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  First Thoughts

    Dan Gilmore


    Supply Chain Digest

Sept. 23, 2022

Trip Report: CSCMP Edge 2022

Conference is Back with Strong Event


I am fresh back from three days at CSCMP’s Edge 2022 conference in Nashville. More precisely, I spent those three days at the incredible Gaylord Opryland hotel and convention center, the first built in the small in number but giant in scale chain of properties. That - if you been to one of them - of course meant I spent a lot of time trying to find my way from point A to B, passing many lost attendees along the way, but I guess that’s the price you pay for enjoying such a venue.

It was a good and interesting conference. Here is my review and comment, starting this week with just some thoughts on the event as a whole and various awards and such, and will be back next week with summaries of the keynotes and key breakout sessions.

Gilmore Says....

I will be back with next week with summaries of keynotes and breakout I attended.

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This was the second conference under CSCMP CEO and my fried Mark Baxa, who moved from an interim job after the surprise retirement of long-time CEO Rick Blasgen in early 2021 to permanent CEO status this year.

I can confidently say Edge is back with a lot of energy and if you will hallway “buzz,” after a somewhat somber affair last year in Atlanta, when CSCMP’s risky decision to hold an in-person event turned out just OK, with understandably low attendance and low energy as a result.

This year, there were about 2800 attendees – a good number for this event. The convention center felt busy, and all told the program was good. There were three keynote presentations (one excellent, one good, one good but partly puzzling), and I believe 22 educational tracks encompassing more than 100 presentations.

The trade show-like Supply Chain Exchange was sold out and seemed to be well attended. There were many conference sponsors of various sorts.

Net all that out and I am told it was a very successful event financially for CSCMP – a welcome state of affairs for CSCMP given the share of the organization’s budget tied to the show and two lean years with a virtual conference in 2020 and the lower attended event in 2021 as noted above.

The conference has been structured the same way for a long time, and publicly and privately I have urged the conference to reconsider that script. This year, we got a minor change on Wednesday, the final day.

A morning only affair for many years, the format has been a small selection of “mega sessions” for 75-90 minutes, followed by a brunch, during which a few annual awards were dished out. The capstone was a motivational speaker of one sort of another (Mount Everest climbers, entrepreneurs, etc.)

This year, we got two mega sessions options, no brunch, still some awards, then a supply chain speaker, Frank Cafone, who was recently promoted to head of global supply chain forPfizer. It was odd, however, in that Cafone was a keynote speaker last year in Atlanta. The story of Pfizer’s supply chain effort to develop and deliver a COVID vaccine to billions of people in about 9 months – versus many years until this – is a good one, but I am not sure what led to repeat performance this year.

Masao Nishi won the CSCMP Distinguished Service Award. I had not heard of him, but he has had a long career in supply chain at both regular companies and in academia. This continues the academic orientation to the DSA. I think this is a result in part from the fact that a university career seems more like “service” than a regular job, and that CSCMP members (including myself) are not nominating enough supply chain practitioners for the honor. I have a couple of candidates, actually, and need to go through the effort to submit their nominations soon.

Beth Ford, CEO of giant food co-op Land O’Lakes, is this year’s entrant into the supply chain hall of fame, an honor started about six years ago. She joins Nishi, who by virtue of winning the DSA is also automatically added to the hall of fame.

Ford, who worked her way to the top spot in supply chain roles, is one of the more current hall of fame entrants, whose ranks include Henry Ford and ocean container inventory Malcom McLean. When she was heading up Land O’Lakes’ supply chain Ford was a frequent participant in industry events, and I am proud to say an SCDigest subscriber for many years. In her brief comments, Ford noted the supply chain’s critical role in delivering food and other necessities across the globe, and that professionals should take great pride in their roles.

On Tuesday, prior to an interesting keynote on physical waste elimination, Baxa announced a new CSCMP program to take the message about the attractiveness of supply chain careers to high schoolers. If I understood it right, CSCMP is looking to raise $5 million by 2025 to support this effort. I will note I lobbied a bit for such a program many years ago, as I saw my own high schoolers and their guidance counsellors had nothing on supply chain as a career path.

As for many years, there was a competition for the Supply Chain Innovation Award, in which six finalist give presentations at the conference, scored by judges. The winner and runner-up were announced before the last day keynote, but it all happened very fast, with little detail about what the innovations were. I believe the winner was a company call Holcim, for something described as “Crisis as Innovation Catalyst,” whatever that is.

More detail will come later on the web sites of CSCMP and Supply Chain Brain.

Think I will end it this week right here. As noted, I will be back with next week with summaries of keynotes and breakout I attended.

CSCMP Edge 2022 – there’s some room for improvement as always, but this was a comeback year for the event, and that was good to see.

Next year Edge is heading back to Orlando – I’ll be there for sure, and hope you are too.

Did you attend Edge 2022? Let us know your thought at the Feedback section below.

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