FIM 15-Week Certificate Program

Spring Semester FIM 15-Week Program


Orientation: January 7 and 8, 2021

Program Dates: January 11 – April 28, 2021

Graduation Banquet:  April 28, 2021

WAFC Convention (Palm Desert, CALIFORNIA): May 1 - 5,  2021


The Spring Semester FIM program, along with the Western Association of Food Chains, Inc. brings together faculty, participants and teaching materials in a unique educational environment. In addition to the texts, lectures and discussions, the faculty utilize team projects, role-plays, group presentations, and teaching materials developed specifically for the food industry including special case studies. The curriculum integrates the functional areas of business with cutting-edge theory and practical application to help students understand how all of the pieces of an organization fit together and work dynamically.

FIM emphasizes:

  • An integrated curriculum designed specifically for the food industry emphasizing leadership, a rapidly changing business environment, global competition, strategic planning and analysis, financial management, decision making, managing change, new forms of competition, legal issues, executive communication and technology.
  • An outstanding and experienced faculty that blends traditional business disciplines with cutting-edge theory and practical application.
  • Classroom visits by senior food industry executives which provide top management perspectives on issues facing their executives, their companies and their industry.
  • Classroom visits by other executives at the forefront of developing and implementing technologies, business models and strategies that are shaping the food industry. Frequent luncheon round-tables with guest executives.
  • Field trips to see first-hand state of the art retail, distribution, and manufacturing facilities.
  • Exceptional participants from a diverse array of food industry companies working together in various teams to draw and build upon each other's skills and experience.

After 15 weeks at USC, your managers will return to your company with new ideas and new tools of management which will make them more effective in their positions, make your company more competitive, and help lead your company into the future.

Admissions Requirements

Click here for a full list of the prerequisites for the Spring Program.

Weekly Class Schedule

Classes are held each Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. Most afternoons are dedicated to group projects, management tours to food industry companies and lectures by food industry executives who visit the USC campus to discuss new developments, topical subjects, and management strategies.

Preparatory Sessions

During the first two weeks of classes, the program offers a series of afternoon tutorial sessions in basic accounting, Internet research and computer skills (spreadsheet design, presentation graphics, and word processing). These sessions are optional, but strongly recommended because all program courses require a basic level of proficiency in these areas.

Faculty and Industry Experts

1) Decision Making, Strategic Change and Technology's Role

"Developing strategies and tactics, and understanding the processes essential to making quality decisions and successfully implementing strategic change"
        Carl Voigt is a Professor of Clinical Management and Organization. He teaches business policy, competitive strategy, entrepreneurship and venture initiation, and global strategy and international management. Professor Voigt received his PhD from University of California, Los Angeles, MBA from Andrews University, and his BA from Pacific Union College.

2) Planning, Leadership and Management Priorities

"Achieving competitive advantages in a complex and changing business environment through strategic vision and leadership"
        Diane Badame is a Professor of Clinical Marketing. Professor Badame specializes in the fields of marketing management and customer satisfaction. She received her PhD in Physical Education from the University of Wisconsin, and her MBA from the University of Minnesota in Finance. 

3) Communications / Managing Change

"Developing effective and persuasive communication skills, as well as strategies for organizations to not only anticipate and adapt to change, but also to innovate and introduce change"
        Stacy Geck is an Associate Professor of Clinical Management Communication and is an expert in organizational communication effectiveness, intercultural communication, managerial communication (written, oral, and interpersonal), executive presence coaching, effective mentoring techniques, and is a certified facilitator for the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Her research has been published in the Journal of Cooperative Education, the Western Speech Communication Association, and the American Society of Trial Consultants. Outside of USC, she frequently works as an independent management consultant specializing in executive effectiveness and organizational change. She holds an MA and BA from Cal State Fullerton.

4) Financial  Management

"Understanding and using financial information to evaluate strategies and tactical alternatives, and assessing the impact of financial decisions on your organization"
Julia Plotts specializes in financial analysis and valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate finance. She is the author of several valuation case studies and contributed to Valuation: The Art and Science of Corporate Investment Decisions. Professor Plotts has been teaching corporate finance and financial analysis and valuation in the EMBA, GEMBA, MBA.PM, IBEAR, and undergraduate programs since 2002.

5) Leadership

“Inspiring confidence through lifelong learning, leaders learn more about themselves, sharpen their skills for effectively growing teams, and understand the role of a leader while growing the business”
      Cynthia McCloud is the Director, Food Industry Programs at USC Marshall.  McCloud studied Organizational Change and Leadership at USC’s Rossier’s School of Education where she completed her Doctorate in Education.  She is an Adjunct Professor and teaches the Leadership course in the FIM program. In the business world, she spent more than 40 years in the food industry where she held leadership roles at The Vons Companies, Catalina Marketing and in international roles with several start-ups as well

Industry Experts

Jim Lee, recently retired president and chief operating officer (COO) of Stater Bros. Markets, will join the faculty team for the USC Food Industry Management (FIM), a program produced in partnership with the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) for over 55 years. Lee, an alumnus of the FIM Program who also holds an MBA from USC Marshall, has more than 40 years of experience in the supermarket industry. Lee began his grocery career in 1972 with Ralphs Grocery Company in Southern California, where he was employed for 25 years. He is also a member of the advisory board of the City of Hope Food Industries Circle, a vice president on the Board of Directors for Topco Associates LLC, a past board member of the Food Marketing Institute and former trustee for the California Grocers Association Educational Foundation.

Oscar Gonzalez, FIM Executive of the Year 2020
USC Marshall presents the FIM Executive of the Year award to a food industry executive who has shown extraordinary leadership while producing exceptional business results. The FIM program has chosen to honor Oscar Gonzalez, Co-President of Northgate Gonzalez Markets, as the Food Industry Executive of the Year for 2020.