Empowered women empower others
Each year Oppy sends an employee to attend the Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference, a powerful event that celebrates and amplifies the voices of women in the produce industry. This event, organized in partnership with the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), is dedicated to providing a platform for women to share their experiences, insights and perspectives within a professional, industry-focused setting.
Taking place in Orlando, FL this past April, Oppy’s own Senior Business Development Representative Caitlin Gerstenberger attended the conference and was eager to share her experiences.
The conference attracted more than 280 women from diverse stages of their produce careers. Attendees ranged from recent college graduates to industry leaders. Caitlin noted the organizers created a unique and empowering environment where participants’ name tags had no mention of their job titles. This approach fostered positive and collaborative sessions throughout the conference as traditional expectations of organizational rank were removed, allowing for more open dialogue. She also highlighted that the event aimed to emphasize the importance of empowering everyone in our lives, while recognizing that women play a significant role in driving this transformative shift.
Spanning two days, the conference featured eight sessions, each exploring various topics related to personal and professional development. Caitlin found the following key takeaways particularly impactful:
- Own your SWAG (Success, Wisdom, Activities, Gifts) by clarifying your confidence, communicating your value, and connecting with authenticity.
- Understand your worth and value, and don’t hesitate to showcase it. Keep a weekly list of achievements, both big and small, visualizing yourself from a third-person perspective.
- Seek out a mentor and consider hiring a life/career coach. Engage in a nomination swap with a friend or colleague to mutually elevate one another.
- Cultivate an empowering network, utilizing relationships to enhance critical thinking abilities.
- Recognize the significance of preparation and understanding your audience during negotiations, including how their experiences might shape their reactions.
- Lead by example, inspiring others through your actions.
- Foster growth and connection by displaying vulnerability.
One of the highlights of the event was a roundtable discussion moderated by IFPA CEO Cathy Burns, featuring three accomplished women leaders in the produce industry. They shared personal perspectives, experiences, and insights about being women in the field, while also highlighting the positive changes they have witnessed — including the increasing number of women elevated to executive positions. The roundtable concluded with a call-to-action for all attendees to seek mentors and learn from the experiences of others. The conference theme, “Empowered Women Empower,” is all about building a strong network and helping to drive the industry forward. We can build relationships through our experiences and share stories to help elevate our colleagues through setting goals, having the right conversations, and fostering collaboration.
Caitlin resonated deeply with the idea of becoming a collector of stories, an essential practice at Oppy. “Listening to others and their experiences, holds great importance,” Caitlin said. “By immersing ourselves in each growers’ story, we can enrich our own lives and share these narratives to make a positive impact.” Caitlin explained that her role as senior business development representative is heavily involved in invigorating the connection space. Actively listening to, and sharing, the stories of our growers allows her to build meaningful and impactful relationships with retailers to help drive Oppy’s business forward.
The Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference was a remarkable event providing valuable insights, practical strategies, and inspiring stories to motivate attendees to embrace their own potential and support others in their journey to success. Thank you for sharing your insights with us Caitlin!