Grabbing the headlines Having spent a few days writing the presentation, Jon Woolven of IGD came to meet us in York a week before the conference. His feedback was positive, and it was encouraging to know that IGD were confident for us to devise the format of the presentation and choose our own style. With BBC TV broadcaster and news reader Michael Buerk as the conference host, we came up with the scenario of a news team double act. The survey results had headline questions, followed up by stories, newspaper headlines and ending in an ­And Finally summary. The day before the conference we attended rehearsals and were given top tips from IGD's media team. The evening before, we all joined Clive Beddall, editor of The Grocer, and Joanne Denney, chief executive of IGD, for a meal and drinks. It was a great opportunity to get to know people and to discuss many of the industry issues. By noon the following day our time had come. With our host speaker Michael Buerk in mind, our headline statements rang out to news gongs. This appeared to wake the audience up if nothing else! Based on the survey results, our headline questions looked at the profile of young managers in the industry, their satisfaction levels, and their future plans. In terms of profile, the majority of members responding to the survey were graduates under 30 and, on average, had worked in the industry for five years. The average salary was £30,500 and 55% of respondents were women. General career satisfaction levels were shown to be high, but there were issues with training and working hours. Only 15% believed they would have left the industry for another in five years time while the proportion who expected to be working with the same company was 27%. After the presentation, we were joined on stage by two other Leading Edge members, Anna Chopra from Budgens and Duncan Edwards from Waitrose. Clive Beddall asked us a number of questions based on the results of the survey and about other industry issues. One early question was about the high turnover of staff within the food industry. While we all pledged allegiance to our companies, there were some good suggestions to companies on how to retain employees. These included recognition for performance and training, and the provision of opportunities for those keen to broaden their experience. Working hours was another hot topic, but the panel believed discontent was not confined to the industry, but went throughout the UK culture generally. However, the 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week nature of retailing, and the pace of change, were seen as adding to the time pressures. More flexible working practices were used as an example where the disruptive effects of long hours could be reduced. Another hotly debated topic was the way the media "battered" the industry and thoughts were exchanged on whether individual companies had a duty to promote more positive stories about the food and grocery industry, or whether they should be co-ordinated centrally. And after it was all done and dusted, we were in the limelight again, being interviewed by national newspapers, along with Sarah Dowding from Leading Edge. We then spoke to leading representatives of the industry and the day's host, Michael Buerk. And finally, now, we've been given the chance to write our story in The Grocer. Great value! n {{LEADING EDGE }}