24th October 2011, 1:08pm
New course to cultivate next generation of food industry leaders
Professor Martin Hingley discusses food industry challenges A new executive programme designed to cultivate the next generation of food industry leaders has been launched at the University of Lincoln.

The Executive MBA for Food and Related Industries has been established to help food companies identify and develop talent in their ranks.

The aim is to produce individuals who have the knowledge, analytical skills and strategic insight to navigate the uncertainties and opportunities of the coming years in the global marketplace.

The new MBA has emerged from Lincoln's established expertise in executive development at Lincoln Business School and food sector education and research at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach.

It is aimed at early and mid-career managers who have been identified as having strong potential. It will be delivered to cohorts on block release from employers, supplemented with an innovative e-learning programme.

Phil Considine, Senior Lecturer in Lincoln Business School, said: "Part of our role as a university is to provide thought leadership and to facilitate knowledge exchange. The MBA is a great example of this - developing new leaders in the sector capable of delivering sustained competitive advantage built on the values of responsible futures."

The Executive MBA for Food and Related Industries was launched at a gathering of senior executives from major food sector employers held at the University of Lincoln's Business School on 19th October 2011.

The event was the inaugural meeting of the food Sector Knowledge Forum - a new group which aims to give senior industry figures a safe environment to debate challenges facing their businesses.

Delegates included senior staff from high-profile food companies including Bakkavor, Produce World, Princes and QV Foods. Combined turnover of all the organisations represented was more than 8bn.

The topic was 'future-proofing your business' and the discussion covered many of the current and emerging issues affecting the food industry - from the dangers of making assumptions about consumer behaviour, to the continual challenge of managing relationships between suppliers and retailers. Rising commodity prices, public perception of GM crops and the spectre of climate change were also among the many issues debated.

Professor Martin Hingley, Professor of Strategic Marketing in Lincoln Business School, said: "The debate was extremely lively and insightful, covering a whole range of issues affecting the sector, from day-to-day operational problems to long-term global trends. The discussion was very candid and speakers did not pull any punches but there was also a strong note of optimism. The food sector has a long and proud record of rising to challenges."

Speakers included Brian Stein, Chief Executive of Samworth Brothers Limited, and Andrew Fearne, Professor of Food Marketing & Supply Chain Management at the University of Kent.

The keynote was delivered by Lord Haskins of Skidby, founder and former Chairman of Northern Foods and now a cross bench member of the House of Lords.

Lord Haskins said universities had an important role to play in tackling the challenges facing the food sector.

He said: "The alliance between government, business and science is a crucial one. Government can only do so much - its job is to create an environment for good research and good business practice to happen. Scientists and intellectual strategists' job is to meet the long-term needs of the industry and businesses' job is to give consumers what they want."

For more information on the Executive MBA for Food and Related Industries or the Food Sector Knowledge Forum, contact Veronica Cini at the University of Lincoln on: vcini@lincoln.ac.uk
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