Baking Management’s 2010 influential 20
Recognizing the men and women who impacted the baking industry this year.
The Influential 20:
Steve Avera | Flowers Foods
Margaret Hamburg | Food and Drug Administration
Gary Gensler | Commodity Futures, Trading Commission
Michelle Obama | First Lady
Ilene Gordon | Corn Products International
Audrae Erickson | Corn Refiners Association
George Dunbar | Dunbar Systems
Nick Pyle | Independent Bakers Association
Robb MacKie | American Bakers Association
Bill McGowan | Caravan Ingredients
Cynthia Harriman | Oldways (Whole Grains Council)
Kirk O’Donnell| AIB International
Joel Crowder | Kroger
Kerwin Brown | BEMA
Judi Adams | Grain Foods Foundation, Wheat Foods Council
Daniel Servitje | Grupo Bimbo
Ken Newsome| AMF Bakery Systems
Howard (Robin) Alton III| Pan-O-Gold Baking Co.
Ric Jurgens | Hy-Vee
Rich Hoskins | Colborne Foodbotics
Back by popular demand, Baking Management’s Influential 20 issue examines some of the people who made a material impact on the baking industry in 2010. Some faces are familiar, others are new to the list, but each is deserving of recognition for helping shape the industry.
These individuals have various capacities, functions and affiliations, with list members representing baking companies, allied trades, organizations and government. Some people are mentioned because of their everyday work in the trenches of Washington, D.C., trying to enact policy changes that create a more robust business environment. Others are listed for the effects of their policies or ideas on baking, like Michelle Obama’s campaign to reduce childhood obesity. Some are recognized for their work in developing and bringing to market new and interesting baked products that keep the industry vibrant and fresh. And still others are listed because they partner with bakers in production by providing equipment, ingredients or other services to improve the industry.
The diversity reflected in this list helps illustrate that no single criterion was valued over any other in the selection process. Influence is an amorphous thing that isn’t easily quantifiable. But the members of this list wield undoubted influence over the business of baking, and use it in ways they believe are beneficial to the industry and the country.
The only common denominator among all the people listed is leadership–each is a leader in what they do, helping guide the industry forward.
Congratulations to all those acknowledged in this special feature on their well-deserved recognition.
ABA PAC Chairman and Flowers Foods, Executive Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel
With his work at Thomasville, Ga.- based Flowers Foods as executive vice president, secretary and general counsel, most people would expect Steve Avera to have his plate full. But Avera somehow finds the time to further serve the baking community in his role as chairman of the American Bakers Association (ABA) political action committee (PAC). Under Avera’s leadership, PAC backed the successful political campaigns of baking industry supporters Marco Rubio, Mark Kirk, Tim Walberg and Dennis Ross in the recent midterm elections. These candidates and others will ensure the interests of the baking industry have a voice at both the state and national level.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Chairman
When Gary Gensler was appointed head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 2009, industry watchers predicted the former Goldman Sachsman would be a chairman with little bark and even less bite. But to their surprise, Gensler is turning into one of the most ferocious financial reformers in the nation, implementing tough regulations that aim to clean up the futures markets. His bold actions have gained him many fans, especially in the baking world. In one of his biggest moves, Gensler established position limits for firms investing in wheat futures, curbing much of the excessive speculation that had led to volatile wheat prices and contributed to 2008’s infamous food shortages and riots.
With her stellar professional and educational background, it was obvious Michelle Obama wouldn’t be a First Lady who sat on the sidelines. And as predicted, she’s embraced a cause and poured her formidable energy into it, resulting in the creation of the Let’s Move! Campaign, a measure aimed at reducing childhood obesity within a generation.
“In the end, as First Lady, this isn’t just a policy issue for me,” she explained. “This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition.” The First Lady also secured the help of her husband, who formed the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to jumpstart the initiative.
Two years ago, Margaret Hamburg wasn’t a household name. But being appointed FDA Commissioner in May 2009 changed that, and her aggressive approach has put her name on the lips of many, at least in the baking community.
Hamburg is leading the FDA’s efforts to control sodium in foods, calling salt content a serious concern. “We absolutely see reducing salt in the diets of Americans as a very important health priority,” she told the Associated Press back in April. Hamburg also has food labels in her sights, declaring, “the limitations of the Nutrition Facts label have become clear.”
What Hamburg will eventually accomplish is unknown, but she’s made her intentions clear and it’s safe to assume the baking world won’t be left unchanged.
Corn Products International, C.E.O. and President
Corn Products International C.E.O. and President Ilene Gordon has only been with the company for 18 months, but her come-out-swinging approach has left none in doubt that she’s hit the ground running. Although Corn Products suffered an 85 percent drop in net income in 2009 compared to 2008 levels, Gordon’s hard work began to pay off in 2010. Q3 reports showed a nearly 20 percent increase in earnings per common share over the same period last year; this followed a 121 percent increase in Q2 and 159 percent increase in Q1. In August, the FTC gave the go-ahead for Corn Products’ acquisition of National Starch in a $1.3 billion transaction, paving the way for a combined company of 10,000 employees operating 37 manufacturing plants in 15 countries and sales offices in 29 countries.
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