When Jane Proctor opened the door to the Canadian Produce Marketing Association office in 1985 to begin a job as a temporary receptionist, she didn’t expect to still be opening figurative doors for the industry in 2013.
Proctor, 52, began her career with the CPMA 18 years ago as a part-time receptionist during the summer, thinking the post would be temporary. Middle school children had made her doubt using her teaching degree, but Proctor had no produce background. However, she found attraction to the industry was contagious.
“You can’t work with (former CPMA president) Danny Dempster and Stephen Whitney and not develop a passion for the industry,” she said.
Not long after joining CPMA, Proctor became administrative assistant to the national director of promotions for the Fresh for Flavour Foundation. In 1994, when the CPMA took over the Reach for It campaign, Proctor weaved Fresh for Flavour into CPMA’s mandate.
Proctor also has had posts with CPMA as marketing coordinator, information technology manager, director of industry technology and standardization, and lead staff for CPMA on the Produce Traceability Initiative.
“Jane has touched every aspect of the organization,” CPMA president Ron Lemaire said. “Her growth and development over those years has truly made her an industry leader, and not only on the domestic level but also the global level.”
With her ascension at CPMA, Proctor has also helped carved a path forward for women entering the produce industry, Lemaire said.
Proctor has worked tirelessly to standardize processes that help make the industry more efficient, said Gary Fleming, vice president of strategic services for RedLine Solutions Inc., Santa Clara, Calif.
Her efforts extend beyond Canada and made a big difference in the efficiencies marketers have gained, Fleming said.
Proctor, now vice president for policy and issue management for the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and The Packer’s 2013 Canadian Produce Woman of the Year, said her work at CPMA began in marketing and extended to promotion, and then to regulatory affairs and technology.
That progression took a big learning curve, Proctor said, and she is still learning every day.
With the regulatory outlook changing in the U.S. and Canada, Proctor said she enjoys creating forums for people to come together and communicate.
Industry and government officials also require opportunities to exchange information, she said.
“We believe we have been very successful in creating platform for government agencies to speak to each other,” she said.
Too often, those agencies — even within the same government — fail to communicate.
Proctor said she believes cooperation between North American trade associations is at its peak and will continue to evolve.