International Fresh Produce Association's Cathy Burns Discusses Importance of Women's Fresh Perspectives Conference
SANTA ANA PUEBLO, NM - I am off to an adventure, and with me are hundreds of women in fresh produce ready to make a difference in themselves and their businesses.
“The women here are deeply committed to learning and bringing value back to their companies," Cathy Burns, Co-Chief Executive Officer, International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), tells me as we make plans for the 2022 Women's Fresh Perspectives Conference (WFPC). "Attendees are incredibly generous to each other, helping to guide one another, all making this a uniquely energizing event where we walk away inspired to develop and learn skills to make ourselves and other women in produce, and the businesses they serve, stronger.”
In discussing attendance, which sold out not only the conference but the hotel it is hosted at as well, Cathy and I agree that industry members are hungry to get together in person to discuss and tackle ongoing challenges.
“We all want to get back to growing our capabilities, and this gathering is for all produce businesses across the supply chain and across positions within those businesses,” Cathy reflects, adding that, as our industry grows, so must our skills. “This and other events are making a point to tap into why and how women specifically answer a need to the nature of our work. We have all heard there is a ‘Great Resignation,’ but I call it the Great Reset; it’s an opportunity to refresh and innovate our capabilities through new talent.”
When IFPA launched, Cathy and the team ensured talent as a focus area, and a big part of that is opportunities like WFPC, which provide professional development with an industry view in mind.
“The challenges we are facing with supply chain, logistics, and labor all show we need more talent development,” she observes. “WFPC is a key part of how we look at growing talent overall. I think uniting the power of women who want to contribute to real growth is unmatched and has incredible potential not just for the women of our industry, but for growing talent as a whole.”
Specifically, Cathy points to the opportunity to harness the power of innate female strengths in empathy and team building, as well as multitasking and vision.
“This is a huge opportunity we need to continue to leverage, whether that is access or tackling any fear that stands in the way of harnessing the power our industry has to change the world and the role women can play in it. It’s an event I love and make time to do every year,” Cathy says, tying together passion and urgency.
That passion is a testament not just to those who come to this event, but who build it to ensure it is always relevant, memorable, and inspirational.