BERLIN — In a packed room at Fruit Logistica, the first Global Women’s Network event was full of conversation of shared concerns and aspirations for women in the international fresh produce business.
“At the end of the day, we’re talking about the same issues, even though we come from different countries and different cultures,” Rocio Aguilar, senior export manager for Altar Produce, Calexico, Calif., said at the Feb. 8 event.
Viviane Schappo, Monica Bratuti and Julie Escobar organized the event, billed as the first network event for women in the produce industry at Fruit Logistica. Escobar is vice president of Sun World International, Bakersfield, Calif., Bratuti is president of Turners International Marketing, Auckland, New Zealand, and Schappo is Latin American manager for Robinson Fresh, Eden Prairie, Minn.
Moderated by Maura Maxwell, Latin America editor of Fruitnet, London, the event featured a panel with Aguilar, Linda Carobbi, corporate director for Italy-based Savino del Bene, Florence, Italy, Michelle Masek, head of marketing for Apeel Sciences, Goleta, Calif., Ebby Loo, managing director of the Kuala Lamupur, Malaysia-based Euro Atlantic Group, and Laura Dellinger of Portland, Ore.-based Wisebridge.
The panelists briefly told the stories of their careers, and several shared the keys to their success.
“I would say integrity is the key for success — thinking, speaking and delivering the same thing,” Aguilar said.
Authenticity at work is essential, Masek said.
“We spend a majority of our time in work and to be able to integrate who you are in and outside of work — I think it is a very important thing to do,” she said.
Masek said she was raised in a family where she didn’t see boundaries or limits for women, but said women in male-dominated companies may have to work a little harder than men to get ahead.
Panelists said that women, as they assume senior management roles, should help lead corporate efforts to eliminate salary discrimination between men and women and create opportunities for talented employees of both genders.
Dellinger said the networking event brought together women in a community that can influence the way produce industry companies operate.
“This kind of coming together is essential,” she said.
Bratuti said organizers would gather feedback from attendees about Fruit Logistica and plan for the next Global Women’s Network event, likely at the Sept. 4-6 Fruit Logistica Hong Kong.