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    September 27, 2023

    reCONNECT Keynote: Catalyst's Recipe for Building Food Safety and Trust

    Food safety goes beyond regulations and technology. It's about building a culture that prioritizes safety, quality, and inclusivity at every level of the business.

    At reCONNECT 2023, our day one strategic live keynote and Q&A with Catalyst LLC, "Serving Up Trust," was a highly anticipated session. The session dived into the crucial aspects of transforming food industry culture in a discussion with Katy Jones and the award-winning founders of Catalyst LLC, Tia Glave and Jill Stuber. You can watch the replay of this session by registering for reCONNECT and checking your email for the access link and password. Here is a teaser of what our hosts shared during this essential discussion. 

    Meet the Catalyst Founders

    In 2021, Tia Glave and Jill Stuber joined forces to launch Catalyst LLC, a dynamic initiative aimed at driving world-class food safety and quality cultures within leading food companies. Their mission is clear: to build strong leaders in technical food safety, people skills, and dynamic organizational management and provide roadmaps for food manufacturers and retailers to build sustainable food safety cultures. Their journey and accomplishments have already left a lasting impact on the industry.


    The Importance of Human Skills in Food Industry Leadership

    In any business, leadership positions have the opportunity to set precedent and establish strong organizational culture for the entire business. Leadership in the food industry is no different but has the added pressure of setting a standard for food safety and quality standards as well. But what sets apart a great leader in this context?

    It's more than just technical knowledge; it's about fostering a culture of trust, inclusivity, and continuous improvement through the use of human skills like empathy, or navigating conflict. While some leaders may excel at management skills, Tia and Jill believe the real secret to success is leaning into these human skills.

    Jill shared, "As leaders, we need to lean into human skills, not just management skills or what you learn in training. But even the most successful leaders will find leaning into human skills can be a new challenge. Continuous improvement and collaboration are most effective as a business partner."

    Tia agreed, "We're talking about new competencies that lean into creating safer spaces in the workplace, that focus on empathy. If you're trying to make a change in your culture, it starts with you (as a leader). There may be some feelings of vulnerability as you have to look at your skills in a new way. What worked 5-10 years ago, won’t necessarily work in the same way now. Just as our businesses grow and evolve, our food safety culture needs to as well.

    Developing Human Skills 

    Jill shared how leadership skills can elevate food safety culture: "Technical leaders need to know how to navigate conflict and do difficult conversations. But empathy and compassion are essential for leadership. Even if you haven’t perfected empathy, you can learn it today and practice this new skill set. Understanding the values and beliefs of the people you work with, not just the company, is essential."

    "We lean into human-centric leadership," Tia said. "Data is important in guiding us, but we have to move past the data, into human-to-human connection through safe spaces, active listening, and more to make a difference."

    The pair also emphasized how essential it is to involve middle managers in food safety culture. While organizations often focus on helping top company leaders learn these skills, middle managers often have the most influence on changing food safety culture. "Middle managers want to be a part of the change," Jill shared, "but they also want the support and investment to do it well. It's the whole being, not just the work being."

    A Diverse and Inclusive Approach

    Tia Glave and Jill Stuber understand that a diverse team brings a wealth of perspectives and experiences to the table. This can lead to more effective problem-solving and innovation, but how does it impact food safety programs? 

    "It's the cornerstone of food safety culture," shared Jill. "We have a challenge to build stronger systems to keep up with innovation, and if we only include the voices we have today, how can we even prepare?"

    Tia elaborated, "It brings in broader perspectives and voices, but it requires inviting people to use their voice and diversifying the voices brought to the table. That’s why our programs focus on human connection and self-awareness, because these aspects are so important. Culture and race differences can expand our perspectives too. And it helps our teams grow and promote food safety across a culture. Culture equals people. Without including a diverse group of voices, we are missing a critical part of culture. This is why having support is so important to implement change. It requires having the right people and the right voices to help you understand how change is going to impact your company."

    "Each step forward is more progress, and as we think about the global aspects of food safety and the supply chain, we know we have to create these environments to embrace diversity and improve our system," Jill shared.

    Leadership: The Backbone of Food Safety

    It's often said that a food safety program is only as good as those who lead it. This statement couldn't be more accurate. In this keynote conversation, our hosts provided insights into how strong, value-centric, and diverse leadership is the backbone of any successful food safety program. In an industry where safety and quality are non-negotiable, it's the leaders who set the tone.

    The "Serving Up Trust" reCONNECT keynote and Q&A was an enlightening and inspiring session. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting your career in food safety, Tia Glave and Jill Stuber's insights provide valuable takeaways that can transform the way you approach leadership and culture within your organization. To access the recording, as well as other reCONNECT sessions, register for reCONNECT and check your email for the recording link and password.

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