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On a recent call with the Networks Leadership Team, we discussed our current roster of volunteers and the need to recruit more to the FPSA Networks given that each Network has experienced turnover as a result of promotions and members moving on to new opportunities. These 2-3 years serving on these groups have helped our volunteers to not just expand their network, but to also learn valuable leadership skills while tackling critical topics with a wide variety of industry colleagues. It’s actually a nice problem to have and in truth, it was part of the plan when FPSA developed the Networks program. By creating a new platform for engagement, we are getting more individuals involved in the Association which helps each one of them be more successful in their job.

For those that are unaware of the FPSA Networks, they include the Women’s Alliance Network, the Young Professionals Group, the Food Safety Network, the Packaging Network and the Technology Network.

Since their creation, these five groups have worked on an extensive list of issues including Industry 4.0, virtual sales and marketing, gender pay equity, traceability, building a successful career, and a wide variety of food safety topics as well as many others. This content has been delivered during sessions at Process Expo and the FPSA Annual Conference, on the FPSA website, in podcasts and white papers as well as free webinars that industry professionals are invited to take advantage of.

In developing this content, Network members come into close contact with colleagues and competitors that can provide a different perspective on these topics. They work with food processors who can also provide a different dimension to this work. This interaction with other industry professionals on a common goal or issue doesn’t just drive the issue forward, it broadens each participants’ knowledge base which in the long run is a benefit to their member company. As the head of the Network Leadership Team, Matt Hartmann of Blentech, is fond of saying, “Your next generation of industry leaders starts here.”

When I discuss our Networks with FPSA members or prospects, the first question is almost always, “what’s the time commitment?” I get that. We’re all busier than ever before and without exception, the member’s work must come first, ahead of any volunteer opportunities we might have. But that said, volunteering is a bit of an investment. Hopefully, you get more out of it than you put in.

Speak with any past Chairman of the Association and you’ll hear that very comment, and that’s after 6-8-10 years of volunteering for the Association. For them, the payoff has been clear thanks to the many lessons learned, new contacts cultivated and the more in-depth understanding of how this industry operates. Did they know that this would be the case when they started with the Association? No, which makes the payoff even sweeter.

I encourage you to consider volunteering for these Networks, for yourself and for your colleagues. At very least, give it a try. It won’t take up a ton of time, but it will open up a world of opportunities.

Andy Drennan, FPSA SVP