Nearly 200 Coca-Cola employees came together last month to celebrate three decades of advancing women at the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) Annual Leadership Development Conference in Dallas. The immersive leadership development experience provided an opportunity for participants to connect with and learn from industry experts and each other, as well as gain tools for career advancement.

Acclaimed researcher and storyteller Brené Brown kicked off the four-day conference and celebration, which was packed with immersive workshops, leadership development sessions, and opportunities to build lifelong connections. Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York, closed with insights on how women can make a global impact and live purpose-driven lives.

“It’s a fantastic experience, especially for younger associates who aspire to leadership roles,” said Susan K. Miller, VP of inside sales and new business, Coca-Cola North America Foodservice and On-Premise (FSOP). “Being able to connect with industry leaders helps them bring new ways of thinking back to our organization.”

WFF Jim and Jesse

Jim Dinkins, president, Coca-Cola North America, was recognized as an Industry Titan for prioritizing the advancement of women at Coca-Cola and championing gender equity across the foodservice industry while Jesse Breidinger, senior manager, strategic solutions, FSOP, Coca-Cola North America was recognized as a Change Maker for leading the way as a role model for future leaders.

The Coca-Cola Company has supported WFF – which provides research, insights and best practices to help food companies recruit talent and drive business results by realizing the potential of women. WFF’s “LEAD THE WAY” initiative seeks to make the food industry the first to close the gender equity gap – a mission that aligns with Coca-Cola’s commitment to accelerate the advancement of female talent.

"As a leader in the foodservice industry, the women at Coca-Cola and the company as a whole have an important voice in the gender equity discussion and can be a powerful force in leading the way,” said Coca-Cola North America FSOP President Kathleen Ciaramello, who serves as treasurer for WFF.

We asked three Coca-Cola employees to reflect on their experience at previous WFF conferences:

“I learned how important leadership development is at Coca-Cola, and that I was supported as a female employee of The Company. In addition, I made connections with female executives from other companies, networks that I value to this day…Probably the biggest thing I take from WFF is the fact that leadership is gender agnostic. Be open to new ideas, share your learnings with others, and listen more than you talk.” – Marcy Mulvihill

 “Not only is WFF a tremendous organization designed to further the advancement of women in foodservice but it’s also an opportunity to gather leaders in this great industry. It was an amazing experience for me to make some connections with people I wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to meet.” – Lance Vannerson

“It was a great opportunity to connect with like-minded women in the industry. I really enjoyed the sessions centered around elevating personal leadership and how to leverage your strengths to drive better communication and efficiency on your immediate team and throughout the organization. I was most surprised by the diversity of topics and credible background of the presenters. I also appreciated the ability to network, connect and build friendships with women in various functions of the organization, where I may not have had that opportunity outside of this platform.” – Ingrid Smith-Coston