León, Guanajuato, Mexico — The Center for Growing Talent (CGT) hosted a first-ever program to attract top Mexican university students to learn about careers in the fresh produce and floral industry 23-24 May at Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Connections: Mexico Conference & Expo. The pilot Career Pathways program followed a model that CGT has successfully used to attract the best and brightest university students to the industry in countries around the world.
The 10 students who participated are studying agribusiness at Universidad de Guanajuato. Each student was assigned a Career Ambassador who is employed in the Mexican industry. Career Ambassadors help guide students through the pilot program, and then through several conference events.
This pilot program successfully tested the Career Pathways model in Mexico, with the local students responding very positively.
“Our hope is that participating students consider jobs in our industry,” said Inés Masallach, marketing director for Imalinx and chairperson of PMA’s Mexico Country Council. “Part of PMA’s role is to help grow connections to people and ideas, grow businesses, and grow a healthier world. One way to grow is to attract more smart, talented, and creative people to help our industry advance.”
Career Pathways has been a successful recruiting tool for the fresh produce and floral industry since they began in 2004 at PMA’s Fresh Summit. More than 1,000 university students have participated to date in programs in the United States, Canada and around the globe. To date, 67 percent of those students who participated took a job or internship in industry; 78 percent of them remain in the industry today.
"The knowledge this type of event provides to us and the ability to learn and start developing in the working environment within the produce industry are great experiences that will help our personal, work and intellectual growth," said Xóchitil Gonzáles Rodríguez, one of the participating students from Universidad de Guanajuato.
Fresh Connections: Mexico is the only event in Mexico dedicated to bringing together the entire fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain, including suppliers, growers, exporters, importers, distributions, supermarkets, and all those who serve these sectors. At least 17 buyers from 10 Mexican supermarket chains attended, as well as at least 25 importers and 81 growers. More than 40 companies exhibited.
Attraction is just one part of CGT’s mission
While Career Pathways is the program that Center for Growing Talent first became known for, it is only one part of the nonprofit charity’s work. CGT’s mission is to provide industry-specific solutions to help attract, develop and retain the talent needed to feed our industry’s growth.
Last year, Center for Growing Talent added Immersion Academy to its attraction strategy. Where Career Pathways creates awareness among university students, Immersion Academy engages and prepares college
seniors to be ready to begin careers in the ¬¬industry. Seven out of 10 of the seniors who participated in the inaugural Immersion Academy in November 2017 took jobs in the industry.
To fulfill its develop mission, Center for Growing Talent offers leadership development training for every career stage, including young professionals, emerging leaders, high-performing middle managers and senior executives. In addition, CGT offers Women’s Fresh Perspectives programs designed specifically for women.
CGT’s leadership development programs have two key advantages over mainstream programs: they are designed specifically to meet the unique needs of our industry; and their participants come from across the global supply chain, which fosters a diverse exchange of ideas that can’t be achieved with in-house training programs.
CGT was created by PMA in 2005. Now in its second decade, CGT is defining its offerings to help industry retain top talent.
CGT’s work is made possible by contributions from industry leaders large and small. To learn more, visit www.CenterforGrowingTalent.org.
Editor’s note: Contact PMA’s Cassidy Taylor for photos to accompany this story.
About Center for Growing Talent
Center for Growing Talent (CGT) was created in 2005 by the produce and floral industry to provide industry-specific solutions to attract, develop and retain the talent needed to feed our industry’s growth. CGT offerings provide a breadth of resources and programs for companies – regardless of their place in the supply chain or their size. As a tax-exempt charitable organization, CGT invests contributions made by visionary leaders to grow people across our industry. For more information, visit www.CenterforGrowingTalent.org.