Fragoso Were it not for a brutal Indiana snow storm, the fresh produce industry may never have heard of Emily Fragoso, a young, rising star in marketing.
It was just such a winter storm that was the last straw for her parents, who elected to abandon the Midwest in favor of sunny California. It was a fortuitous relocation for Fragoso, who now is the newly named director of business development for the South Pasadena, Calif.-based consulting firm, Status Gro.
Since graduating from Cal State-Fullerton in 2001, Fragoso’s career has been on a distinctly upward path. Having worked part time during her college years coordinating a variety of events for the city of Brea, Calif., Fragoso planned a relaxing postgraduation summer.
Those plans came to an abrupt halt when Fragoso interviewed for a marketing position with the La Mirada, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council. The job was hers before the end of the day.
“It was a great fit,” Fragoso said, while admitting her exposure to fresh produce had been limited to the family table.
That table offered a bit of a fresh produce primer because of Fragoso’s parents’ mixed ethnic background: her father is Thai, her mother is Polish. The members of the FPFC provided even more fresh produce tutoring.
“Everyone is wonderful,” Fragoso said. “You can learn so much. They’re all willing to wrap their arms around you and give you a ton of tips.”
Those tutors have become lifelong friends, she said.
“They are what has kept me in the fresh produce industry,” Fragoso said.
Among those tutor/friends who were particularly helpful, she said, was Jack Gyben, vice president of Progressive Produce Corp., Commerce, Calif.
As a member of the board of directors, Gyben worked closely with Fragoso during her years with the FPFC, he said.
“Emily is full of energy and ideas,” Gyben said. “We were very happy to have her represent the entire fresh produce industry.”
At the turn of the century, Fragoso was aware that she was entering an industry that was dominated by men, but an industry in which more and more women were capturing prominent positions. Those emerging women were role models for Fragoso.
“When you see other female leaders, it kept me motivated as I saw wonderful examples, and they showed me that I could forge my own way,” Fragoso said.
Among the women who Fragoso sought to emulate was Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, Irvine. The two have worked on assorted projects over the years. DeLyser was impressed.