I had the chance to chat on May 28 with Julie Krivanek, founder and president of Krivanek Consulting, Inc., Denver, Colo.
2:15 p.m. Tom Karst: When you started your consulting business after your career at Amoco, when did your first produce client show up? What were first impressions of the industry?
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2:16 p.m. Julie Krivanek: I started my business like most startups. I hacked around a little bit. I started with a collection of services and industries. My beginning was focused functionally on leadership, strategy, executive coaching, the businesses I worked with focused on high tech and communications. Then, in 1994, I was hired by now United Fresh to be their first speaker to class one of their United Dupont leadership program. And so if you wind back time, that was day one of exposure in the produce industry. At that time it was just another client and just another engagement. But people in that class were some of my very first clients and United was one of my very first clients; not just for that program, but for their strategic planning process. I can just tell you, for a person that does business planning, I didn’t plan the best thing that ever happened to my business. I think it is sort of ironic and hysterical but that’s what ended up happening. So this summer I will be in Seattle speaking to class 16 of the United leadership program. That was the seed of my love affair with the produce industry.
2:13 p.m. Karst: Is help in strategic planning what most of your clients are looking for?
2:14 p.m. Krivanek: It is. In this incarnation of Krivanek Consulting, strategic planning is about 75% of what I do and I work maybe 90% of my time in the fresh produce industry. I often get a call for other things, but I will urge companies to start with a strategic business plan. People will say, “Come in and create a succession plan.” I ask who is succeeding whom for what purpose.
Companies can jump into a marketing plan or jump on something that is the latest and greatest leadership thing, but they kind of float around. It is my very firm conviction that once a business plan and strategic direction is in place, agreed upon, analyzed, decided, communicated, implemented and shared, everything else follows.