FMI 2016 Asset Protection Conference Off to a Great Start in Tucson

As the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) 2016 Asset Protection Conference got under way in Tucson on Tuesday, Scott Ziter, chairman for the FMI Asset Protection Council and director of asset protection for Golub Corporation / Price Chopper, welcomed the group to Tucson. After leading with some kind words about Rhett Asher, former vice president of asset protection, data security and crisis management for FMI, and his contribution to FMI over the past years, Scott confirmed that FMI Asset Protection plans to continue the conference’s current vision of Thinking Differently.

Tuesday morning’s keynote presentation that kicked off this year’s conference didn’t disappoint. Jeff Havens offered a different perspective on leadership based on the concept of “being a tyrant.” He took many of the common behaviors in the workplace, using them to display the worst leadership practices. His unique sense of humor and insight to leadership practices seemed to support creating a culture of fear and mistrust. After an hour of interesting commentary on subjects like when micromanagement is a good idea or how to unleash your inner tyrant, Jeff flipped the switch to talk about supportive leaders, building a positive culture, and avoiding the demoralizing behavior that can often be experienced in the workplace.

With over 50 retailers in attendance this year, the exhibit hall was buzzing Tuesday afternoon during the lunch break and exhibit hours. After lunch, a joint panel of FMI conference attendees discussed best practices to create synergies amongst business partners. Panel members included not only Loss Prevention professionals but also Internal Audit and Financial Executive professionals. Each member stressed that each company is going to function differently but that the structure and resourcing should be designed to create a holistic approach. Whether it is ensuring data is shared or stored in a central data warehouse, the sharing of analysts between departments, or creating multi-functional task forces to ensure all departments remain in constant contact – it has to be collaborative and each area has to have the same goal in mind to effect change.

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Libby Christman of Ahold responded to a key question many have been challenged with – “How do you respond to the ‘do more with less’ strategy to ensure long term success?” She felt that it was important not to do more with less, but rather be smarter and more calculated with what you currently do. You won’t be able to do more store walks with the same amount of people but you can be more strategic about the stores you walk or the issues you tackle to get the best results. Be sure to target specific areas or stores to effect change.

A special roundtable discussion was next on the agenda, helping to un-jumble the Alphabet Soup of Certifications. Taking many of the common certifications in the industry, moderators Walter Palmer and Kathleen Smith helped define them and clarify the key topics covered within the different certifications. Reinforcement was given that each certification focuses on specific areas and it’s important to understand where you would like to be to determine which of the certifications can support you in the journey. One of the key points was that certifications and continuing education may not always result in promotions or monetary compensation, but showing the initiative to learn and accomplishing your goals are all indicators to your organization that you take your career seriously and want to grow and develop.

The day ended on a bit of a high note. Aside from the ending reception, the last session of the day was focused on Thinking INSIDE the Box. While this may seem to contradict the “Think Different” theme – Illusionist and Puzzle Expert David Kwong used illusions and puzzles to help show that boundaries and constraints can often help you with solutions. Parameters force us to be clever and push the envelope within the boundaries we already know and develop new takes on old themes. So the next time you decide to Blue Sky a process and have trouble getting started, try adding-in some of the real-life parameters in order to help with your creativity and think within the box to flex your creativity.

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