On August 30, 2011, the Heinz Corporation held their annual shareholders meeting at the Fairmont Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pa. Invited by Jack Ciak, Sc.D., a Heinz shareholder and assistant professor of communication at Seton Hill, Paul Woods, Bruce Powell, Jackie Spoljarick and I attended this event. We represented Seton Hill University’s Financial Communication class. Dr. Ciak shared with our class the value of understanding stock, financial documents and investing. The opportunity to attend Heinz’s annual meeting came at very useful time. As a guest at the event, this experience was very memorable in many aspects.

When we entered the Fairmont Hotel, we were greeted by Heinz Corporation personal who shared information packets with us; these packets provided each of us with the background information on the company. Approximately 200 shareholders were in attendance and the meeting began very simply with the CEO of Heinz Corporation, William Johnson, speaking. He delivered a speech on the overall success of Heinz over the past year. Because I am not a shareholder, I was afraid I would not understand the meeting. However, with a very informative PowerPoint presentation, the content of Johnson’s speech was presented clearly and concisely.

Within 30 minutes, the meeting was complete. Johnson greeted us personally and thanked us for attending the meeting. Board members were also present at the meeting. Former Steelers great and Heinz shareholder, Lynn Swann was also in attendance. He thanked us for our attendance and signed autographs.

Each participant received a very generous gift bag, including a supply of Heinz ketchup, an engraved keychain and an imported stock of food from Brazil.

This experience enlightened me about the financial communication world and broadened my outlook on how communication professionals work.