Changes @ GFSI
GFSI welcomes new Director
It’s a great pleasure for me to address the GFSI readership in my first month as newly appointed Director of GFSI. I'm very pleased with the great work the GFSI has done since its creation, and I'm excited to take it even further with you in 2015.
I am looking forward to bringing my 25 years of experience in the retail industry with expertise in quality, corporate social responsibility, crisis management, marketing and regulatory compliance - as well as food and non-food product safety, to the benefit of GFSI.
I am very familiar with the activities of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), having helped to found the CGF’s Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP) and playing an active role in the Sustainability Pillar. Through that collaboration I became familiar with GFSI, which is definitely a true example of how collaboration between retailers, manufacturers, food service companies, governments, international organisations and other key stakeholders may drive change at a global level.
I’ll be working with the team to drive forward the different programmes that GFSI is currently working on - Auditor Competence, Global Markets, Benchmarking and our collaboration with governments and key organisations, to ensure that we truly are collaborating across the industry to provide safer food for consumers everywhere.
Continuing with the harmonization of food safety standards must be top of the agenda for us as we seek to assure the right business environment to support companies involved in GFSI in their international expansion.
In the coming months I look forward to meeting many of you, and hope that you will be able to join the team and I in Kuala Lumpur for the 14th Global Food Safety Conference, our first event in Asia from 3 – 5th March 2015.
Director of GFSI
6 Years of Food Safety - 6 Questions for Jessica Wigram, Head of GFSI
1. How did you end up working in food safety?
I actually ended up working in food safety more or less by accident!
I was working in finance for an international law firm in Paris, and applied for the job 6 years ago supporting the GFSI Director at the time with the Working Groups and the management of the Initiative.
They were looking for someone with an international profile so I figured that being half English and half German, having grown up in the Philippines, studied in Scotland and ending up working in France qualified me for that part of the job description.
2. What drew you to GFSI? What has kept you here for 6 years?
I was drawn to GFSI by the non-competitive nature of our work.
When you are in a meeting with competitors from Pepsi and Coca-Cola, Carrefour and Walmart, McDonald’s and Yum! Brands, sitting next to each other and driving change collaboratively because they truly believe that food safety is non-competitive - it’s a pretty impressive forum to be involved with and a true privilege to support.
The fantastic projects that we are driving within the Technical Working Groups, the solid leadership of an excellent GFSI Board, and fantastic colleagues at The Consumer Goods Forum are what have kept me here for 6 years.
3. What are GFSI’s greatest achievements?
I think that one of the GFSI’s greatest achievements is its Global Markets Programme.
When the first manufacturing documents of this capacity building toolkit were published in 2011, we didn’t know to what extent the industry would pick up the Programme and use it. And now the Programme forms the basis of training being rolled out by companies, international organisations and governments all over the world! It was exciting to see how a project went from being a concern raised by GFSI’s Stakeholders (small suppliers cannot easily achieve certification against the GFSI recognized schemes), to a GFSI Working Group work item (mandated by the GFSI Board) to a global programme that is the foundation of many company’s strategic plans for small supplier development.
4. What do you consider to be GFSI’s greatest challenges?
In terms of the challenges facing GFSI, I would have to say that it is a victim of its own success!
There are worse problems to have than being successful, but as an open stakeholder Initiative supported by a small team, the rapid expansion of the interest in GFSI needs to be matched with the corresponding resources.
5. Where would you want GFSI to be in 10 years’ time?
Where do I start?
The sheer global support for GFSI opens up a world of opportunities in different regions, but I would say that a closer relationship with our stakeholders to address emerging issues will be key. If I were to answer this question from a perspective of where I hope GFSI will be – is it too ambitious to say that every supplier in the entire world will be certified against a GFSI recognized scheme??
6. What stands out to you as one of your greatest moments at GFSI?
Every Global Food Safety Conference!
The week is busy as there are Technical Working Group meetings, the Board meeting, the GFSI Stakeholder meeting and the conference itself but there is such a buzz in the air at that time of year. The hallways are filled with networking conversations, the conference room is full of anticipation regarding the world class speakers, and everyone is reunited around the common theme of making food safer for consumers all over the world. It’s really fun and a unique global forum for networking and collaboration.
I’ve been involved in Barcelona 2009, Washington DC 2010, London 2011, Orlando 2012, Barcelona 2013 and Anaheim 2014 and it just keeps getting better! All the best to the team for the event in Kuala Lumpur early next year and I will certainly be sending my best wishes from Vancouver.