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PMA FIT Awards 1st Tip Murphy Scholarship: Michael Engeman
Of LaManna In Australia To Attend Leadership Symposium

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, December 9, 2008

We memorialized the passing of industry veteran Tip Murphy with a piece entitled, Tribute to Tip Murphy, and friends of Tip got together with the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent and formed a committee:

Tip served on the board of directors of PMA from 2005 to 2007 and the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent established the Tip Murphy Legacy Fund.

The official announcement of the fund will come at the PMA convention during the Saturday Morning General session where Tip will be honored. The gist was described by PMAFIT In a press release:

The goal of the fund is to build a permanent endowment of $250,000 by 2012 to fund scholarships in perpetuity, according to PMA FIT Executive Director Cindy Seel. A limited number of scholarships will be granted while the endowment is being raised.

Scholarships will enable recipients’ participation at current and future PMA and foundation leadership development programs, such as PMA’s annual Leadership Symposium. Scholarship applications will be reviewed by an advisory board now being established.

The Pundit was honored to be asked to serve on the advisory board along with Todd Melton of Chiquita, Scott Owens of Paramount Citrus, Bruce Peterson of Naturipe Farms, Bill Schuler of Castellini Company, Bob Spence of Ready Pac and Dick Spezzano of Spezzano Consulting Services. Tip’s widow, Gretchen, will be involved as well, and Dan’l Mackey Almy of DMA Solutions and the PMA FIT staff, especially PMA FIT’s Executive Director, Cindy Seel, have facilitated the effort.

Foundational grants were received from Castellini, Chiquita, Naturipe Farms, Paramount Citrus and Ready Pac.

Then the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent, which is the home of the newly established Tip Murphy Legacy Fund, made a call for scholarships applications, which we detailed in a piece entitled, Scholarships Available To Industry Through Tip Murphy Legacy Fund:

Recognizing that strong leaders drive the future of the produce industry, the Tip Murphy Scholarship for Leadership Excellence (TMSLE) supports emerging leaders by advancing their careers through development of leadership skills and is funded by the generous donations of supporters of the Tip Murphy Legacy Fund. The fund was created in 2008 to honor the life and career of Tip Murphy, a beloved 15 year veteran of the produce industry.

This new program covers the cost of registration and associated hotel expenses to ONE of a growing number of PMA and Foundation leadership events, including:

Leadership Symposium

Fresh Summit International Convention & Expo

Produce Solutions Conference

Foodservice Conference

For the 2009 year, one scholarship will be awarded.

Now we are pleased to announce that the ballots have been tallied, there were no hanging chads, and the committee has selected a candidate who demonstrates both how large and how small the produce industry is.

The winner of the very first Tip Murphy Scholarship for Leadership Excellence is Michael Engeman of La Manna Group Australia.

The fact that Michael hails from Melbourne demonstrates that, literally, people will travel half way across the world to attend high quality PMA events. Of course, Michael expressed concerns that mirror, almost perfectly, those of the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent:

I believe that people are such an important part of our industry, and with our aging population the industry needs to develop more effective ways of attracting and retaining them.

My leadership philosophy is empowering members within your team to get the best from within. By empowering members within your team you encourage them to ‘stretch’ themselves to achieve greater results which in turn will help the business achieve greater results also. As a younger, developing leader I need to fully understand my limitations and adapt my strengths and the strengths of others to achieve even greater things again.

One of my short term career goals is to undertake more external study to grow my knowledge in leadership. By gaining more knowledge on leadership from within the industry and also through selected mentors, I will eventually achieve my longer term goal of being able to successfully manage a separate business unit or stand alone business for LaManna or MG Marketing. I understand these goals are not easily achieved and will get harder as I eventually start having a family with whom I will also want to spend more time with.

However, the motivation that keeps me on track to achieving these goals is understanding there is more to learn everyday in and outside the food industry that will at some stage assist me in being one of the greater leaders within our industry. I also draw motivation from some of the current industry leaders who have helped change eating fresh food for the better, namely Rob Robson and Michael Simonetta.

Rob Robson was the first person from outside North America to serve on the Executive Committee of PMA — a point we profiled here. We also spoke with Rob about his own company, OneHarvest, right here.

