conference agenda

Please download the PDF version of the full program and schedule.
Please keep in mind, the event programming is subject to change. Check frequently for updates!

Here’s a list of 2018 GMA Leadership Forum attendees.

Be sure to plan early to connect with long-time colleagues or make a note of individuals you’d like to meet this year.

day 1 agenda



Conference Registration and Dinner Desk

7:00AM - 5:00PM


2019 GMA Collaborative Planning Session (By Invitation)

11:00AM - 1:30PM


GMA Partner Power Connect Program

12:00PM - 5:00PM

Returning in 2018 due to its continued success, GMA member companies have the chance to meet one-on-one with some of the industry’s leading service and solution providers during a 45-minute exchange session. This is a phenomenal opportunity for both participants to understand respective goals and resources to better align capabilities with innovation.


Participating companies include:


Accenture Acosta Sales & Marketing Advantage Group
Cognizant Ecolab IRI
Label Insight LoyaltyOne Myrtle Consulting
Nielsen RSi (Retail Solutions Inc.) Sonoco Products


To secure your appointments with these companies, please contact Andrew Coffey at and let him know that your organization would like to participate in the Partner Power Connect sessions.


GMA Finance and Audit Committee Meeting (Committee Members Only)

12:00PM - 2:00PM


GMA Industry Affairs Council Meeting (Council Members Only)

1:30PM - 4:00PM


GMA Government Affairs Council Meeting (Council Members Only)

2:00PM - 4:00PM

2:15 PM

GMA Executive Committee Meeting (Committee Members Only)

2:15 PM - 4:00PM


GMA Sales Committee Meeting (Committee Members Only)

2:30PM - 6:00PM


GMA Board of Directors Meeting: Food & Beverage Products (Board Members Only)

4:15PM - 5:30PM


GMA Board of Directors Meeting: Personal Care & Household Products (Board Members Only)

4:15PM - 5:30PM


GMA Board of Directors Dinner (Board Members Only)

6:00PM - 9:00PM

day 2 agenda



Conference Registration and Dinner Desk

7:00AM - 5:00PM


GMA Board of Directors Meeting (Board Members Only)

8:00AM - 9:15AM


GMA Partner Power Connect Program

8:00AM - 4:00PM


GMA Emerging Leaders Program (By Invitation)

8:00AM - 12:00PM


GMA Chief Financial Officers Committee Meeting (Committee Members Only)

9:00AM - 1:00PM


Trading Partner Alliance (TPA) Meeting (TPA Members Only)

9:30AM - 11:00AM


GMA Information Systems Committee Meeting (Committee Members Only)

10:00AM - 4:00PM


GMA Advisory Council Meeting (Council Members Only)

11:00AM - 1:00PM


GMA Manufacturer CEO Leadership Forum & Lunch (By Invitation)

11:15AM - 3:00PM


GMA Retailer CEO Leadership Forum & Lunch (By Invitation)

11:15AM - 1:00PM


GMA Marketplace Forum

12:30PM - 3:30PM

Sponsored by: Slice Intelligence


Several retailers and channels of distribution will have the opportunity to share their strategies and collaboration opportunities with attendees in an intimate setting.


Lowes Foods, LLC

Founded in 1954, Lowes Foods employs approximately 9,000 people and operates nearly 100 full-service supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Locally owned and operated, Lowes Foods is truly a homegrown company committed to bringing community back to the table, by providing customers with the freshest and most innovative local products from local suppliers. The company maintains a strong focus on exceptional attention to our guests, with services like Lowes Foods-To-Go personal shopping and gas rewards discounts. To learn more, visit or follow Lowes Foods on Facebook or Twitter. Lowes Foods, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alex Lee, Inc.



Tim Lowe, President, Lowes Foods, LLC


More Retailers to be Announced!


