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PMA’s Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference participants ready for change

I recently returned from an inspiring few days at the FireSky Resort & Spa in lovely Scottsdale, AZ. I took part in the Produce Marketing Association Foundation’s Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference on April 21-23, sponsored by the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent in partnership with the Simmons College School of Management in Boston. It was the conference’s inaugural outing.

A total of 176 women from across the produce and floral industry were in full attendance and the energy throughout the event was amazing. The attendees represented a full range of ages and years in the industry, and a wide variety of job responsibilities, all of which made for great conversation and insights. The mix of enthusiastic attendees and great speakers gave rise to candid, lively questions and enriching dialogue.

What struck me most was the eagerness and willingness of the attendees to speak out, ask questions and challenge the status quo. I could not help but be moved by how ready and willing this group was to move forward and shape the future of the produce and floral industry.

When asked, “What attitude most holds you back?” the overwhelming response people said they heard was, “This is produce.” I heard the same reason in floral: “This is floral.” As if to say, “This is it, live with it.”

But this group of women did not seem ready to settle. Everyone was up for trying new things, being bold and being innovative.

The workshops were about developing vision, working on negotiations, building business acumen and developing great teams. Throughout the conference, there was a whole lot of networking going on.

I left the conference with great confidence that our industry in is great hands, now and for the future. And those early morning classes of Zumba and yoga helped solidify my feeling that produce and floral is the place to be!

Catherine Jakaitis is global marketing manager of Floralife in Walterboro, SC. Floralife is a division of Smithers-Oasis. Ms. Jakaitis can be reached at 843/539-1666, or via email at