After two wildly popular procurement conferences – 2013’s “Make Procurement Rock” and 2014’s “Where Procurement MVP’s Are Made” – the procurement world wondered what the Next Level Purchasing Association had up its sleeve next for 2016.

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The answer was yet another incredibly educational, enjoyable and historic event:  the 2016 NLPA Conference with the theme “Make Your Mark on Procurement History!”

At the NLPA, we always challenge ourselves to create conference experiences that are more unique and awesome than anything that we – or any other procurement conference host – has ever provided before.  And I think we exceeded even our own expectations!

The 2016 NLPA Conference was held at the fascinating Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 24-25, 2016.  From the first moment attendees walked in the facility, it was clear that this was going to be different than any other procurement event they had ever been to.  A wide variety of memorabilia and relics from early American history provided eye candy as attendees made their way to the registration booth.

2016 NLPA Conference at Heinz History Center


I personally kicked off the conference with my opening keynote, “Washington, Lincoln & You:  How To Become a Procurement Legend of Tomorrow.”  The audience was skeptical how I could tie in the legacies of US presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln into advice on cultivating a successful procurement career.  However, I think they were equally shocked and inspired when I demonstrated how they can use presidential lessons in their procurement careers.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 at the 2016 NLPA Conference

Our other keynote speakers provided plenty of highlights as well.  “Extraordinist” Craig Karges blew the minds of attendees with a performance that has to be seen to be truly appreciated.


Craig Karges at 2016 NLPA Conference

And a living legend of a famous forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht, served as an example of how someone can have the same job as hundreds or thousands of other people, yet rise to the top and be acknowledged as the best in his/her field.

Dr. Cyril Wecht at the 2016 NLPA Conference

This year featured more interactivity than ever.  There were two panel discussions – “Make Procurement Great Again:  How To Win The Campaign For C-Level Support” featuring Robert Rudzki (President of Greybeard Advisors), Jim Coccagno (Executive Vice President of Calgon Carbon) and David Butler (Vice President of Global Operations and Supply Chain for Philips Health Care) and “One Giant Leap For Procurement-Kind:  Future Breakthroughs in Procurement Technology” featuring Al Jacobs (Director of Global Relations for BravoSolution), Robert Yoho (Managing Partner at JeffersonWood Energy Partners) and Darko Sepic, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 (Managing Director of Procurement Services Croatia).  Plus, there was a first-of-its-kind roundtable, facilitated by a new NLPA innovation to be publicly-released soon!

Panel discussion at 2016 NLPA Conference

Five workshops produced tons of highlights.  Two of those featured case studies presented by procurement executives currently leading later-stage procurement transformations. “Darwin’s Evolution of Procurement” was conducted by HarbisonWalker International’s Senior Director of Global Procurement, Jason Borgesi, SPSM.  And for “The Procurement World Is Not Flat,” Erste Group CPO, Robert Semethy, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 and the aforementioned Darko Sepic, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 narrated a successful and continuing journey to world-class procurement at Europe’s Erste Group.  Other impressive workshop speakers included Susanne Wrage from Denali Group, Frank McNally from Public Spend Forum, and Jennifer Ulrich from Source One Management Services.

Jennifer Ulrich at 2016 NLPA Conference

Our exhibit halls are always structured to provide for quality conversation between procurement technology and service providers and procurement professionals.  It’s not rows and rows of vendors vying for your attention like carnival barkers.  It is a true collaborative atmosphere where future-minded procurement professionals got to pick the brains of our great sponsors, BravoSolution and ThomasNet.

ThomasNet's booth at 2016 NLPA Conference

Perhaps the most value was derived from the power-packed general sessions led by true procurement legends Dr. Soheila Lunney and Ernest Gabbard, JD who provided actionable insights of historical proportions in their talks on procurement metrics and negotiation, respectively.

Dr. Soheila Lunney, co-author of The Procurement Game Plan, at the 2016 NLPA Conference

At the NLPA, speaker quality is of utmost importance and part of our ongoing procurement conference legacy.  I am proud to report that we continued to trend towards perfection as our average speaker rating rose again to 3.60/4 from 3.53/4 in 2014 and 3.42/4 in 2013.

Of course, fun is a common thread that has run throughout all of our conferences.  And 2016’s was no exception, with two events that had attendees smiling from ear to ear.  First was a riverboat cruise aboard the Gateway Clipper providing for great networking, an enjoyable environment, and some surprise entertainment (which, if you missed, you’ll just have to guess at what it was!).

Networking at the 2016 NLPA Conference

And second was a guided tour of the Heinz History Center.  That tour, while fun, also provided plenty of talk about the role of supply chain and innovation in the history of industry.  Pure awesomeness!

I ain’t gonna lie…sometimes we, at the NLPA, wonder how we could possibly top our past conferences.  But, once again, we surprised even ourselves by hosting a procurement conference with more personality, better speaker quality, unprecedented value, and funner fun than any other event in the space.

How can we possibly top the 2016 NLPA Conference?  Wait and see, my friend.  Wait and see!

Thanks to all of our attendees, sponsors and speakers for helping us make procurement history!

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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