Women leading at the speed of change
“When you get a seat at the table, you have a point of view, you have insights, you have a voice … go use it.”
“Put your words into action.”
“Decide what your personal brand is and don’t waver from it.”
These are just a few of the takeaways from a panel discussion at the Women in Foodservice Forum’s (WFF) Leadership Development Workshop at our headquarters today.
Eighty women attended the one-day workshop, hosted by General Mills. It provided insights and best practices from leaders and delivered hands-on, practical skills training.
“General Mills is so committed to the development of all of our employees,” says Bethany Quam, president of Convenience & Foodservice at General Mills. “We’re also committed to ensuring development in our community and ecosystem. We wanted to partner with the Women in Foodservice Forum to ensure that the women of Minneapolis got a chance to get the great development that WFF offers.”
I attended the Minneapolis Executive Panel moderated by Bethany. Leigh Anne Snider, chief retail officer at Caribou Coffee and Einstein Restaurant Group, and Susan Schneider, president at Plus Relocation Services, Inc. provided insights from their industry experience and also answered leadership questions posed by attendees.
The panel focused on the leadership competencies of agility, decision making and inclusive leadership.
A phrase Bethany used multiple times throughout the panel was agile leadership.
So, what exactly does that mean?
“It’s learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Bethany explains. “I always say leadership is action, not position, so it doesn’t have to be the leader of the biggest organization.”
Another word the panelists used throughout the discussion was confidence. Schneider encourages women to take action and create their own personal brand.
Schneider says, “Do it afraid. If you wait until your fear is gone, you’ll never do it. Fear is okay. It’s a good motivator to do things … One of the things my mother told me early on in my career was ‘decide what your personal brand is and stick to it.’ One of my things in my personal brand is that I will always tell the truth.”
Snider told the women at the workshop to use their voice and love what they do.
“When you get a seat at the table, you have a point of view, you have insights, you have a voice, go use it,” says Snider. “Don’t go for the title. Go for the work. Go for the company. Go for people that you really enjoy being with. Make sure you enjoy and are proud of what you’re doing.”
General Mills is a proud sponsor of WFF and the company usually sends 20 to 25 employees to the annual WFF conference in March. Bethany said events and other leadership development opportunities like the WFF have helped her during her career at General Mills.
“General Mills has been supporting the development of women,” Bethany says. “I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t worked for a company that believed in continuous learning and continually leaning in and making yourself uncomfortable to learn more.”
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