SIG Summit

In the blink of an eye...

Each spring or fall as we approach the Summit, my creativity stops flowing and I go into "do" mode. My approach to everything becomes VERY tactical. My shoulders tense early in the day as I make a handwritten list with the various tasks I need to accomplish. If the item isn't: (a) going to print; (b) necessary for the Summit; or (c) required to keep one of my children alive, it probably won’t be addressed for a few more weeks. That's just the nature of working for a company that puts on large-scale events. We look at every detail from every angle and do everything in our power to execute as flawlessly as possible. That isn't to say that everything goes perfectly. It doesn't...but it's our job to shake it off, find a new solution and move forward like swans—looking peaceful and content above water, but paddling like all heck underneath. We arrive at the Summit location a full 4-5 days before our first guests arrive. In a sea of commotion, we unpack boxes, set up rooms, organize our registration desk, write last minute announcements, put together signs, meet with the hotel and check off the myriad things on our individual and collective "to do" lists (and yes, there really is a group "to do" list). It is a blur...and yet those days before the Summit starts are relaxing in an odd sort of way. We get the chance to reconnect with our colleagues whom we see only a few times a year. We are able to appreciate in person the amazing work our team members produce. And we laugh. A lot. As Saturday becomes Sunday becomes Monday, the anticipation of delegates arriving escalates palpably. The quiet buzz of excitement in the air becomes a cacophony of sound, not the least of which are the intermingled voices of delegates greeting old friends and making new connections. Although I look forward to our keynote speakers and hearing the latest trends and discoveries in the incredible breakouts, I secretly think that it's the sound of people connecting that I love the most.

Sarah Holliman

SIG Members...Feel the Love!

I had a completely different blog ready to go today, but realized that we are on the cusp of Member Appreciation Week, so my "New Years Resolution" blog is just going to have to wait (and how apropos...putting off those resolutions just a little longer)... As we get ready to celebrate our members next week with tokens of appreciation, phone calls and a drawing for a Dell Venue 8 Pro Tablet, I'd like to say what I personally appreciate most about our fabulous SIG members:

Sarah Holliman, Vice President of Marketing, SIG

Words of Wisdom from the Summit Part IV: Leading with Passion

In the final installment of this series, I have the honor of covering our closing keynote speaker, Brian Biro, who delivered an interactive session on leading with passion. I might add that he spoke passionately about the subject too. I have to say, I was a twittering (tweeting?) fool when Brian spoke. He had so many little snippets of wisdom, it was hard to keep up. In our final lunch session, Brian had the entire crowd on our feet and gathered around the stage cheering together as two women in the audience (one, our very own tiny Mary Zampino) broke through a board with a single (well, in one case a double) punch. It was awe-inspiring to watch. In both this session as well as an invitation-only event with an intimate group of CPOs, I took away the following insightful anecdotes:

Breakthrough experiences are always a matter of choice. There's always a way to do something if you are committed to it...but you have to follow through. If you do not follow-through, you will not breakthrough.

If you want to change your life, change your energy. Be fully present in each moment. It is the secret to life balance, not to mention that it will make those around you a lot happier.

The most destructive word in people-building is "blame." Blame kills teams. It is always in the past, not in the present. You must be in the "NOW" not stuck on the road of "AS SOON AS."

Sarah Holliman, Vice President of Marketing, SIG

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part IV: The Afterlife

In the final part of this series, I have a few tips on what to do after a SIG event…and specifically after the SIG Summit…is over.

Summarize your notes. Take a few minutes on your plane ride home while it is still fresh in your mind and write one sentence for every breakout and general session you attended. Make sure write down the overall theme and include key takeaways. Identify any action items for you or your team and who might own them, including any speaker follow-ups. If you need a few reminders, look at the SIG twitter feed using the hashtag for that event. In the case of the fall Summit, we used #SIGFall13. Chances are that someone tweeted some of the key thoughts. The Summit is full of tangible and implementable ideas. Use them!

Schedule time to report your experience to your team. When a SIG team member attends a conference, we report back to our team, providing:

  • Collateral: copies of decks, checklists, takeaways, forms, templates, tools
  • Summary of lessons learned
  • 5-10 new ideas / innovative approaches / topics for brown bag lunch discussions and strategy meetings

Many members have told us that they have to take turns attending the Summit, so a report-out is a great way to share your learnings and make the whole team feel like they were onsite. If you tweet while you are at the event, they can even follow you live!

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part III: Content is King

After every Summit we ask the delegates to tell us the two most important factors in contributing to their decision to attend the event. Consistently the delegates cite the Summit program content and the opportunities to network. In the first part of this blog series, I summarized some best practices for networking, specifically for Sourcing professionals. In this part of the series, I will summarize best practices for obtaining the most value from the SIG Summit program content. Keep in mind, most of these also apply to other SIG event program content (like our Symposiums, Regionals, Webinars and Town Hall Teleconferences).

Before the Event:

Make arrangements to arrive early and depart late - for Summits this means come in on Monday night and plan to stay until Friday morning. The event schedule is packed and the attendees are high-level...trust me, you want to get there early and stay late.

Write a list of objectives - include the content you wish to cover. For example, you may own the Legal spend category or you may be in the process of supplier normalization or possibly building a case study for procurement transformation. Consider the industries and organizations you may be interested in hearing from...and understand the expectations of your boss and your team members...do they expect you to report your experiences? If so, how? And when?

