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Produce Business

Deli Business

American Food & Ag Exporter

Cheese Connoisseur



Educational Entrepreneur Ed McLaughlin

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, January 28, 2009

Ed McLaughlin is well known in the food industry. As the director of the Cornell University Food industry Management Program, he also directs the Nestle-sponsored Food Executive Program. Furthermore, under the auspices of the Food Industry Management Program and under the directorship of William Drake, Director of Executive Education, Cornell University Food Industry Management Program, one also finds programs such as the National Association of Convenience Stores Executive Leadership Program, the National Grocers Association Executive Leadership Program and numerous International Programs.

Of course, Ed is especially well known for his involvement with fresh foods. We would like to say that this is because of the many columns he wrote for Pundit sister publication, DELI BUSINESS, some years ago:

Strategic Blueprint For Deli Success

Service Still Neglected?

Breaking The Barriers

Suppliers Playing Catch-Up

Distribution Changes Needed

Food System Choices

Back To “Supply & Demand”

Industry Structural Change

Store Visits Open Eyes

Interest In Prepared Food

Balance Of Power

Consumer Ennui

Or perhaps we could say it is because the Pundit did his first workshop at PMA in a joint appearance with Ed, when some research Ed did on the retail scene brought this column in Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS. The column so intrigued PMA’s Retail Board that they suggested a debate, though we wound up doing more of a joint appearance. Some would say the debate was more like elements of the Saturday Night Live parody of the “Point-Counterpoint” segment of 60 Minutes.

Alas, the Pundit can actually claim no role in Ed’s fame as he earned that all himself with exceptional research and teaching.

In the produce industry, he is well known as one of the fathers of PMA’s Leadership Symposium and as the designer and director of the United Fresh Produce Executive Development Program. This program is upcoming, and if you haven’t signed up either personally or to send someone from your organization, you really are missing out.

The Pundit has been honored to be a member of the faculty since the founding of this program and can personally attest to the incredible value any attendee can gain from spending a week on Cornell’s Ivy League campus, away from the day-to-day battles, focused solely on becoming a more effective executive. You can register for the program here.

What is not widely recognized about Ed McLaughlin, at least not in the food industry, is what an incredible educational entrepreneur Ed is. Cornell operates an Undergraduate Business Program, one of only two in the Ivy League, and Ed is the Director of the Undergraduate Business Program.

It is a relatively new program, first gaining accreditation in 2002. Yet by last year Business Week ranked the program as the 4th-ranked undergraduate business school in the country. We could poke a little fun as, of all people, when The Cornell Daily Sun ran an article on the achievement last March, it quoted the chair of the Undergraduate Business Program’s Advisory Council, who was pounding his chest about how many Cornell business grads were coming to work at his organization which happened to be… Lehman Brothers:

Tom Marino ’78, managing director at Lehman Brothers and chair of the Undergraduate Business Program’s Advisory Council, said that students from Cornell are “elite, not elitist.”

Attesting to the work ethic of Cornell students, Marino explained that at Cornell “you learn how to work hard,” so students that come from Cornell are as well-matched as any other students.

He sees the AEM program as a “broad-based educational experience” composed of “real world perspective, innovative teaching and leading-edge research and industry outreach.”

Marino also said that he is very proud that Cornell is “right at the top in terms of numbers of students coming to work at Lehman Brothers.”

Oh, well, you win some and lose some. The Cornell grads, of course, actually go to a wide variety of grad schools, work for a large variety of employers and start a wide variety of entrepreneurial ventures.

In fact, all these “rankings” are sort of artificial because the methodology used in these rankings is inherently arbitrary. There is no agreement on what criteria are most important for an undergraduate business school and thus no list can capture the nuances of all these programs.

It is also notable that schools move around these lists with shocking alacrity. Next edition, Cornell could move up or down the rankings, and the actual educational experience at any of these schools seems unlikely to change so quickly.

Still and all, to start an undergraduate business program and have it be ranked #4 in the country, even one building on a well established base in agriculture and having the advantages of Ivy League students and faculty, is a mighty achievement. That the man who has made much of this happen, Ed McLaughlin, is so closely affiliated with the produce industry is really something we should note and be proud of.

Consider it so noted.

Of course, Cornell being #4 in undergraduate business schools is a great achievement but, for many, the big news is that Cornell is now ranked #4 in Hockey.

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