Buffalo, NY, January 6, 2014 – A “Sequential Day”, the once-a-century phenomenon when the calendar numbers align in a sequence, is said to be a lucky day. Such was the case on 11.12.13, and good fortune was certainly on the side of those planning and executing the launch of the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) in China.
As an introduction to the region, a panel of speakers, presenters and female leaders in the foodservice industry shared their experience and insight with more than 80 participants, exploring trends on women in leadership in China and opportunities for advancement within the foodservice sector. As a global food industry leader, Rich’s takes great pride in supporting the WFF and efforts to expand into China as a means of fostering the growth, education and career advancement of Asia’s foodservice leaders.
Rich’s has been an advocate of the WFF’s mission since 1997, participating in activities and programs of all levels. Most recently, Maureen Hurley, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer for Rich Products, played a key role in the Shanghai launch. Hurley was an active WFF Board Member from 2005-2011, following Rich’s President and CEO Bill Gisel’s term on the Board. Jill Bond, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, is currently serving on the WFF Board.
“The WFF has been the foodservice industry’s premier Leadership Development resource in America since 1989,” said Hurley. “In 2008, WFF expanded into Canada and quickly recognized that there were other international markets where the WFF’s programs and goal would have significant relevance.”
The Chinese marketplace offers a unique set of circumstances. While many companies are experiencing exponential growth, they are also faced with significant challenges in finding, retaining and developing talent. These realities, in conjunction with the fact that a large number of the American WFF corporate sponsors have a presence in China, made the WFF directors consider China as a logical location for expansion.
Fritzi Woods, the dynamic CEO of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, who passed away suddenly this past September, was particularly intrigued with the growth potential China afforded to WFF. She had planned to accompany Maureen Hurley on this inaugural trip. It was in her honor that WFF executives decided to go ahead with the WFF launch event in China.
Months of hard work and planning came together on 11.12.13 when the Food, Agriculture, and Beverage Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce hosted an afternoon event and networking session in Shanghai, gathering six of the industry’s top female executives to lead a discussion on Women in Leadership. A total of 86 delegates attended the event, including participants from Rich’s, Starbucks, Sodexho, Aramark, Compass, Coke, Lamb Weston, and McCormick.
Hurley gave an opening presentation, as did Sarah Butler, Greater China, Booz & Company. Following these presentations, Hurley moderated a panel discussion including Butler; Karen So, Coca-Cola Greater China; Angel Yu, Starbucks China; and Grace Han, Healthcare and Seniors, Sodexo China.
The panel discussion explored topics including: trends on women in leadership in China today, what women’s leadership can bring to today’s business challenges, advancing women in leadership through personal and organizational commitments and opportunities, and women leaders as role models in the foodservice sector.
The event was well attended and well received by participants and succeeded in building awareness of the WFF.
“There is definitely an interest in exploring further how WFF can become a more active organization in China,” said Hurley. “There was excitement expressed by the people who attended that WFF could fill a void that exists in the market today.”
Like in Canada, Hurley acknowledged that the key to success will be to have some committed leaders on the ground in China demonstrate interest and pull together a steering committee to lay out an approach and next steps.
The Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) has been the go-to resource for individuals to build skills, expand knowledge and broaden perspectives through meaningful strategic Connections, so they can reach their full potential and accelerate their career growth. The WFF serves more than 20,000 individuals and over a 1,000 organizations in all segments of the industry including operations, manufacturing, distribution, publishing, consulting and more.