If you followed my advice from a few months ago, you included a line item in your 2014 budget for learning and leadership development — and you allocated enough money to attend at least a conference or two this year. I wholeheartedly agree with leadership expert Kenneth Blanchard’s assertion that “When you stop learning, you stop leading,” and despite all of the valuable learning resources available online, nothing replaces the unique learning and networking experience live conferences provide.
But with so many supply chain and logistics conferences available, how do you decide which ones to attend? As I’ve shared before, here are three questions I recommend you ask yourself:
1. Does the agenda align with the key initiatives I’m working on? Simply put, give priority to events where you will walk away with knowledge and information that you can immediately apply at your company to get your job done better and faster. And if you require the support of your technology and 3PL partners to accomplish your initiatives, then you should attend their user conferences and schedule meetings with their senior executives to let them know what’s working well and what improvements they can make to better serve you.
2. Will I learn something new, particularly in an area that I don’t know much about today but is critically important for my career and leadership development? If you’re a transportation professional, for example, and all you know is transportation, your opportunities for advancement are limited compared to someone who has a broader supply chain perspective. So, go ahead, attend a session on Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP), supply chain risk management, business intelligence and analytics, or other area outside your comfort zone to brighten your horizon.
3. Does the event promote peer-to-peer learning and networking or will I spend most of my time sitting through numerous PowerPoint presentations? In my experience, events that enable attendees to share knowledge and advice with each other (via small breakout sessions, for example) instead of just sitting through an endless stream of PowerPoint presentations, provide the greatest learning value.
Below is a short list of the supply chain and logistics conferences scheduled this year. I’ve attended many of them in previous years, often as a speaker, and I’ve always walked away with some great insights and new business connections.
I’m already scheduled to speak at two conferences in the coming months:
Hispanic and Latino Executive Track @ the ISM Supply Chain Diversity Summit, February 26-28, San Francisco, CA. The title of my presentation is Que Numero Salio? Understand How Your Past Can Shape Your Future. As the son of Cuban immigrants, I’ll be sharing stories, experiences, and lessons I’ve learned by exploring where I came from, and I’ll make the case for why connecting with your heritage, and your family history in particular, can provide you with important insights and inspiration for succeeding in life and business. (See my write-up from last year’s conference, What’s Not in My Bio).
Perform 2014, Roadnet Technologies User Conference, May 12-15, Fort Myers, Florida. I’ll be giving a keynote presentation focused on the convergence of fleet management, last-mile fulfillment, and mobile technologies, and I’ll also moderate a customer panel discussion.
I hope to see many of you at one of these conferences this year. And if there are other conferences you recommend and plan to attend, please post a comment with the details.
Happy learning and networking in 2014!
Vendor Conferences (alphabetical order)
- Ariba: Ariba LIVE, March 17-19 in Las Vegas, NV
- Dematic: Material Handling & Logistics Conference, September 7-10 in Park City, UT
- Descartes Systems Group: Evolution 2014, details TBD (usually held in early Nov.)
- HighJump Software: Innovation 2014, April 13 – 16 in Las Vegas, NV
- Infor: Inforum 2014, September 15-18 in New Orleans, LA
- JDA Software: Focus 2014, April 27-30 in Las Vegas, NV
- LeanLogistics: LeanLogistics ClientConnect, details TBD (usually held in the fall)
- LLamasoft: SummerCon 2014, details TBD (usually held in June)
- Manhattan Associates: Momentum 2014, May 5-8 in Hollywood, FL
- MercuryGate: MercuryGate 2014 User Conference, September 8-10, New Orleans, LA
- Oracle: Oracle Value Chain Summit 2014, February 3-5 in San Jose, CA
- ORTEC: OPTIMUS 2014, details TBD (usually held in the fall)
- SAP: SAPPHIRE NOW 2014, June 3-5 in Orlando, FL
- TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson Client Forum, details TBD (for clients only)
- Transplace: Shipper Symposium, May 12-14, Dallas, TX
- Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Annual Global Conference, September 21-24 in San Antonio, TX
- The Logistics & Supply Chain Forum, May 18-20 in Jacksonville, FL and November 2-4 in Scottsdale, AZ
- Retail Supply Chain Conference, February 23-26 in San Diego, CA
- Eyefortransport 12th 3PL Summit, June 11-13 in Chicago, IL
- Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) Conference, April 27-30 in Chicago, IL
- 2014 Georgia Logistics Summit, March 18-19 in Atlanta, GA
- TIA 2014 Great Ideas Conference & Exposition, April 9-12 in Tucson, AZ