GMA Opening Keynote Session

4:00PM - 5:00PM

Lessons of Innovation: How Breakthrough Leaders Thrive in the Age of Flux

Featuring: Robert Safian, Founder of The Flux Group, Managing Editor – Fast Company, Time, Fortune, Money


Robert Safian unlocks the key lessons of what makes breakthrough businesses stand apart in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace.  He shares his firsthand experience with the likes of Apple, Starbucks, and Under Armour, offering insights on today’s most innovative companies. He shows how companies can thrive, even in tough times, by embracing the power of innovative ideas and creative execution.


In a talk that draws on the research for his highly-anticipated forthcoming book, Robert Safian—who coined the phrase Generation Flux – he shares examples of Flux Leaders at all levels who are reinventing business, connecting the diverse perspectives of big-brand CEOs, upstart entrepreneurs, and the creative thinkers who power today’s innovation economy.


GMA Keynote Signature Series & GMA Hall of Achievement Award Presentation

5:00PM - 6:15PM

CONNECT with Kroger

Sponsored by: Nielsen

Featuring: Rodney McMullen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Kroger Co.


The grocery landscape is rapidly evolving, Kroger is working to meet changing customer demands.

Rodney McMullen is driving that change. He took the reins at Kroger in 2013, and the company has continued to excel, gaining market share, actively engaging with consumers and strengthening relationships with suppliers.

During the 2018 GMA Leadership Forum, Rodney will connect with the GMA community, share his outlook on the future of retail, discuss Kroger’s growth strategies, and offer his insights on how CPG manufacturers can work even closer with the leading retailer.


GMA Hall of Achievement Award Presentation


The GMA community will recognize two industry icons with the prestigious GMA Hall of Achievement Award.  The 2018 recipients are:


Fred MorganthallFred’s no-nonsense approach and impeccable standards helped shape the retail and grocery manufacturing industry into what it is today. He started at Spartan Stores in Michigan, and joined Harris Teeter in 1986 as Director of Grocery Merchandising. He served as Vice President of Merchandising, Vice President of Distribution, and Vice President of Operations before ultimately being named President in 1997. After Harris Teeter merged with Kroger in 2014, Fred served as Vice President and later as Executive Vice President.


Irene RosenfeldIrene has been a trailblazer in the food industry. She led some of the most iconic consumer brands through times of major transition and is one of the first women to serve on the GMA board in a leadership role. Irene began serving as CEO of Kraft Foods in 2008 and became Chairman in 2007. With the spin-off of Kraft’s North American grocery operations, Irene in 2012 launched Mondelez International, now a pre-eminent global leader in the chocolate, biscuits, gum and candy industry.


Opening Reception – Featuring a Taste of Colorado

6:15PM - 7:15PM


GMA CEO Leadership Forum & Emerging Leaders Dinner (By Invitation)

7:00PM - 9:00PM

Day 3 Agenda

Friday, August 17


Conference Registration

6:30AM - 5:00PM


Dinner Desk

6:30AM - 1:00PM


Good Morning GMA!

7:30AM - 9:15AM

Daymond John’s 5 Shark Points: Fundamentals for success in business and life

Sponsored by: PwC

Featuring: Daymond John, Founder/CEO of FUBU, Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, Star of ABC’s Shark Tank and CEO of The Shark Group


Daymond John has been a phenomenally successful business person for over 25 years. Along his entrepreneurial journey, through his many successes as well as failures, he has learned a few things about getting the best out of business and life. He believes the keys to his success include establishing the right mindset and following a few fundamental principles, which he calls his five “S.H.A.R.K points.”


Get ready! Daymond John is going to share his unique goal-setting and achievement strategies, which will empower audience members to make positive changes in every aspect of their lives.


The Zone - Powered by GMA

9:15AM - 11:05AM

On stage. Four simultaneous experiences. One goal… connect you with our industry’s top knowledge partners while engaging in thought-provoking, fresh content.


