Supply Chain and Logistics Conferences to Attend in 2015

Last January, I shared 5 New Year’s Resolutions for supply chain and logistics executives to improve as leaders. Of the five resolutions, the one you should always recommit yourself to every year is “Make the time for learning — and teaching.” As I wrote last year:

According to leadership expert Ken Blanchard, “when you stop learning, you stop leading,” and this is especially true in supply chain management. New technologies, business models, competitors, legislation, economic issues, and so on are constantly emerging. Therefore, it’s critically important for supply chain executives to stay informed of these trends and make the time for learning because yesterday’s leading practices might no longer apply and they’ll need to develop and implement new ones to succeed moving forward.

In my opinion, the best source of practical knowledge and advice are your peers — that is, executives just like you who have already met and overcome the same challenges and opportunities you face today. Conferences are a great example of peer-to-peer learning in action, but with so many supply chain and logistics conferences available, how do you decide which ones to attend? As I’ve shared in the past, here are three questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Does the conference 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.

But learning is not enough — you also have to make the time to teach. So when you return from a conference, teach your colleagues, especially the young professionals on your team, about what you learned at the conference, not only from the formal presentations, but from the conversations you had with other attendees. If you really want to stretch yourself, start a blog and share your knowledge and experience in writing. The experience will not only improve your communication skills, it will also spark questions and discussions, which can lead to new ideas and insights about how to improve your supply chain.

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 a couple of conferences in the coming weeks:

60th Annual Food Shippers of America Annual Conference, March 1-3 in San Antonio, TX. The title of my presentation is Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Results: Why Innovation Matters in a Fast-Changing World. Many companies have achieved success despite having poor visibility and control of their supply chains; despite having outdated and inflexible IT systems; despite not taking a holistic perspective of their end-to-end processes; and so on. However, the standard disclaimer that appears on all investment literature also holds true for supply chain and logistics: past performance is no guarantee of future results. In this presentation, I’ll make the case as to why companies can’t succeed “despite” any more and outline several attributes that will define successful companies of tomorrow.

Logistics Summit & Expo, March 18-19, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico. The title of my presentation is Are Your Ready for the Social Supply Chain? We are currently seeing the rise of supply chain operating networks, the business equivalents of Facebook and LinkedIn, which are enabling communities of trading partners to communicate, collaborate, and execute business processes in more efficient, scalable, and innovative ways. But we are still in the early stages of fully enabling and leveraging the full potential of business networks. What are the most promising opportunities B2B social networks have to offer companies? What are the main obstacles and concerns companies must overcome to further adopt network-based business processes — and how do they overcome them? What can business networks learn from Facebook, LinkedIn, and other mainstream social media sites in terms of user experience? I’ll address those questions in my presentation and provide attendees with a clearer view of the future of social supply chain networks.

I hope to see many of you at one or more of these conferences this year. Happy learning and networking in 2015!

Vendor Conferences (alphabetical order)

Industry Conferences