 18th. Funding for my registration, accommodation and travel expenses were provided jointly by CIFST and IFT.

This year’s ELN program has attracted 40 young, talented and high potential industry and academic professionals from 11 countries. All participants had been pre-assigned to peer groups (forums) to work together for the duration of the ELN program and possibly beyond. These forums were intended to be a conduit to connection with other members in a meaningful and confidential environment. Among the program participants, six were selected from previous program years to serve as peer mentors. This was a new element added to this year’s program. Peer mentors helped us introduce to each other through an online community prior to the event in Chicago, shared some valuable reading materials on leadership development to initiate online discussions with fellow ELN participants, and served as forum facilitators and peer advisors throughout the program.

The ELN program was delivered through a series of lectures, forum activities, panel and breakout group discussions facilitated by the course instructor Debra Zabloudil, President and CEO of the Learning Studio Inc., IFT past and new Fellows, luminaries across the profession, IFT staff and peer mentors. The ELN course focused around the concepts of core leadership development, team building, conflict and change management, career mapping, communication as well as the role of mentoring on career development. I learned the differences between ‘leading’ versus ‘managing’ mindset, the benefits of mindfulness in work and life, how and why to initiate and lead a change process, how to consistently operate with credibility and integrity. I developed an understanding of team dynamics and success factors, and how to effectively communicate about the profession to others. The career insight panelists emphasized that job satisfaction and peer recognition are the most important factors to develop a successful career.

2016 IFT Food Expo – the largest food ingredient show in North America, with over 1,000 participating companies from all over the world.

The ELN participants had an opportunity to visit the IFT Expo floor. The IFT Expo brought together more than 1,000 exhibiting companies, showcasing industry's largest collection of food ingredients, equipment, processing, and packaging suppliers, all under one roof. I had an opportunity to discover unique consumer and market trend pavilions, explore the latest scientific developments, and experience the science in action on the expo floor. I stopped by the Canada Pavilion to meet with some Manitoba food companies and learn about some of Canada’s emerging food companies. In addition, we got a sneak peek of several film clips from the completed documentary ‘Food Evolution’ and heard a panel discussion covering topics that include the misperception of science, the powerful influence of advocacy groups and social media and how the need for scientists to communicate better is paramount for meeting the challenge of feeding over nine billion people in the year 2050. We also had an opportunity to attend a consumer panel discussion, which featured consumer survey results presented by C+R Research and a panel discussion of six Chicagoland consumers who shared their thoughts on products currently on the shelves and what clean label foods they’d like to see in the future.

IFT’s President-Elect John Coupland (left) moderates the Food Evolution documentary panel discussion with the academy-award nominated Director, Scott Hamilton Kennedy (middle) and British author, environmental activist, and fellow at Cornell Alliance for Science who is featured in the film, Mark Lynas (right).

Consumer Panel discussion moderated by Kat Figatner, Vice-President - Qualitative Team, C+R Research. Six Chicagoland consumers were selected from over 1000 consumers participated in the C+R Research study on clean food labels.

The ELN participants were invited to attend the IFT Awards Ceremony, IFT’s Welcome Reception, International Allied Reception, Division Networking Reception, and ELN Closing Session and Closing Celebration and reception to meet and network with IFT Board Leadership and Global Partner Leadership, IFT Fellows and special award recipients, senior-level executives from the world’s top food companies, department heads from leading universities, and senior executives from international food science and technology organizations. During one of those events, I got a special opportunity to get my photo taken with CIFST Executive Director Carol Ann Burrell and IFT’s senior executives. This year’s IFT annual event brought together more than 21,000 food professionals from around the world -in industry, government, and academia. We were also invited to attend the New Professionals Mixer event to meet and interact with a group of like-minded food science professionals interested in exchanging information, providing support for one another, and making new contacts. Chicago is among the largest cities in the United States and famed for its skyscrapers. I was able to find some time to visit the Millennium Park, the Art Institute, and the Navy Pier and taste Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza.

CIFST and IFT leaders met at the International Allied Reception. L to R: John Coupland, President-Elect (IFT); Colin Dennis, President (IFT); Carol Ann Burrell, Executive Director (CIFST); Prabal Ghosh, ELN participant and Chair of Manitoba Section (CIFST); and Christie Tarantino-Dean, Executive Vice-President and CEO (IFT).

Enjoying PureCircle Moscow Mule at the New Professionals Mixer Event in Rockit Grill and Bar, Chicago.

Over 20,000 participants gathered at the IFT Welcome Reception.

Joining the ELN helped me benefit from an enlightening and enriching professional and personal development and growth experience – one that can enhance my leadership skills and help me embrace new skills through a collaborative exchange of ideas with food industry leaders and food science professionals around the globe. From forum discussions to peer networking, I realized issues and challenges faced by the food industry around the world are very similar and situations every young professionals like me are going through are not unique to us. I learned how to manage and lead change and be better informed and organized to increase productivity and contribute in new ways to this ever-growing and challenging sector. With a better understating of my leadership strengths and broad, integrated perspective on general management, I came away with actionable lessons that will help me contribute to CIFST’s long-term growth, lead and manage change, build teams, and offer mentorship to peers and young professionals to help them advance their career and succeed within the organization. As CIFST Manitoba Section Chair and CIFST Section Advisory Committee member, I will try to apply different aspects of the learning from ELN, by engaging the team in a positive way. I would like to thank both the IFT and CIFST for giving me this opportunity to participate in the ELN 2016 program.

The 2016 Emerging Leaders Network participants – a professional network built to last!

Photos courtesy of IFT                        


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        This page was last updated on 2016-11-22 2:18:26 PM