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Wrapping Up: Future Connect Succeeded by Keeping its Focus

The long-awaited FMI Future Connect conference has just ended, but it’s definitely not over.

FMI plans ongoing educational opportunities both online and offline, and many attendees will be engaged in follow-up discussions within their companies.

This proved to be a very different kind of forum for the 1800 that attended, which is probably the biggest reason for its success.

The mission wasn’t to discuss how to overcome the economic downturn or sell more products in the next year. Rather, speakers and attendees spent three days addressing topics that aren’t on the front-burner of all companies, but will become more pressing in coming years, including building and developing the next generation of leaders.

Future Connect mostly drew praise from attendees for its content and concept. Like any first-time effort, it will certainly be analyzed and tweaked in some ways.

The commitment of retailers such as Kroger Co. and Hy-Vee, which sent large numbers of associates, was also instrumental to the forum‘s success. Many of the attendees were a few levels below their company’s top executives, and more than a few had probably never been to a major industry conference before.

Future Connect’s content was often tailored to such future leaders in both overt and subtle ways. Even in the Speaks presentation, normally FMI’s industry trends report for senior executives, the association’s president and CEO, Leslie Sarasin, outlined key issues and put things into perspective for retailer and supplier rising stars.

“Here is your chance to learn why your CEO or owner is not always in the best of moods…and what you may have to address if you aspire to become the chief executive officer,” she said.

The mission of building future company leaders is critical for this industry. Those leaders need to be prepared well before their moment arrives. That was made clear here, and hopefully the momentum will continue.