Leading Edge Annual Conference: what you missed

Date : 03 October 2019

On 26th September we welcomed our biggest ever number of delegates to the Leading Edge Annual Conference in London for another jam-packed day of personal development, industry insight and networking. Here’s a recap of some of the best bits from the day!

After an introduction to the day by IGD chair Haidee, Mark from Accolade kicked off the day with a body percussion energiser session designed to open the mind and get everyone in the mood for learning.

Amongst lots of laughs and audience interaction, the message from the outset was clear; through collaboration we can create something amazing.


Unlocking personal impact

First up in the main programme was Ian Golding from Glow, teaching the audience the tips and techniques that actors use to become more confident, impactful and successful.

He started with a lesson on openness and body language, going on to discuss how people judge behaviours.

The two secrets of actors:

  1. people don’t see you, they see and judge your behaviour
  2. you become your behaviour 

What this means in a business situation is that you need your behaviour to work harder than normal. What’s your everyday setting, and when do you reach theatrical?


Achieving your goals

Jon framed his inspiring presentation around a huge goal that he achieved – losing over four stone in weight!  

Here are his 10 steps to achieving your goals:


Leading through uncertainty

Through her work with horses Jude Jennison helps leaders and teams create emotional resilience and human connection in a performance-driven world. Unfortunately we couldn’t bring her team of stallions with us to the QE2 Conference Centre, but the lessons Jude shared were just as powerful without them!

She began her session by discussing some of the reasons people and businesses might be feeling uncertainty, and the emotional responses it creates.

She then went on to share her framework for effective leadership in such times of uncertainty:

  1. Focus on what you can influence and be flexible and curious about everything else
  2. Instead of moving away from disagreement, stay with it and try to understand polarised views
  3. Drop the mask; vulnerability increases trust, and should be the starting point for any relationship
  4. Listen beyond words and seek to really understand others


How industry is embracing change

IGD’s James Walton covered some of the ways the food and grocery industry is embracing change framed around the STAR model. Developed by IGD, it describes the various macro-forces that are shaping the grocery agenda in the UK and worldwide.

Here’s just some of the thoughts James’ shared with the audience on these four forces of change.

  • Altering Authorities

UK citizens think that the ‘system’ is broken according to the Edelman trust barometer, and they expect businesses to lead on a broad social agenda spanning the environment to diversity to tax.

  • Transformative Technology

AI is already omni-present, influencing many aspects of our lives, and the speed and scale of technological advancement is a daunting social challenge. It has an impact on recruitment and careers, as well as things like data availability and use. It’s not going away, so we must learn to embrace technological change and make the most out of the opportunities it brings.

Source: World Robotics Presentation, IFR, September 2019

  • Societal shift

One powerful and topical societal shift is the move to plant-based lifestyles.

  • Resource resilience

It is well understood that current human demand exceeds the planet’s capacity by about 70%, and that’s expected to increase in the future as population and prosperity grow.

James ended his session by encouraging everyone to consider how industry continues to change, what the future opportunities are, and to think about how they, as individuals, can also ensure they’re keeping up with the pace of change.  



Steve’s session on networking was really interactive, getting the crowd up to practice some communication techniques, and sharing top tips like this one around connecting on LinkedIn:

Did you know that on LinkedIn you can see a list of everyone in your vicinity, enabling you to connect with them immediately?

Follow these steps!

1: In the LinkedIn app, click on the ‘network’ tab

2: In the bottom right, click on the icon featuring a person bust and plus sign

3: From here, click on ‘Find nearby’, ensuring your Bluetooth is turned on and you’ve allowed the LinkedIn app to use it

4: A list of LinkedIn contacts in your immediate vicinity will appear, allowing you to connect to them!


Inclusive leadership

Catherine Gillespie from Coca-Cola European Partners took some time to share CCEP’s journey to inclusiveness.

For them, an inclusive culture means empowering people to:

  • be themselves at work
  • feel valued for bringing their individual strengths
  • have a sense of belonging with the business - our people, brands, plans

Catherine’s tips for being more inclusive:

…ask yourself:

  • How can I make my team members feel respected and valued?
  • How can I keep the team members in the loop?
  • How can I give the team control and choices?
  • How can I make them feel like they belong?
  • How can I give them more credit and opportunities equally?



Jon Peach finished the day with a high-energy, inspirational session centred around what we need to remember to stay resilient in challenging times. He took us on a journey, exploring:

  • happiness and the impact it on people, and businesses
  • what impact others’ expectations have on our performance
  • why choosing positivity affects more than just our personal mindset

and much more.

To round off the day, Jon left us with this powerful video by spoken word artist Adam Roa. It hammers home the message that we, as individuals, have great power to affect change, and that our performance and happiness is only controlled by us. And that’s what our Conference is about. It’s a day of personal development and learning designed to help food and consumer goods industry employees be the best that they can be – for them and for the sector.

It should inspire and motivate our delegates to leave the room and return to their roles with a renewed sense of purpose and a boost in energy, and we think Jon and all of our speakers did just that!

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Across the day we also had multiple opoprtunities for people network, take photos, engage with us on social media and to test their creativity. Here are some pictures that caputure the real feel of the Conference. See if you can spot yourself, and if you didn’t make it on the day, well, we’ll see you next year!


Brick building to highlight collaboration for growth


Delegates having a great time!

If you took a selfie at our Conference, see if you can find your picture in our gallery here!

Learning doesn’t always mean just listening!