Friday Rant: Procurement Leaders Ups the US Conference Ante

I had the chance to spend nearly the entire day this past Wednesday at Procurement Leaders' first US event. For those who don’t know Procurement Leaders, I'd describe the organization as an integrated media and events company. They are well known throughout Europe and have built a reputation for delivering classy events that tackle procurement and supply chain issues, a quality magazine with online content and an extended membership network that encourages interaction and information exchange among participants. With the their formal US events launch this March, it's clear that European Leaders in Procurement, the name they used to call themselves, has got far larger ambitions than simply building a quality integrated media act within the UK and EU markets.

The US event was not perfect, but it was certainly one of the best non-vendor and non-analyst events I've been to. Still, what's different about Procurement Leaders from say an AMR Research event of old -- back when Bruce and Tony ran the show -- is that there is no consistency around the talent and personalities on stage. The speakers at Procurement Leaders are all very senior, but the content is built around what's on their mind, rather than the consistent research, quirky personalities and senior executive contacts that an established firm such as AMR brings. The Procurement Leaders team took a back-seat the entire time (even relative to Purchasing's team at their event last fall). This is not a good or bad thing -- just a different style.

I think Procurement Leaders will need to make a few tweaks for the US market, though not many. The format of getting senior participants together in excellent venues with adequate time for networking is spot on. The content as always, characteristic of these events, was up and down. This time, it ranged from excellent to fair -- nothing poor. Moreover, the seniority of the speakers -- not to mention many of the attendees -- was outstanding (though this says very little for how the quality will be, under most circumstances). I also liked the openness of the venue and general vibe -- it was very easy, for example, to talk to anyone in attendance.

As a final note, unlike some other events companies, Procurement Leaders are not sales prostitutes (trust me -- some other organizations will truly compromise content to make a buck). Yes, Procurement Leaders is a for-profit organization, but in my view, they most certainly appeared to put the experience of the practitioner attendees far before such behavior as extorting vendors at every opportunity at the expense of content. For this reason, and many more, you can bet I'll be back.

- Jason Busch

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