Association Insight
Rob Grimes, CEO & President, IFBTA 

What are your goals as the President of IFBTA?

The IFBTA has several short-term and longer-term goals that the board and I are focused on right now. The main focus right now, and through 2017, is the continued establishment of the local chapters and the alliances with organizations at the local, regional and national level like the SHFM where we can cooperate by providing food and beverage technology expertise, education and networking in support of the industry. Creating content and opportunities to get-together with others from the operator and supplier communities that are interested in technology within the industry on a regular basis at both at local and national events are prime initiatives in support of our overall goals.
Are there any new benefits or features IFBTA has introduced lately?

We introduce 10 white papers a year and are bringing “live” an industry certification program to help our members become recognized for a level of expertise and achievement in food and beverage technology within their organizations and amongst their peers. The connections with other allied organizations like SHFM are a new benefit for our members, allowing them to share information with related groups and be able to "take home" expertise to their operations. It also offers each group the ability to bring additional members of their organizations into the shared-knowledge of how technology impacts and enables products and services for their management, employees and customers.
What is a common challenge within your industry?

The number of technology applications and amount of hardware that is available to the food and beverage industries creates both a challenge and opportunity for operators and suppliers alike. The ability to leverage consumer technologies and new ways of moving forward with the “internet of things” (IoT), “software-as-a-service” (SaaS) and hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) creates ways to take advantage of new “backbones” that make it easier and more cost effective to be able to focus on the industry-specific requirements to meet industry challenges and guest expectations. Lastly, the numerous payment offerings and data security requirements that surround them, create great confusion and challenges that the industry is looking for clarity and solutions for.
What legacy would you like to leave from being IFBTA’s President?

Hard to think about this right now as we are new and I am just getting started! But at the end of the day, I would expect to leave a strong chapter base within North America and globally, and then partnerships with all industry associations, media and organizations with presence at most industry events across the globe. Additionally, an industry certification that is globally recognized as both as pertinent to setting standards for industry knowledge in technology, but also as a sign of achievement by those that achieve it at all levels. And then lastly, a strong program at the high school, vocational school and university levels to promote technology within hospitality management courses and careers within the hospitality industry in the technology area for students in these programs – and supporting industry programs like ProStart and others at the local levels.
What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten?

The good news about being in the industry is that there have been many great meals, most often defined by those I was dining with. But probably the most memorable was eating $500-a-piece Kobe steaks at a restaurant in Tokyo in the 90’s and thinking, “thank goodness my credit card can pay for this meal,” becuase I did not know the price in advance, and no one spoke English to be able to confirm for me the price was correct! And BTW, it was the best steak I have eaten as well.