Elisa Giusti -- Director of Marketing, Wholesome Harvest Baking

Tagged in Leadership Manufacturer Members

Share a story about your first job in foodservice.
Technically, my first job in foodservice was as a waitress my first year at university (something I think should be a rite of passage for every single person). My first shift on the floor was a Friday night. We were in full-on, waitlist mode, I had been "triple sat" and the family of six that had been waiting a whole 4 minutes and 24 seconds for their spinach and artichoke dip was getting a bit disgruntled with  me... I ran back into the kitchen, and not so kindly asked why my ticket wasn't up yet? What I got next was a grin, followed by a headshake.... 3 minutes and 15 seconds (aka 2 hrs front-of-house time) later, my plate got tossed up into the window, and I heard it loud and clear when I got back to my table. Two lessons still very applicable to my career today were realized: 1. You need to know how to manage people's expectations.
2. When you talk to a restaurant's "back of the house," know what you are talking about… because if  you don't, be prepared to be tuned right out.

What is your industry passion?
I thrive whenever I allow a goal to become my muse, allowing creativity to be the leading resource. I've learned that creativity can be the most useful of assets when one would least expect it to be. It brings to a situation, lenses that are rarely used. I have found this to be one the biggest factors of my success in creating meaningful and lasting relationships, not only with colleges but customers as well. Whether it is through the lanes of innovation or continuous self/organizational improvement, it has always allowed me to grow and continuously stay driven to do and be more.

What is your advice to a person new to the industry? 
Listen, A LOT. There is so much to learn, but at the same time, use that objective and outside viewpoint that you bring by being new. Keep it that way as long as you can, because the best changes are made from those who bring an idea to the table that is outside of "the way we have always done it."

How does being an IFMA member benefit you?
It has been a source of education as well as a forum to which I have been able to meet and make key relationships within our industry.

IFMA featured members are selected based on their accomplishments in the food industry. Recognized as leaders, they are the people moving the industry forward with big ideas and even bigger goals. Know someone who fits the bill? Tell us.

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Nov 06

Presidents Conference

The IFMA Presidents Conference is the place “Where Leaders Meet.” The 54th annual premier top-to-top forum, co-hosted by the NRA and IFDA, brings together influential leaders of foodservice from the operator, manufacturer and distributor communities.

Mike Villano, VP/GM Foodservice, Basic American Foods

Mike Villano is no stranger to hard work. After getting his start in foodservice managing seafood restaurants in Manhattan, he learned quickly what types of challenges operators face on a daily basis. This foundational knowledge and his "no shortcuts" approach helps him ensure Basic American Foods' customers thrive in the restaurant business. Get to know him.

Michael Cannon, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Surlean Foods

Managing the growth and development of the sales, marketing and R&D teams at Surlean Foods is quite the task, but somehow Michael finds time to help shape many of IFMA's programs. His motto, "Don't let 'perfect' get in the way of 'better'" helps him stay on task and continuously seek improvement. Get to know him.

Erin Buntin, Director, Foodservice Sales, Schreiber Foods

In Erin Buntin's current role at Schreiber Foods, she is charged with being "customer obsessed", which means she leads the company's field sales team to build strategies and business plans that focus on exceeding customers expectations and of course, selling more cases profitably. When her friends ask her what she does, she simply replies "I am changing the world one slice of cheese at a time." Get to know her.

Joe Bybel -- Senior VP, Marketing and R&D, Ventura Foods

Maintaining a strong work ethic and keeping an eye on the details are two key traits needed for success in foodservice, according to Joe Bybel of Ventura Foods. In addition, Joe believes providing simpler and more natural products will continue to be a top priority needed to meet complex consumer demands. Get to know him.

Jim Clough, President, AdvancePierre Foods

Jim believes that when he and his colleagues do their job right, their customers will embrace AdvancePierre Foods as a company they want to do business with. He also believes that profitable foodservice distributors are good for the industry.  He advises those who are new to foodservice to have a passion for the industry. Get to know him.

Robert A. Corscadden, VP Marketing & Innovation U.S. Specialty Channels, Kellogg Company

Bob notes that one of the greatest innovations in foodservice over the past decade is reality food shows, which have turned cooking into drama and competition. People are now learning about foods and ingredients they never knew existed and are challenging operators to provide dishes that mirror what they see on TV. Get to know him.

Jay Crown -- Director of Trade Strategy & Business Insights, Rich Products Corporation

Jay asserts that in 2020, Foodservice will be moving faster than ever. Be it around adoption of trends, flavors and ingredients. The key difference will be how operators learn about them and the speed in which they are adopted. Get to know him

Richard Ferranti, Executive VP and COO, Rich Products

"Why not?" is a simple question that has opened up a world of opportunity for Richard Ferranti. From establishing businesses in emerging markets like China, Brazil and India to leading the North American business for Rich Products, he's a foodservice guru with all the right stuff. Get to know him.

Mads Houlberg, President, Unilever Food Solution

As president of Unilever Food Solutions, Mads Houlberg considers himself the leader of an entrepreneurial team and company. He is passionate about giving foodservice professionals a chance to build their careers. He believes social media is extremely important to the industry. Get to know him.

Ben Shanley, Vice President Distributor Development, Coca-Cola Refreshments USA

If there's one word to describe Ben Shanley it's "optimistic." He has spent 29 years with Coca-Cola reinforcing the brand's mission to refresh the world and inspire moments of optimism. Ben also views the future of foodservice with an optimistic lens, recognizing the industry's importance for U.S. employment and career growth. Get to know him.