Pundit’s Mailbag: Bruce Peterson Hits 'Nail On The Head' When It Comes To Retailers Hiring Credentials Over Experience
Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, May 12, 2015
Our piece, Bruce Peterson, Founder Of Wal-Mart Produce Program, Will Urge Industry To Rage Against Mediocrity, Value Experience Over Education, And Merchandise To Wow The Consumer At The London Produce Show And Conference, brought much response, including these letters:
There is a fundamental problem in that few retail CEOs came up through produce or perishables, so they are not always aware of the impact of hiring policies on the success or lack of success of the produce department.
Our society has become heavily weighted to a kind of “credentialism” that both blocks opportunities for individuals and results in less-than-optimal outcomes.
The problem is that organizations value people with degrees from top schools, not because of the value of what was learned there but because these school names are a kind of brand and they allow people ignorant of the substance of the matter to evaluate a law firm, accounting firm, investment opportunity, etc., by quickly seeing that this organization has hired a lot of smart people.
The problem is that selecting for high-prestige degrees is selecting for people who are good at the things that success in these schools demands. Those traits may or may not have much to do with success in the produce industry.
To some degree, this is all an outgrowth of the switch from predominantly privately-held supermarkets to predominantly publicly-held.
This inherently disadvantages produce, which is much more prone to wild fluctuations of price and supply than manufactured foods — fluctuations that disturb the market’s desire for steady increases in sales and profits.
This inherent issue is made worse by publicly-held companies that devalue produce experience in order to show investors a credentialed staff.
Many thanks to Chuck Sweeney, Tim York and Chuck Batcheller for weighing in on this important industry issue.