Being able to escape the Minnesota winter and present and participate at the NGA Convention was a rewarding and priceless experience. I would like to first and foremost thank all those who supported our group and aided us in our presentation.
My experience at the National Grocers Association as a second year participant was as exciting and impressive as the first time. Being able to experience the sights and sounds of the convention and seeing familiar faces was most definitely a highlight and helped me better connect to industry professionals and my fellow student peers from other universities.Our case study this year focused on how an independent grocery store could use mobile coupons and mobile app technologies to compete with big box retailers, differentiate their stores, and ultimately improve their bottom line. As a group, we focused on two strategies, one of which we used a low budget advertising strategy and the other where we recommended a cutting edge advertising strategy. Although we did not place in the top four of the universities that participated, the experience and hard work that we put in was invaluable. I firmly believe that experiences like that only strengthen and sharpen our skills as students and give us key insights on relevant issues that the food industry is facing.
Along with the intensive case study preparation and presentation, this year I was also a member of a student panel that was meant to promote the food retail industry to the next generation. I, along with other students from Western Michigan University, St. Joseph's University, Louisiana State University, and Portland State University participated in a discussion geared towards today's industry executives into how to recruit the next generation of food business leaders. The questions asked were very interesting and thought provoking, as were the answers. Too often, retailers emphasize on hard work and long term payoff and completely disregard what new members of the workforce are looking for in an employer. I, along with other students enrolled in these leading food industry programs, spoke candidly and openly about issues and stereotypes that the grocery industry faces. Listeners of the panel were hopefully able to better understand how to be an employer of choice for high-potential employees now entering the workforce, like myself.
Other workshops that I participated in were focused on Low Income Areas and the Challenges and Opportunities those grocers face in those neighborhoods. The questions and discussions were particularly stimulating and we heard a variety of answers from executives from across the country. At the convention floor, I had the pleasure of partnering up with my mentor from Kraft Foods, whom introduced me to many contacts from across the floor. His experience, guidance and words of wisdom were instrumental for someone like myself looking to find a place among the wide array of opportunities that are offered in the grocery industry. Even though we were only able to hang out for a brief period of time, I can count on him as a mentor and look forward to keeping in contact with him as I continue my career. This, along with our mobile marketing case study competition and all the other convention happenings, speakers, workshops and networking events made the 2012 NGA Convention a success!