GMA Executive Leadership Tracks

11:15AM - 12:00PM

What the Health! How Consumer Ways of Eating in the Natural Space are Changing the Landscape of Grocery Retail

The natural foods industry has doubled in sales in the past 10 years, driven by an increased consumer interest in the health, environmental, and community impact of the products they buy. As food tribes like Paleo, Plant Based Eating, Whole 30, FODMAP move from specialized to mainstream, they bring with them a complex set of decision criteria that are guiding consumer choices at shelf. Retailers and manufacturers are working harder than ever to keep up with the evolving needs of their current and future shoppers and as a result, the balance of power is shifting away from big business and back to the consumer. In this environment, brands will be successful if they can identify developing consumer needs as they emerge, find products that fill the needs, and take action nimbly.

Session attendees can expect: A no-holds-barred discussion bringing together the full spectrum of retail from consumer to retailer, the challenges and opportunities; A first-hand understanding of the consumer perspective, from a dynamic Paleo influencer; Purview into how to leverage analytics to discern consumer needs as they emerge; Applicable insight into how manufacturers and retailers are leveraging analytics to identify and cater to consumer needs within their portfolio and categories.



Molly Hjelm, Vice President of Marketing, SPINS, LLC



George Bryant, New York Times Best Selling Author, Paleo Influencer

Jason Burke, Chief Executive Officer, The New Primal

Shawn Gensch, Chief Marketing Officer, Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc.


Digital Divide: The Disconnect Between What Consumers Expect and How CPGs Invest

We are at an inflection point where advances in technology, data, and connectivity are disrupting how consumers shop and what they buy.  Simply stated, digital influences over half of grocery sales today and impactful digital engagement increases both consumer loyalty and spend. However, realizing the potential of digital is not easy and many CPGs are not prioritizing investments in a manner that helps. In this session, we will provide perspectives on how CPGs can use digital to drive sustainable growth through actions like harnessing consumer-focused analytics, driving real-time personalization in partnership with retailers and shifting to more programmatic trade spend. We will bring these ideas to life with a panel of CPG and non-CPG executives, including leaders from retail and technology companies. These leaders will share how they have embraced the power of digital by investing across the entire path to purchase in interactive consumer experiences, agile operations, new talent models and a range of ecosystem partnerships.


The Growing Water Scarcity Challenge – And Why CEOs Need to Take Action to Sustain Business Growth

According to the United Nations, by the year 2030, the world will need 40 percent more water than we currently have. That shortfall will have a transformative impact on global industry. But most companies don’t understand the full value of water as a material business asset and regard water as cheap and accessible.  The reality is that companies in every business sector need to have a water action plan in place now to avoid major issues in the future.

Forward-thinking companies are taking action, developing partnerships and employing new technologies to help save and reuse water. New thinking and innovative tools can help save resources, while still driving business growth.

This session will cover water trends and review new ways to assess risk and target action. New tools, technology and data analysis approaches that enable safe and reliable water reduction and reuse will be discussed. Executives from outside the CPG industry will share how they evaluate and manage water risks at their organizations to sustain business growth.


The Barbell Effect and What it Means for the Future of Retail and Your Brand

Today’s retail and brand landscape is increasingly one of extremes. Whether it is the endless aisle of growing marketplaces contrasted with the highly curated assortment of hard discounters, or the rise of the indie brand slowly stealing share from the well-established incumbent, consumers are increasingly migrating in different directions. To make matters more confusing, at times even the same consumer will have dramatically different preferences depending on the category or mission. We will share the results of KPMG’s consumer grocery survey to share how consumers are cross-shopping different types of retailers, the key drivers of on-line shopping and preferences for shopping. Retailers are expected to respond to these changing preferences in a variety of ways. We will explore likely moves in the industry from consolidation to new services to changes in supply chain. The session will culminate in a panel discussion with a mix of grocery retail executives as well as executives from other consumer industries that have experienced a similar consumer behavior changes in an even more pronounced way and the perspective of a PE firm on the market in general.



