Our first Women in Produce event of the new decade will feature three dynamic presenters: Michèle MacMillan, Director of National Accounts at Thomas Fresh Inc., Lesley Sykes, Executive Vice President at The Sykes Company, and Julie Dickson Olmstead, Managing Director and Public Affairs at Save-On-Foods.
The panel will discuss current trends in the produce sector, changes facing the industry and challenges for 2020. Following the program, join us for a networking reception to engage with fellow professionals in the sector.
Details are as follows:
Date: Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Time: 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Location: Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel
Address: 7551 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC, V6X 1A3
This event is free for all CPMA and BC PMA members, but registration is required.
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Learn more about our speakers:
Michèle has spent the past 37 years in multiple roles including operations management and category/procurement management across the retail landscape, working with two major Canadian grocery retailers. The last role she held was the position of Director of Private Label Procurement for bakery/deli/home meal replacement/produce/grocery non-food at Sobeys.
Michèle has since moved on to the selling side of the produce industry when she joined Thomas Fresh Inc. in July of 2018 as their Director of National Accounts. In this role, she works with the national retailers to build programs for the commodity and ethnic produce parts of the business.
Michèle has been involved with the produce industry for nine years and held a position on the CPMA Board of Directors from 2010 to 2018. She also sits on several of its committees. Along with the activities noted above in 2018, Michèle became involved with the CPMA Passion for Produce program, an education and mentoring program to assist young professionals actively working in the produce industry.
Michèle’s community involvement has included participating in Habitat for Humanity projects, sitting on the Board of the Mississauga Food Bank for several years and, for the last 10 years, cycling in the Ride for Heart, raising $110,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Lesley Sykes is a third-generation entrepreneur in the fresh produce industry, with over 10 years’ experience in procurement and market differentiation strategy. Her commitment to innovation has contributed to her success in her current role as Vice President of her family’s produce import business in Arizona. Lesley was born into fresh produce in Nogales and jumpstarted her career in the industry after graduating with a master’s degree in agricultural and environmental science and policy from Tufts University.
Prior to her role at her family’s business, Lesley was manager of SCS Global Services’ sustainable agriculture verification program, working with international grower-shippers on their growing practices and marketing strategy. Before joining SCS, she provided market research and business development consulting services to growers and marketers in Arizona and Central America. She also worked for the Massachusetts-based non-profit organization, Red Tomato, supporting the development of fresh produce responsible sourcing initiatives to support its network of regional growers.
Julie Dickson Olmstead
With nearly three decades of business management, strategy development and integrated marketing communications experience to her credit, Julie Dickson Olmstead is a seasoned executive with a strong track record of success across a number of sectors and disciplines.
Today, as the Managing Director of Public Affairs and Corporate Services for Save-On-Foods LP, Julie holds responsibility for public affairs, corporate responsibility, government and industry relations and strategic planning for sustainability, zero waste and environmental leadership projects at Canada's largest privately-held Western-based retail grocery chain. In addition to her past work in the agency, not-for-profit and public sectors, Julie has extensive experience participating in board committees, governance and multi-faceted projects involving varying combinations of stakeholder groups.
Currently, in addition to participating in a wide range of strategic food industry initiatives and cross-sectoral projects, Julie is the co-chair of the Multi-Material Stewardship Western Advisory Committee and a member of the board of directors of Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba, Food Banks BC, Encorp Pacific and Canada’s National Zero Waste Council.
An accomplished presenter and accredited adult educator, Julie is a long-standing member of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS). She has developed content for and hosted lectures, workshops, seminars and university courses on effective media relations, community engagement, internal communications strategy, issues and crisis management, reputation management, business management and social media. She has acted as OFG’s official company spokesperson and has been a member of OFG’s Emergency Response and Business Continuity Team for over a decade.
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