LAS VEGAS — Networking mustn’t be overlooked; it’s a key element of holistic professional development.

One area where the greatest opportunities could live is through International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE)’s Student Immersion Program. It’s designed to help the industry’s freshest entries kickstart their careers, but it also gives companies an opportunity to connect with top talent coming out of universities.

“It’s a great opportunity for exhibitors to promote their companies to future employees and potential interns,” said Pippa O’Shea, education manager for American Bakers Association (ABA) and the Student Immersion Program lead. “These are highly motivated students from universities across the US, and this is an opportunity for mentors to teach them more about the industry and career paths they may not have been exposed to at school.”


It’s important to remember that networking is not a one- or even two-way street. Networking is multidirectional, and with so many segments of the industry — and specific disciplines inside them — attending the show, these opportunities can quickly become circular.

IBIE, to be held Sept. 17-21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is host to the commercial and retail sides of baking, but that’s not to assume the two are mutually exclusive. Information and inspiration can easily flow back-and-forth.

Retail bakers might feel overwhelmed when they walk onto the Baking Expo floor and see such huge equipment lines, but they can also walk in with a future-focused mentality. With so much M&A activity happening in the industry, smaller brands are finding investors that can inject capital into their business, fast-tracking them to the next level.


“If a retailer walks in with a mentality that an equipment vendor could be part of the next step, they could find the supplier they’ll need for special packaging, branding, ingredients and things like that,” said Bernadette Haas, executive director of the Retail Bakers of America (RBA), education partner for IBIE.

IBIE is a marquee event for retail bakers who can’t always travel for tradeshows. It’s their chance to see the broader baking industry all at once, which can be extremely eye-opening.

“They see how the larger operators are doing things and think of ways they can apply it at their shop,” Haas said. “They can walk out with tangible, feasible ideas that can be implemented ASAP.”


Haas also boasted the loyalty of the retail baking community. When a retail baker can meaningfully connect with a supplier, it can lead to business down the road.

Conversely, bakers and suppliers on the commercial side have a lot to glean from artisan and craft bakers as well. They’re often the ones at the forefront of innovation, and larger companies can find inspiration and identify cutting-edge consumer trends in areas like the Artisan Marketplace.

Education is never linear. Starting the Baking Expo experience a day early at IBIEducate on Sept. 17 is the first step to “baking in” a well-rounded professional development for the full IBIE experience.

This story has been adapted from the April | Q2 2022 issue of Commercial Baking. Read the full story in the digital edition here.

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