Katherine Black, Consumer & Retail Strategy Lead, KPMG, LLP



Yael Cosset, Chief Digital Officer, The Kroger Company

Nital Scott, Chief Financial Officer, Beautycounter

Mark Belford, Consumer & Retail Corporate Finance Lead, KPMG, LPP


GMA Leadership Luncheon & GMA CPG Award Presentation

12:00PM - 1:00PM


GMA Keynote Signature Series

1:00PM - 2:15PM


GMA Executive Leadership Tracks

2:30PM - 3:15PM

Price Wars & Margin Compression: The New Battlefront between Retailers & CPGs

The Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods has accelerated the timeline for CPGs to figure out their online and omni-channel grocery strategy. Unfortunately, CPGs are seeing huge pricing and margin compression due to aggressive retail pricing, promotion, and vendor management tactics. How can CPGs navigate towards profitable growth riding the wave of eCommerce and Amazon? This session will explore the right metrics for CPGs to measure online profitability. Our speakers will offer expert perspectives, frameworks and best practices to optimize profits through levers including sales and cost optimization, marketing performance, shipping and more.


A Clear Perspective on Clean Labeling

Clean labeling and product transparency are increasingly important to consumers. In fact, recent Nielsen and Label Insight research found that 39% of U.S. consumers say they would switch from the brands they currently buy to others that provide clearer, more accurate product information. Previously thought to be reserved for small upstarts, transparency has become the calling card for fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers of all sizes trying to capture growth. And there’s a lot the industry can learn from companies that have built their brands on a platform of transparency. Session attendees can expect an engaging discussion on the current state of clean labeling with founders of companies that are leading with transparency.



Mathew Franken, Chief Executive Officer, Aunt Fannie’s
John Kreilich, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Naked Bacon Company


Operators and Innovators: How Digital is Creating a Paradigm Shift in Leaders and Talent

The results of a large, global meta-study suggest that out of all industries, CPG and retail are least prepared to compete in the digital age. Accordingly, the digital journey is challenging these sectors to select, develop, and empower a dramatically different new breed of leaders and talent – and deploy them in dramatically changed ways. Data suggests meaningful gaps between the behavioral profile of even the best retail/CPG leaders and digital transformation executives. Under this rubric, operational brilliance is no longer enough – and in fact, organizations are increasingly trading off the traits they once sought for a new bundle of attributes centering on agility and the ability to navigate through ambiguity.  In practical terms, this means organizations are changing the very way they look at talent, with profound shifts across hiring, development, and succession…but also organizational structure and the very construction of jobs.  We’ll explore how this new “digital people lens” is driving a host of decisions across the short, medium, and long term – and what challenges organizations have grappled with as they go on this difficult but ultimately rewarding journey toward a more digital future.



Melissa Swift, Global Digital Solutions Leader, Korn Ferry International

Thomas Wrobleski, Senior Partner, Global Account Lead, Korn Ferry International



Andrea Albright, Vice President of Home Office Human Resources, Walmart Inc.

Reginaldo Ecclissato, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Americas, Unilever

Rick McDonald, Vice President of Global Operations, The Clorox Company



Applying Data Analytics to Drive Profitability in Digital Commerce through Optimization of the Merchandising, Supply Chain and CRM Functions

While the death of traditional grocery retail has been exaggerated after Amazon’s arrival in the space, there’s no challenging that this disruption is demanding that brick and mortar retailers up their game. So, who’s successfully doing what to stay competitive in the new omnichannel reality?

In this session, two retailers will share how the application of data analytics is helping them embrace the challenges of omni-commerce. They’ll offer perspectives on the opportunities that exist for retailers and manufacturers to collaborate for omni-commerce success.

Tim Lowe, president of Lowes Foods will share how this innovative retailer (think in-store Beer Den), is re-thinking strategies throughout the organization to compete in the post-Amazon era. He will review the use of data analytics and insights to 1) improve the omni-channel shopping experience, 2) meet shopper expectations regarding personalization and 3) enhance loyalty and engagement across channels.

