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NEW Atlanta debut features powerhouse panel

Wednesday, October 19, 2011  
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Nearly 350 cpg/retail industry leaders attended the first-ever NEW Atlanta networking event, October 18, 2011 at world headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company in downtown Atlanta.

A roundtable of senior executives shared their thoughts on how to manage change in today's marketplace. Patricia H. Mueller, vice president and chief marketing officer for The Home Depot; Horace Hamilton, vice president of merchandising for The Kroger Company; Karen Brewer-Edwards, regional general manager for Walmart Stores; and Ramin Eivaz, chief marketing officer for Acosta, engaged in a lively discussion moderated by Jeffery Tobias Halter, president of YWomen.

Asked what skills and key competencies are needed to lead now and in the future, Brewer-Edwards pointed to the willingness to ask questions to understand people’s thought processes, before making decisions. Eivaz advised the group to communicate and network effectively and clearly to all -- regardless of age group or gender.

Effective leadership stems from listening to the people who work for you, peers and customers -- not just your boss, Hamilton noted. "Also learn to follow your own lead and don't wait for someone to tell you were to go,” he said.

Taking risks and being accountable for your decisions are key attributes of good leaders, Mueller said. "Broaden your skill set, add value and articulate your contributions,” she added.

Diversity is the catalyst

"Diversity is the catalyst for innovative thinking, entrepreneurial spirit and new ways of building our communities,” Mueller noted, adding that women have been an invaluable part of Home Depot’s workforce throughout its 30 years in business.

Kroger’s Hamilton said the retail chain has long made developing a diverse and inclusive workforce and supplier network a business priority. The retailer partners with nearly 1,000 women-owned and minority companies and has launched a fast-track leadership and development program for its our highest potential associates and managers.

"We are thrilled that the Network of Executive Women is opening a chapter in Atlanta, one of our most important market areas, and we look forward to the education and networking benefits and tools the Network will bring to our Kroger associates and colleagues," Hamilton said.

Brewer-Edwards of Walmart said the Network's values are consistent with the retailer’s Global Women's Initiative to help more women live better. "It's a pleasure to participate in leading education and leadership platforms for women managers and suppliers in the Southeast region," she said.

Eivaz commented on the significant demographic shifts happening among today’s shoppers, noting that Baby Boomers are spending less, giving way to a younger generation of shoppers that are more ethnically diverse and influential. "At the same time, digital is advancing rapidly, making today’s shoppers smarter and better informed,” he noted. "Shoppers hold far more power than ever before, and to engage them we as marketers must become even more targeted with our efforts.”

More than 350 members and guests attended
the inaugural NEW Atlanta networking event.

Karen Brewer-Edwards of Wal-Mart Stores (left), Ramin Eivaz of Acosta, Horace Hamilton of The Kroger Company and Patricia H. Mueller of The Home Depot related their experiences.

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