Whether you are in a team meeting at the office, having a one-on-one meeting with your boss, or enjoying dinner with the family, everyone wants to feel heard. And there are few things more frustrating than when you have something to say or have the courage to verbalize a concern, and you feel like no one is listening, or worse yet, feel outright ignored. Unfortunately, we’ve all been there.
In the challenging and constantly changing business environment we work in today, it is more important than ever for companies—large and small—and organizations like IFT to make a conscious effort to not only hear, but actively listen to the ideas and opinions of its constituents. You never know where the next breakthrough or transformative idea will come from.
At IFT, we believe it is critically important to get to know our members. We want to know who you are, where you are in your career, what challenges you face, and what keeps you up at night. Perhaps most importantly, we want to know how we can ease the burdens you carry and help position you for career growth and success. That’s why we make it a point to ask questions, and really listen to what you have to say.
One thing we’ve consistently heard over the last few years is that our digital presence was in serious need of a makeover. After many months of planning, writing, building, and testing, our redesigned website launched to critical acclaim in September. While we are pleased with the positive response thus far, this is just the beginning of our digital transformation efforts. Among the enhancements on the horizon are a completely reinvented online community for networking and knowledge sharing, a new mobile app, and the integration of artificial intelligence technologies to provide a more personalized content experience, to name a few. We are excited to put these technologies in place, as they will enable us to provide you with relevant information to help keep you inspired and allow you to perform your job better.
Another thing we’ve heard centers around the IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo. While our industry-leading event consistently gets high marks as the most valuable IFT program for networking, learning, and staying on top of what’s next in the industry, more than a few of you think it’s time to shake things up. We agree! I’m excited to share that changes are in store for our Annual Event, starting with IFT20. You will be challenged to shift the way you view the science of food and what’s possible for the future. It will inspire you to think differently and walk away with actionable ideas, while still giving you ample time to converse and connect with peers. And our expo floor will be bigger and better than ever, so there will be plenty of opportunities to make strategic connections and advance your business goals. Plus, our new approach will enable us to continue the scientific learning and conversations long after we’ve returned to our offices. I am excited to experience IFT20, and I hope what I’ve shared thus far excites you, too.
While we are grateful for all the people—more than 1,200 in total—who currently volunteer their time in our sections, divisions, student association and chapters, task forces, work groups, journals, magazine, and of course our board of directors, we’ve also heard that many more are interested in volunteering but don’t know how. Our Inclusive Systems Review Task Force heard a similar sentiment during their discovery process. We are currently examining the processes in place to inform members about volunteer opportunities. We are also determining how we can better articulate the time commitment, requirements, and expectations of different opportunities in hopes that more people will be able to get involved and share their knowledge and expertise in the manner that suits them best.
To those of you who have taken the time to complete our surveys over the years, thank you. We know not everyone can complete every survey, and there is a time commitment involved, but I hope you can see that we do use the information gathered to understand and improve your experience. Your opinion truly matters to us.
We will never achieve our mission if we can’t meet the needs of those of you working in the trenches to solve the food industry’s biggest challenges. So whether it’s a one-off conversation with a board member or a formal survey, when we say we are actively working to get to know our members, understand your challenges, and provide solutions that better meet your needs, please know that we mean it. And if there’s anything IFT can do to further improve your experience, please know I am just an email away.