Gaining an edge on the roads to achievement The fifth Leading Edge convention attracted a record attendance of 400 delegates who gathered at the Commonwealth Institute in London. The convention's theme was In The Driving Seat', which inspired a day of presentations on personal development and management skills. Joanne Denney, chief executive of IGD, was interviewed by Clive Beddall, editor of The Grocer magazine, about driving the industry forward and how to attract bright, young recruits to the industry. David Foster, of Procter & Gamble, spoke on leadership skills and styles, exploring personal leadership and the differences between leadership and management. Kim Mawby's presentation was entitled Driven by the Desire to Learn in which she spoke from personal experience about taking control, making choices and formulating a personal strategy for success. Rob Knight, sales director of Pedigree Masterfoods, presented his top tips and building blocks for success and self-motivation. His key words were inspiration, aspiration, determination, perspiration, co-operation and communication. Bob Empson, of Smith & Williamson Management Consultants, spoke about efficient time management, urging delegates to identify what wastes time and to plan tasks around energy cycles. After lunch, Terry Gillard from McVitie's presented the awards for the Leading Edge Member of the Year. Nicki Johnson, from Manor Bakeries, took this year's honours, with Laura Sheard, of Four Square, in second place and Dale Mahoney, of Safeway, in third position. The afternoon session opened with advice on stress management from Sue Binks, an occupational psychologist with MaST, a training and consultancy organisation. Binks spoke about accepting situations that cannot be changed and gathering the determination to change what can be changed. Two sessions focusing on the customer, or consumer, followed. The first was by Graham Walker of Nestlé who spoke on the development of consumer-oriented categories, with the accent placed firmly on confectionery. Afterwards, the Harrods' view of excellence in customer service was put forward by Spencer Suckling, the area sales manager for Harrods' food halls. Julie Nicholls, McVitie's training and development manager, presented delegates with advice that would help them find their way if their careers ever came to a crossroads. She explored effective self-assessment of skills and ways to identify personal priorities at such a criticial time. She advocated identifying a career anchor ­ aspects of work that an individual would not give up under any circumstances. These could range from security, to challenge, to independence. The final session was led by guest speaker Penny Mallory, one of the world's top rally drivers and former national ladies champion. She is now a successful presenter, mainly known for her work on Channel 4's Driven'. However, life was not always so rosy, she told her audience. As a teenager she was homeless and lived on the streets. But she managed to earn enough to buy a lesson in rally driving and then set her sights on becoming a professional rally driver. Her talk proved a valuable lesson in placing faith in one's dreams and achieving them through hard work. {{LEADING EDGE }}