Peter Whitsett, EVP of Merchandising and Marketing at Meijer, will discuss how retailers are employing data analytics to craft new merchandising strategies aimed at enhancing profitability. He will spotlight unique opportunities to use data to 1) personalize in-store and online product selection, 2) improve on-shelf position, 3) reduce out-of-stocks, and 4) improve supply chain efficiency.
Peter and Tim will be joined by Craig Rosenblum of Inmar, who will discuss insights from Inmar’s research on how traditional grocery retailers are evolving their business models to address changing shopper behavior, and how this is affecting organizational strategies across merchandising, marketing, operations and supply chain functions.



Craig Rosenblum, Senior Director, Business Development – Enterprise Retail Sales, Inmar



Tim Lowe, President, Lowes Foods, LLC

Peter Whitsett, Executive Vice President, Merchandising, Meijer, Inc.


GMA Keynote Signature Series

3:30PM - 4:15PM

Navigating the Crashing Waves of Both Globalism and Nationalism

Sponsored by: Inmar


Nigel Farage, Co-founder of the UK Independence Party and Brexit Campaigner

Vicente Fox, Former President of Mexico

Expanded immigration vs higher barriers to immigration. Expansion of multinational trade deals vs tariffs to protect a country’s products. Globalism vs nationalism.


How do CPG companies navigate these two vastly different views of the world economy, with some countries endorsing one and other countries aligning with the opposite view? Are there any areas of consensus? Is there a course for businesses to safety navigate through these turbulent economic and political waters?


The 2018 GMA Leadership Forum will feature a fascinating debate on this issue between two world leaders: Vincente Fox, who served as Mexico’s president from 2000 to 2006, and Nigel Farage, who led of the campaign for “Brexit” – Great Britain’s exit from the European Union – as the leader of the United Kingdom’s Independence Party. Each is outspoken – and provocative – in their views of the world and the best course forward.


GMA CEO Business Roundtable

4:15PM - 5:00PM

Sponsored by: Accenture 



Joy Peters, Managing Director, Accenture



Steve Bratspies, Chief Merchandising Officer, Walmart U.S.

Robert Cantwell, President and Chief Executive Officer, B&G Foods, Inc.

James Dinkins, President, Coca-Cola North America, The Coca-Cola Company

Jeffrey Harmening, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, General Mills, Inc.

Akshay Jagdale, Managing Director, Jefferies Financial Group Inc.

Kathleen Walters, Executive Vice President & Group President, Consumer Products, Georgia-Pacific LLC



The CEO Roundtable at the 2018 GMA Leadership Forum will feature insights of top CPG leaders and market research on whether brands still matter in the time of major industry disruption.  This not-to-be-missed session will discuss joint market research by Accenture Strategy and Jefferies Equity Research that shows that brands still do matter, but companies must do the work to win back and win over consumers if they want to win the market share.  Top industry leaders will then connect the dots between this research and the realities of the challenges they and their companies are facing every day.


GMA President and CEO Address

5:00PM - 5:30PM

Connect with GMA’s new President and Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Freeman.  Hear his vision and strategy for the future of GMA and the direction for our industry.


Sunset Reception

6:00PM - 7:00PM

Sponsored by: Ecolab


Chairman’s Celebration: A Toast to the Future

7:15PM - 9:30PM

Sponsored by: IRI

day 4 Agenda

Saturday, August 18th


Continental Breakfast

8:00AM - 8:30AM



8:30AM - 10:30AM

Some of the industry’s hottest topics and initiatives will be covered and attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions about trade policy, SmartLabel, bioengineered ingredient regulation, and more.

GMA Partner Power Connect Program

Returning in 2018 due to its continued success, GMA member companies have the chance to meet one-on-one with some of the industry’s leading service and solution providers during a 45-minute exchange session. This is a phenomenal opportunity for both participants to understand respective goals and resources to better align capabilities with innovation.


Participating companies include:


Accenture Acosta Sales & Marketing Advantage Group
Cognizant Ecolab IRI
Label Insight LoyaltyOne Myrtle Consulting
Nielsen RSi (Retail Solutions Inc.) Sonoco Products


To secure your appointments with these companies, please contact Andrew Coffey at and let him know that your organization would like to participate in the Partner Power Connect sessions.