Lisa Reisman on the Upcoming Spend Matters/MetalMiner Conference: What’s in it for you??

Over the past few years, MetalMiner and Spend Matters have received many requests to host conferences. Truthfully, I have cringed at the thought because honestly, I find most of them somewhat boring. Not to knock corporate America's venerable CPO's, but most of those "here is the transformation process we went through at our company" speeches get kind of, well, repetitive. I mean, how many times do we need to listen to a story about change management issues, the importance of buy-in from key stakeholders and fixing the underlying processes and supporting them with enabling technologies? Yawn. Perhaps I've become a bit cynical. So running conferences has never much appealed to me. And certainly within the metals industry, we'd be competing with far more established conferences hosted by firms with longer histories than us in providing steel price outlooks or aluminum forecasts.

Personally, I like to attend conferences that really engage me -- with provocative speakers, controversial content or highly educational material that I couldn't gain otherwise. I view networking as secondary (though I realize folks in sales and marketing organizations may prioritize these activities differently). But to me, there is nothing like listening to a panel discussion that really makes you think, challenges your assumptions and forces you to look at the world perhaps a little differently.

With this vision in mind, how can we possibly run a conference that encompasses all that? Honestly, we don't know for sure yet if we can...but we're sure going to try with our first conference ever: International Trade Policy Breaking Point.

This conference (part McLaughlin Group, part TED) seeks to tackle one issue from the political realm (in this case international trade policy) and dissect it all the way down to specific supply risk management scenarios and subsequent sourcing strategies to tactical tools required to manage what we see as a somewhat tumultuous global trade environment.

Hosted as a half-day conference with a small live audience, we decided to provide a live feed of the conference so more people could have access to the three panels. Speakers for the first panel include:

  • Bill Strauss, Senior Economist and Economic Adviser from the Federal Reserve Board of Chicago, who produces the monthly Mid-west Manufacturing Index and tracks regional manufacturing trends
  • Jennifer Diggins, Corporate Public Affairs for Nucor (also a conference sponsor)
  • Timothy Brightbill, Partner from the law firm Wiley & Rein, specialist in anti-dumping, countervailing duty and WTO rules

The second panel will examine a range of issues, from financial and supply chain risk and security to how companies can evaluate and assess risk by country as well as offer specific strategies and tactics to minimize non-financial risk (e.g. climate, socio-economic). Speakers include:

  • Jim Lawton – SVP and GM Supply Management Solutions Business Unit, Dun & Bradstreet
  • Daniel McGroarty, Principal – Carmot Strategic Group and Senior Advisor to the US Chamber of Commerce, International Division
  • Dom Gambardella – Partner & National Practice Leader Customs and International Trade Practice, PWC

The final panel dovetails off an immensely popular webinar on Total Landed Cost models, in which I gave along with Zycus several years ago (I think it holds the record for largest number of attendees, at over 1,300). Sean Devine, VP of Strategy for Echo Global Logistics, will join me. Sean is going to experiment with an iPad white-boarding application to discuss how companies can best model some of the volatility and uncertainty in their supply chains. Attendees will also receive a free total landed cost model. One more shameless plug -- live simulcast attendees can obtain three CE hours through ISM for participating.

Will this conference prove successful? We're not entirely sure, but as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. We hope to see you there!

Click here for more information on the event, and register here.

-- Lisa Reisman

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