NextGen 2022: Learning from leaders

This year’s event showcased thought leadership from more than two dozen senior supply chain professionals.

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Back in 2019, Supply Chain Management Review and my colleagues at Peerless Media launched the NextGen Supply Chain Conference at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel in Chicago. The idea then, and now, was to bring together supply chain practitioners from around the country to hear presentations on where supply chain is going next. The focus was on emerging technologies, like AI, IoT and robotics; the emphasis was on presentations from senior level supply chain leaders at companies like IBM, Cisco, Johnson Controls, HP and Flex who would address what was changing in their worlds; and finally, to do so in a unique setting conducive to engagement and networking.

So far, so good. After a strong inaugural event, COVID got in the way and we went virtual in 2020 and 2021. The content remained strong, but, as most of us learned during the pandemic, engagement and networking are harder to enable when the presenters are on Zoom and the attendees are submitting questions via the messaging function.

Last week, we were back in person at the Chicago Athletic Association. And, I’m proud to say that we were back. It is a smaller event by design – we had just over 150 attendees – but the presentations were as powerful as ever, and the engagement and networking was great. Feedback has been positive, and the criticism constructive, aimed at helping us put on a better event next year. I’m excited.

As the guy who hosted the event, listened to every presentation and led the Q&A sessions after each speaker was done, I’d love to highlight all of my speakers, but here are a handful of takeaways.

AI may not be here yet – and it all depends on how we define AI – but it is definitely coming. That message was part of nearly every presentation in one for another, but was the focus of a presentation by Jay Koganti, a vice president with Estee Lauder.

Meta isn’t the only company investing in the metaverse. Melissa Twiningdavis, a senior managing director in supply chain at Accenture, detailed how one of the world’s leading consulting firms is utilizing the metaverse to onboard and connect employees, along with some of the practical applications companies might want to consider today for this emerging technology.

Supply chains are still managed by people. We all know the phrase that it’s about people, process and technology. Too often, the focus is on technology; we forget that supply chains are still managed by people. That was the point of three very different presentations. Adrienne Palermo and Jessica Robledo Garcia, two P&G executives described how the CPG giant is digitally-upskilling employees from the line up to the executiver level with its Citizen Developer program. The program empowers non-programmers with software tools that they can use to develop applications to address problems they identify in P&G’s operations.

Adrienne and Jessica were followed by Bill Good, the VP of supply chain at GE Appliances, who described initiatives to attract and retain individuals from underserved communities to build tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce. Finally, Jonathan Karlese, an author and planning expert, explained how the biases we all bring to the job can impact the accuracy of our forecasts, and what to do about it.

To close out the event, Claudia Freed, the CEO of EALgreen, told us how her non-profit organization is helping manufacturers and distributors with excess inventory earn a tax credit and finance college scholarships, and Michigan State’s Steven Melnyk told us what we all can learn about decision-making from Top Gun: Maverick.

If you’re interested in presenting at next year’s conference, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. I and my team will beginning planning the 2023 event in early spring. And, you can find more information about the conference here.

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, MMH Executive Editor and SCMR contributor
Bob Trebilcock's Bio Photo

Bob Trebilcock is the editorial director for Modern Materials Handling and an editorial advisor to Supply Chain Management Review. He has covered materials handling, technology, logistics, and supply chain topics for nearly 40 years. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at 603-852-8976.

View Bob's author profile.

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