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Industry execs inspire ‘thought-ful’ leadership

Thursday, October 16, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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More than 100 NEW members learned strategies for being more effective leaders at the NEW Western Michigan learning event, Oct. 14, 2014 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.

Dan Eizans, director of digital experience at SpartanNash; Karmelita Middlemiss, vice president of business intelligence at Acosta Sales & Marketing; Randy Stewart, group vice president of merchandising at Meijer; and Betsy Wollney, customer vice president for Meijer at Kraft Food shared their insights on becoming "thought leaders.” NEW Western Michigan Programming Co-Chair Linh Peters of Spartan Nash led the discussion.

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"Being a thought leader is something we can all strive for and achieve regardless of our level," Peters said.

"A thought leader is always striving to learn more and invests the time to ask, ‘What is possible?’" Middlemiss added.

The panelists reminded attendees that giving and receiving feedback is critical for career development. "As thought leaders, we should utilize feedback to improve ourselves or a process," Stewart said.

"Ask for honest feedback and use the feedback to keep growing and learning," agreed Wollney, who also recommended limiting feedback to three points per request.

Eizans shared tips for leading in the face of adversity. "When challenging a status quo, it's helpful to find champions that support your message," he said. Effective leaders, he added, leverage data to support bold ideas.

Still, career development doesn't require a track record of continuous success. "Give yourself permission to fail once in a while," Stewart said. "That's where you will grow the most."

Organizations sending large groups to the event include Acosta Sales & Marketing, Kellogg Company, Kraft Foods Inc. and SpartanNash.

Ashleigh Gage of ConAgra Foods Inc., Jessica Bachand of Kellogg
Company, Jennifer Worst of Faygo Beverages and Rae Ann Elliott of
Hormel Foods networked at the NEW Western Michigan event.

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