Earlier this month, the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) held our first annual conference. We’ve been to many procurement conferences in our day and we know that most of them are boring. We know that most of them feature the same tired speakers and topics year after year after year. We know that most of them are very impersonal and lack the spirit necessary for attendees to make true, lasting professional connections.
So, we set out to do something different.
What we came up with was “The NLPA Conference 2013: Make Procurement Rock!”
This event, held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 12th and 13th, was designed to be more educational than any other procurement event of its kind. It was designed to help attendees network in a personal environment like never before. And it was designed to be fun.
From what attendees have told us, we accomplished our mission! Here are a few highlights…
Each keynote speech and workshop was given a “rock-n-roll” title that tied into the theme of the presentation.
The conference kicked off with a keynote speech by yours truly entitled “Welcome To The Jungle: New Procurement Challenges of Today & The Next Five Years.” In this presentation, I reviewed how some shocking world events have led to some imminent changes in the way that international procurement will be done; how a great sourcing strategy can actually be a competitive advantage that helps your company sell more of its products and services; and how cultural changes such as same-sex marriage legalization, the emergence of digital wallets, and consumers’ increasing (and rewarded) willingness to pre-pay suppliers are all going to reshape the way procurement is done in the future. I also believe that I became the first procurement conference speaker to use the word “twerking” in a presentation and also the first to incorporate a quote from Axl Rose!
The first day featured some incredible workshops, with highlights being “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: Making A Good Supplier Better Through Sustainable Supplier Development,” presented by David Hargraves, Vice President of Clinical Sourcing for UPMC; “Another Brick In The Wall: Building A Strong Foundation With Supply Management Ethics” by Irene Marnell, Senior Director of the Vendor Management Office for National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; and “More Than A Feeling: Negotiating Value-Added Services Into Supplier Contracts,” by Lunney Advisory Group president and co-author of The Procurement Game Plan, Dr. Soheila Lunney.
The lunch session of the first day featured a brilliant keynote speech by Ardent Partners’ Chief Research Officer (and former Aberdeen procurement guru), Andrew Bartolini. Bartolini reviewed how far procurement technology tools have come and what he envisions for the future. It was extremely thought provoking, to say the least!
While the day was full of learning, attendees got to let loose at night at the Pittsburgh Hard Rock Café, where they were treated to live music from the band, Lucky Me, and got to indulge in amazing appetizers, including those available at the Make-Your-Own Nacho Bar and extremely unique Klondike Sundae Bar. And to top off the night, I joined Lucky Me on stage where I surprised the crowd by shredding Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” on guitar. By the resulting ovation, I knew that the crowd approved of a procurement event that was not only top-notch in its educational quality, but also fun!
We got back to business on Day 2 with more great workshops, including “”Great Balls of Fire: Creating Supply Risk Plans For Likely And Unlikely Events,” presented by Catherine Herr, Senior Director of Global Manufacturing Procurement for Eli Lilly; “25 or 6 to 4: Purchasing Metrics That Make Sense,” presented by Paulo Moretti, a consultant from Vantage Partners; and a stimulating and interactive panel discussion featuring myself, Bartolini, and Nancy Alderson, Director of Procurement for Meggitt.
The final keynote speech was delivered by CEO of Value Vantage Partners, Christopher Provines. His presentation, entitled “We’re Not Gonna Take It: How The Supply Base Is Moving To Value-Based Competition & How Procurement Must Prepare For It,” gave the crowd shocking new insights into how suppliers are changing the way they price their products and services and how procurement professionals can change the way they negotiate in order to stay on top.
I tried to shake as many attendees’ hands as possible as they departed the NLPA Conference 2013. The overwhelmingly positive feedback they shared about the conference was so rewarding. And while many attendees told me that this was the best procurement conference they had ever attended, the NLPA team left the conference with many lessons learned and new ideas that are sure to make next year’s NLPA Conference even better!
Watch for an announcement of the NLPA Conference 2014 very, very soon!
In the mean time, you can check out photos from the conference on our Facebook page.