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Words of Wisdom from the Summit Part III: Seasoned CPOs Provide Pearls of Wisdom

In part 3 of this 4-part series, I am covering some of the insights from a powerhouse panel of CPOs and other procurement leaders we had at the last Summit. Our own Dawn Evans facilitated a fireside chat with a group of sourcing leaders, including Linda Behan, Senior Vice President, Iron Mountain; Clyde Dornier, Head of Global Sourcing and Procurement, Visa; Cory Locke, Vice President, Global Categories, Hewlett-Packard; and Todd Podell, CPO, Alcon, who shared some pearls of wisdom on what keeps them up at night and how they have achieved success in their careers. With all due respect, I can't even begin to capture all the fantastic feedback, insights and advice our panel provided, but in my opinion, these are some of the highlights:

Being uncomfortable teaches you to succeed. This nugget came after a question regarding how the panel overcame challenges at the beginning of their careers. If you think about this one, it makes a lot of sense. Innovation doesn't come from the status quo. It comes when people are shaking things up. If you are comfortable in your job and going with the flow, you may not be looking for ways to make things better. But if you are uncomfortable for any reason — worried that something isn't "quite right," you are probably seeking ways to make things better. Makes sense, doesn't it?

You must have tenacity in procurement. It's safe to say that tenacity is a virtue in just about any career, but in procurement, it may be even more critical. Said one of the panelists, "You need to have the doors slammed in your face to become good (at what you do)." Hopefully there aren't too many slamming doors, but the reality is that talking business units into collaborating with procurement isn't always an easy sell. Tenacity is a must.

Sarah Holliman, Vice President of Marketing, SIG

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part II: Questions to Spur Conversations

In my last post, I provided some tips for networking. I actually enjoy networking, but I know many who think of it in the same way that others think of public speaking...they are scared to death to do it. They'd rather find the one person in the crowd that they know than to seek out new connections. At SIG Summits, which attract 350-450 people, we try to make it easy to network by putting a special sticker on the nametags of first-time attendees. At the first General Session we explain the sticker and encourage everyone to "introduce themselves to the cowboy boots" (for example, since a cowboy boot sticker was the chosen icon for the last Summit in Fort Worth, Texas). It takes a lot of the pain out of the process for those who don't enjoy seeking people out and is an instant conversation starter. But if you are in a situation without your "cowboy boots," (and/or if you are a network-a-phobe like so many), perhaps some of these questions can be helpful to you. I use them when first meeting a fellow Sourcing professional.

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Words of Wisdom from the Summit Part II: Understanding Gen iY

Several months ago a valued SIG member suggested we consider asking Dr. Tim Elmore to keynote at our Summit. A leading authority on generational diversity in the workforce, Tim has authored more than 25 books and appeared on CNN's Headline News and had media coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes.com, and The Washington Post among others. It was immediately clear that what Tim had to say was something our delegates needed to hear. As entertaining as he was instructional, I once again found myself taking notes as quickly as my fingers could type. Discussing what he calls "Generation iY" — the second half of the Millenial Generation, so called because they've grown up under the influence of iPods, iPads, iPhones, iTunes, etc. — Elmore's keynote was on how to understand this generation to enable them to be successful in the workforce. My key takeaways from this fabulous speaker and my interpretation of how to apply them: 26 is the new 18. In generations past, many 18-year-olds left home to enter the workforce. Not only is this not as common today, but many young adults are living with parents after college, where they still have their cell phones paid for, laundry washed and meals fed. Not a bad gig if you can get it...but isn't this in fact enabling this generation to be narcissistic? Having low empathy, being ambiguous about the future, "slack-tivists," technology-savvy, self-absorbed, and postponed maturation are all characteristics/adjectives that have been used by Elmore to describe the Gen iY group.

Sarah Holliman, Vice President of Marketing, SIG

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part I: Best Practices for Networking

There's nothing more I love to do than get to know someone new. I'm curious about where and how they live, if they prefer a good book or movie over a roller coaster ride (or both), if they like Beethoven or the Beatles (or both), if they went to school abroad or in the South, or wherever. I like stories. I like people. That makes it easy for me to network. However, not everyone finds networking easy. One of the top two reasons people attend SIG events is to network with other like-minded folks who are in the same roles, have similar responsibilities and face the same type of challenges. Every SIG event offers ample opportunity to network, whether at a reception or a meal or our specific speed networking program at the Summits. So whether you're at a SIG event or (gasp) another industry event, I thought I'd take a few minutes and just offer some ideas for making networking a little easier for the "non-networking-inclined."

Create your own elevator pitch - Be prepared to explain yourself in just a few minutes. It's easy to put together your story if you come up with answers to these questions:

  • What is your role at your organization? How long have you been in that role?
  • What are your immediate goals within your current role?
  • What are your future goals? For your current role? For your future role?
  • What is your boss asking you to accomplish?
  • What keeps you up at night?

Review the attendee list beforehand - If available, review the list of expected, registered attendees. Look for folks in your industry and make a list so you can be sure to find them when you're onsite. Ask your team members or direct reports if there are certain organizations or people you should target. Don't hesitate to ask one of the conference organizers for help making these connections, either beforehand or onsite. We at SIG are always happy to facilitate introductions!

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Words of Wisdom from the Summit Part I: Leadership Lessons from the Flight Deck

At the last Global Summit, we hit the jackpot in our keynote speakers. We had fighter pilots, CPOs, Ph.D.s and MBAs...we had practitioners, motivational speakers and authors...and we had people who have viewed things from the trenches and seen them from the sky. In each, we received pearls of wisdom...anecdotes to apply in our daily lives and corporate positions. In this series, I'll try to capture some of the key messages our general sessions provided. We kicked off the event with Carey Lohrenz, a former U.S. Navy Tomcat Fighter Pilot. Her session was inspiring and had the audience scribbling furiously, trying to capture her lessons from the flight deck that we could carry into the business world. As the first female fighter pilot, Carey learned to thrive in adversity. Some of the more poignant things I took away from her presentation...and my interpretation of how they apply to those of us in civilian clothing:

Sarah Holliman, Vice President of Marketing, SIG

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