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And Now ... The Rest of the Story

This morning’s workshop on recruiting new talent to the supermarket industry recalled a similar FMI session three years in Chicago, when a bright young Portland State University student with an eye on a future retail career discussed how a company’s values and posture toward a “work-life” balance would influence the decision of the company she would seek.

PSU professor Tom Gilpatrick, a panelist at both events, revealed Tuesday that the young woman is no longer in the food retail business, having left the industry after a transfer brought her into contact with a co-worker whose attitudes toward minorities left her disillusioned, and she now works for Nike.

Gilpatrick’s where-are-they-now story punctuated an undercurrent to the recruiting angle: While the industry needs to continue focusing on making supermarkets an attractive place for young college graduates, keeping young recruits in the business for a few years can often be just as big a challenge.

The grass however, isn’t always greener on the other side. Moderator Rose Mitchell, a senior vice president at Hy-Vee, told of one of her young recruits who quit the business after being unable to arrange a Saturday off to see an Iowa-Iowa State football game – a holiday for most Iowans but not for their home-state supermarket. But after a few months of free Saturdays but endless weekdays on a cubicle farm for a financial firm, the former employee, Mitchell said, reached out for a second chance.