If you’re a supply chain professional, a student in the field, or you just want to learn more about supply chain operations, there is a raft of benefits to be had from attending supply chain conferences.
What you may not have considered though, is that there are ways and means to maximise the educational value of supply chain conferences, seminars, and similar events.
I’ve put together this short guide to help you make sure every supply chain conference you attend is 100% educational. The key principal behind this guidance is to pick the right conferences to meet your learning objectives.
If you get that part right, the rest is down to your ability to be attentive and choose the right conference sessions in which to participate.
First: Clarify Your Learning Objectives
There is an awful lot to be learned at supply chain conferences and events. So much so, that without a bit of prior planning, it’s easy to be overwhelmed, unsure of which sessions to take part in, and to suffer from information overload.
The best way to avoid these problems is to identify exactly what supply chain topics you want to learn about.
The more narrowly you focus in this regard, the better. So you need to ask yourself some questions like:
- What topics of education will deliver the most value for you and your organisation?
- Will you benefit most from general supply chain conferences or those focusing on a particular aspect?
- What specific topics will help you solve real-world problems in your company?
- What disciplines do you need to sharpen in order to raise your career performance?
Once you have a list of educational objectives, you can move on to the next step in planning your conference attendance wish-list.
Choose Supply Chain Conferences Wisely
Now you know what you most need to learn about, you can really target the supply chain conferences and events which will benefit you the most. If you aren’t careful about selecting the events you attend, you can easily end up wasting a lot of money. Most supply chain conferences are expensive; hence attendees mostly comprise those whose participation has been funded by an employer or supporting organisation.
It makes sense then, to choose the right supply chain conferences. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the largest events, with masses of sessions, workshops, and other activities, will always be the ones to prioritise.
You will probably enjoy a more enriching educational experience at the smaller events, which also have the advantage of being less expensive to attend.
You should also try to choose supply chain events with a focus on learning over networking—the ones designed expressly to engage delegates in learning opportunities. For example, my very own Supply Chain Leaders Insights event coming up soon, is as its name suggests, a conference with a difference.
A Supply Chain Conference with a Difference
Rather than have auditorium sessions with speakers, the entire event program comprises round-tables and coaching sessions for small groups of delegates, delivered by experts from various supply chain disciplines, such as 3PL services, materials handling, performance measurement/improvement, and risk management.
This type of event makes it easy to manage your learning time and make it productive, since you can pick the topics you’re interested in, attend a one-hour training/coaching session on each. Once you’ve done the rounds, you can prioritise some extra sessions for the topics which most interested you, or for which you have extra questions to ask.
It has to be said that the Supply Chain Leaders Insights event is fairly unique in employing this format, but with luck, it will catch on and similar events will become more common.
With a very low price of admission, there is major value to be had from an event of this type, especially because so much educational content is compressed into a single day. This is an event you can attend even on a very modest budget, while losing just a minimum of productive time in the workplace—an important factor if you’ll be asking someone to fund your attendance.
Try Different Events on For Size
Of course we are all different, and we all learn in different ways. The advice in this post is based on my experiences as a supply chain education specialist and conference speaker.
That’s also why I developed the SCLI event format, to try and offer an educational experience that anyone with a supply chain interest can profit from.
That’s not to dissuade you from trying different types of supply chain conference, seminar, or workshop. It’s worth trying out a few different event formats initially, and thereafter attending the ones which most closely suit your learning preferences and style.
Focus on the ones which will educate you the most, but don’t forget that you are allowed a little fun and recreation too. In fact I insist upon it, since you will learn more if the experience is enjoyable. Get out there, get educated, and enjoy the change of pace and scene.