Michael Simonetta is the founding Chairman of PMA’s Australia-New Zealand Country Council, which we highlighted here. We also discussed Michael’s company, Perfection Fresh Australia, with Michael right here.

Michael Engeman was a formidable candidate. With 15 years in the industry, he worked for Tip’s old company, Chiquita, for a decade, then Harvest Company, Tasfresh and, currently La Manna, where he is a Banana Category Manager.

He had the enthusiastic support of his Chief Executive Officer, Bernard Treacy:

Michael has now completed his first year in the LaManna Group and I have had the pleasure of seeing him establish himself in the role of National Category Manager for bananas with overall account responsibility for our largest customer. Michael also serves as a member of the senior leadership team for the group.

This past year has seen Michael grow in his professional capacity, and younger members of the group look to him for guidance and direction, which directly reflects on his manner and future leadership potential. During this year Michael has established strong relationships with his senior peers. He has challenged a number of paradigms in the business and led a key supply chain change with our key account.

It gives me pleasure to support Michael’s application for the Tip Murphy Scholarship. Not only is he a worthy recipient, he will also be an ambassador for other young produce professionals in the international market place.

Of course, if the fact that the award-winner of a PMA scholarship is an Aussie shows what a big world this produce industry has become, the fact that Michael’s CEO worked closely with Tip shows how small the industry is:

I am personally privileged to recommend Michael in honor of Tip’s leadership legacy. I worked with Tip over 7 years at Chiquita. During that time he mentored, challenged and critiqued my personal development. I am in no doubt that I have been enriched through Tip’s friendship and I am grateful for his tireless patience and commitment to leadership.

Bernard had joined Chiquita in 1998 in the United Kingdom and moved to Chiquita’s Cincinnati headquarters in 2000, where he worked in the marketing group leading category management initiatives… which meant that he spent a lot of time with Tip visiting customers and planning sales calls.

Then Bernie had a duel reporting role in the supply chain, which reported directly to Tip.

Finally, Bernie led the Wal-Mart team that was reporting to Tip.

Here is how Bernie explained the relationship:

“I had an office immediately next to Tip and spent many days with him eating shrimp stir fry for lunch followed by Starbucks in the afternoon.

Tip’s daughter Meagan also baby sat for us on occasion.

Tip was a great mate… we regularly talked by telephone long distance once I moved to Australia. I read your kind words with interest after we lost our dear friend.”

Michael acknowledged this connection, explaining:

“It would also be a special honour to receive this scholarship because it is endowed in honor of Tip Murphy, with whom my CEO worked and whom he called a friend. He also held Tip Murphy in the highest regard.”

Initially Michael was torn between events:

The event that I would most like to attend would be either the Leadership Symposium or Produce Solutions Conference 2009. After doing some research into the speakers, it would be great to hear what their thoughts are on topics that affect our industry. One of the more interesting topics would be the “empowering business culture” and/or “leveraging the individual strengths of a multi-generational talent pool.”

Both events are terrific but, in the end, Michael selected The Leadership Symposium, which will be held January 14 — 16, 2009 in Dallas, Texas.

We just profiled the event in our piece, PMA FIT Kicks Off New Year With Leadership Symposium, where we pointed out that this unique event — presented as a result of a partnership between the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent, Cornell University and PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine — offers a curriculum designed by Professor Edward McLaughlin, a world renowned authority on marketing and the Robert G. Tobin Professor of Marketing at Cornell.

It seems to us that if Michael is prepared to cross the Pacific Ocean and half of North America to attend the event, he is telling us a little something about the value of this program. There are still seats left, so why don’t we greet Michael with a full house?

You can learn about the speakers at this link.

Here is the schedule.

The back story is compelling.

The Leadership Symposium will be held January 14-16, 2009, at the Omni Dallas Park West in Dallas, Texas. Full information can be found here.

Registration is right here.

Michael, congratulations to you and to La Manna on winning this prestigious scholarship. We hope everyone else who entered will try again next year; this is just the first of many scholarships to come in Tip’s honor.

And Michael, we know many will want to extend a welcome to you in Dallas. Let us seize this moment to offer to buy you a drink in Tip’s honor. LSU is playing basketball against South Carolina on January 14th. We’ll just have to persuade a Texas bartender to find the channel. We suspect your CEO will understand.

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