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About the Center for Retail Leadership

The Center for Retail Leadership Mission: To assist and support the retail, food, beverage and consumer products industry in adapting successfully to its increasingly competitive environment, through the delivery of high quality educational and research programs.

What Does The Center for Retail Leadership Offer?

The Center for Retail Leadership offers courses, programs, conferences, forums, seminars and internships to current industry employees as well as talented students interested in developing careers in food industry management. The Center also has a strong applied-research component that draws upon PSU faculty expertise in marketing, supply and logistics management, human resources, accounting, finance, information systems, and strategy. Custom-designed programs on or off site are also available to develop management and leadership tactics for responding to industry needs.

Center Objectives

  • To be a nationally renowned leadership resource for the food and consumer packaged goods industry.
  • To provide talented and well-prepared graduates seeking careers in the food and packaged goods industry.
  • To be a valuable strategic resource in meeting the educational and research needs of the food and consumer packaged goods industry.

What is Different About the PSU Center for Retail Leadership?

The center believes the interdependencies along the value chain, from grower to grocer, are a significant source of sustainable competitive advantage. While many other programs isolate certain segments, such as retailing or food technology, the center's focus is on the interrelationships among trading partners as they work to satisfy consumer needs and wants.

Dr. Tom Gillpatrick, Executive Director, explains, "Industry managers come to us to get additional strategic skills. Many of them have reached the top of a functional area—such as sales, distribution or research—but don't feel prepared for the challenges of general management. Now they're faced with putting together information systems and learning to deal more effectively with customers. With the help of the Center for Retail Leadership, these people become leaders who are equipped to think more broadly."

How the Center of Retail Leadership Came About

The center began in 1994 as a partnership between PSU's School of Business Administration and the industry. Visionary retail and packaged goods companies provided seed funding in order to realize their goal: To establish a world-class resource for recruiting and developing top management talent specific to the food industry.

All of the Center's activities continue to be developed in close collaboration with industry representatives. More than 140 companies—including food processors, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and brokers—have participated in the various executive programs. In addition, our industry advisory board meets quarterly to ensure that the programs meet the industry's needs.

An Active Executive Committee:

Distinguished CEOs and executives from leading firms volunteer their time and expertise to the Center for Retail Leadership, helping ensure that programs are current and relevant. CEOs such as Western Family's Ron King and Compli's Ken Thrasher aid the FILC in long-term strategy, financial planning, fundraising and development.

Industry-Led Advisory Board:

The Center for Retail Leadership also works in conjunction with an Advisory Board comprised of a skilled team of industry leaders representing a wide variety of industry interests. The Industry Advisory Board meets regularly with the program directors to assist with program development, fundraising and marketing. By providing an industry perspective, these individuals each contribute to the Center’s continued growth and success.

Companies Working with the Center for Retail Leadership:

Companies throughout the industry agree: Being involved with the Center is valuable.