LAS VEGAS The American Bakers Association (ABA) (Booth No. WL2) will host a conversation on leading companies in an environment of accelerated change during its NextGenBaker Leadership Forum on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m. in the West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, Room 326. The baking industry was forced to pivot quickly since IBIE 2019, and this conversation with executives in the commercial baking industry aims to provide guidance and perspective to up-and-coming leaders in the industry.

Attendees will hear from Cordia Harrington, chief executive officer and founder, Crown Bakeries; Paul Bakus, president, North America, Puratos; A. Ryals McMullian, president and CEO, Flowers Foods; and Tyson Yu, CEO, Aspire Bakeries. They will discuss how they have approached attracting and retaining top talent, building and maintaining high-performance teams, and encouraging a culture of innovation and community.

“The mission of NextGenBaker is to develop the rising leaders in the baking industry and give them the tools to succeed,” said Lili Economakis, co-chair of NextGenBaker and division vice president, customer development non-commercial, Aspire Bakeries. “The insights this panel of industry leaders will bring to the table will definitely help foster the goals of what NextGenBaker is trying to achieve.”

The topics around building teams, adapting to change and fostering culture reflect the major challenges commercial bakers face today. NextGenBaker offers a forum to hear from leaders in the industry as the conversations around these challenges continue.

“We’ve had these discussions in peer-to-peer virtual roundtables and in-person events about communicating through change, the acceleration of change and the culture required to attract and retain workers,” said Christina Donnelly, director, industry relations and strategic initiatives, ABA. “But it is so valuable for our rising leaders to hear directly from these accomplished executives and understand how they’re addressing these issues in their own companies.”

The panelists for the Leadership Forum have all guided their companies through the COVID-19 pandemic, recent supply chain issues and the current labor challenges. As Ms. Economakis pointed out, the industry looks completely differently since IBIE 2019.

“We’ll hear about how they came into the industry, where they came from and where they are today,” she said. “It’s a different environment since when they started in the industry. Nothing is the same from supply chain to labor to transportation, so it will be interesting to hear how that affects them and the way they’ve pivoted.”

Through the panel discussion, ABA hopes to send attendees home with insights and lessons they can put into practice at their companies immediately. Not only does NextGenBaker aim to create stronger leaders in the baking industry, but it also strives to create stronger baking companies as a result.

“All of the topics we’ll be discussing are central to the overall health of a company and team performance,” said Campbell Williams, co-chair of NextGenBaker and co-president, B.C. Williams Bakery Service and BCW Food Products. “They can directly impact business performance. It will be insightful to hear and learn from the panelists’ perspectives on these critical issues.”

At IBIE 2019, the NextGenBaker Leadership Forum focused on leading multi-generational workforces. With today’s labor challenges, this year’s forum will build on that conversation by exploring leading successful teams and culture.

“The workforce conversation isn’t new, and it’s not going away,” Ms. Donnelly said. “But the conversation is shifting in terms of the topics we can bring forth for rising executives: the tools they need to lead their teams, what’s changing in terms of technology and the company culture expectations of the workforce. How do we equip them with the ability to manage that new environment? I’m confident this conversation will provide them with new insights on these topics that they can take back to their companies.”

Attendees of the Leadership Forum will also have the opportunity to network with fellow baking industry executives at a cocktail reception before the panel begins. Tickets may be purchased online at or at the ABA booth in the West Hall, Booth No. WL2.