Int'l Supermarket Management Class Wraps Up Successful Week

May 10, 2023

The world of grocery retail is constantly evolving, with new technologies, consumer trends, and industry innovations emerging every year. To stay ahead of the game, industry professionals need to continuously improve their skills and knowledge. That's why the International Supermarket Management Class (ISMC) is such a crucial event for supermarket owners, managers, and supervisors.

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IGA Coca-Cola Institute's premier annual learning event returned to in-person classes on May 1, 2023 at The Coca-Cola Company headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The event brought together grocery professionals from six countries in a unique 5-day class that blended group activities and sessions from industry experts.

Over the past 15 years, the ISMC has become renowned for its ability to provide attendees with actionable insights and practical strategies that they can implement in their businesses immediately. Whether you're a seasoned supermarket veteran or a rising star in the industry, this event was an unmissable opportunity to expand knowledge, network with peers from around the world, and take one's grocery retail game to the next level.

Paulo Goelzer, president & CEO of the IGA Coca-Cola Institute, served as the emcee of this year's event and led some of the classes. He deemed ISMC 2023 a resounding success. 

"Attending the International Supermarket Management Class is crucial for any aspiring leader in the retail industry. And after two years of remote learning, the value of in-person classes cannot be overstated. It is in the physical classroom that we build connections, exchange ideas, and foster a deeper understanding of the subject matter,” Goelzer said. "This was the most engaging group we've ever had."

"We appreciate your contributions and time with us, and we hope you left with useful and valuable ideas," he wrote to the alumni in a follow-up letter. "Based on your positive response, we deemed the class a big success."

Retailer attendees ranged from one staff member to entire store teams that went to learn together. Jared Wright, SVP CEO of Massy Stores in Barbados, attended the class with five of his staff members. 

"The class was amazing! I believe it allowed for a deep dive into best practice supermarket retailing and provided me with a great perspective on how to lead my team to be best in class, especially being new in my role," Wright said. "There were equal parts supermarket operations and commercial strategy and equal parts leadership. And this deeply resonated with me as, I believe, regardless to the industry…leadership is a precursor to excellence in any field. I definitely recommend this class to other retailers who are looking for a structured way to get new team members up to speed quickly or have more experienced team members get a refresher of what retailing excellence looks like."

Attendees were highly engaged, asking insightful questions to the industry experts. They also shared their best practices on certain topics, like category merchandising, leadership, and employee retention. Students regularly broke into groups to exchange ideas with other retailers as well as within their own teams. Regardless of their store location, attendees learned they share many of the same pain points as local retailers. 

"I appreciated the sharing with other retailers to see their struggles and whether they are similar or different from ours as a company," said Zack McLamb, maintenance technician at North Carolina-based Carlie C's IGA. "Also being able to share knowledge of current and changing marketplaces and strategies. It was a great team building experience where we got ideas and data to discuss so we can implement in our current system. It also showed areas where we were doing the right things and areas we may need to be more attentive."

"We all feel as if our woes are unique to us, but it was interesting to see that we all have similar versions of the same struggle; despite being from different parts of the world as far flung apart as Alaska to Puerto Rico to Turks and Caicos to Barbados. Learning from others who have walked the same roads before was invaluable as it moved the learning from being solely theoretical to being very real and very practical," Wright added. "Being there with members of my team allowed us to synthesize new ideas and come back to our business with significantly more momentum than if one person only had bought into the new vision."   

Towards the end of ISMC, there was a Cinco de Mayo Happy Hour in the Coca Cola Backyard where attendees got to enjoy games, drinks, food, and music.

IMG_5458Paulo Goelzer, President & CEO of the IGA Coca Cola Institute speaks during his "Leading by Example is Not Optional" session at ISMC. Scroll to bottom of the article for more photos.

Class alumni received a certificate of completion for the 5-day advanced course in retail strategy, leadership, people management, best practices and trends for supermarket and department operations.

The Sessions

There were 24 sessions featuring 22 speakers covering industry best practices and trends on subjects, including the below. 

Want more details on key sessions? Look to The IGA Minute in the coming weeks.

Speaker Organization Topic
John Ross IGA Inc. Positioning For Retail Success
Bill Alford Circle the Wagons International Lighthouse Group, Inc. Loss Prevention
Elina Brager Newell Brands Category Management/Signature Items
Richard J George, Ph.D Haub School of Business, St. Joseph’s University Effective Events & Advertising
Russ Greenlaw Associated Grocer of New England (AGNE)  U.S Retail Landscape: Retail Insights
Peter Cooke Ratio Institute $15k in 15 min - Find easy, no cost opportunities to maximize profits
John Abbene BRdata Software Solutions  Independent Insights
Kyle Summer Millennium Digital Technologies Cybersecurity Essentials for Grocery Store Managers: Protecting Your Business
Doon Wintz LearnNatural (The Run-A-Ton Group) Natural & Organics: Listening to the Voice of the Natural Consumer
Rick Findlay Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin How to make your Deli a Destination!
Eric Anderson AR Marketing Monetizing Your Social Media Presence
Sarah Rivers IGA Inc. Digital Marketing & eCommerce: Trends & Case Studies
Jon Hauptman Price Dimensions Supermarket Pricing
Jim Wisner Wisner Marketing What’s Now. What’s New. What’s Next. Driving Success with In-store Bakery
Joe Himmelheber Caito Foods Service, Inc Produce-ing Excellence
Bret Kramer QStream Retrieval & Retention
Robert Buonomano Bob's Windham IGA Creating a unique shopping experience in your meat department
Doris L Martin, Ph.D Garfunkel Wild, P.C. Human Resources and People Management
Looking Ahead to 2024
ISMC is already scheduled for next year, 2024, from April 22 to April 26 at the Coca-Cola Company headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The Institute will put in an extra effort to make the next class even more insightful and enjoyable. For more information on the online classes available at the IGA Coca-Cola Institute, click here.

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