Executive Platforms’ first European Supply Chain Executive Summit ran June 19-21, 2023 at the Melia Sitges a short drive outside Barcelona on the beautiful Spanish coast of the Mediterranean. It was attended by 215 delegates, speakers, sponsor representatives, and guests from more than 150 different companies and organizations. The agenda included more than 35 keynotes, case studies, workshops, themed lunch discussions, focus groups, and more. Early feedback has been universally positive, and work is already underway to build upon this success and make next year’s summit even bigger and better.

That is the shortest overview we can offer of the event. Here is the longer version, which we will try to make both concise and at time entertaining.

In the Beginning…

The EUSCES series has its origins in Executive Platforms’ long-running and successful North American Supply Chain Executive Summit series that after almost a decade of success in Chicago is now moving to a larger venue in Arizona for 2023. At roughly the same time the decision was being made to relocate NASCES to somewhere it could continue to grow, Executive Platforms also decided the time had come to launch our first European series as one more way to expand our Supply Chain portfolio of events.

COVID-19 travel restrictions made researching site options and the forward schedules of other supply chain events a challenge, but in the end late June near Barcelona was chosen as the best time and venue for the first edition of the new series, giving it the best chance to successfully find an audience and set a tone for how Executive Platforms plans to organize future gatherings in Europe.

The Welcome Day

Because of time zone considerations and flight options, the decision was made to bring Executive Platforms’ advanced setup team to the venue earlier than usual. Upon arrival on the morning of Sunday, June 18th, the team was excited to learn Sitges is home to a thriving LGBTQ+ community of both locals and visitors, and they were hosting both their Pride Parade and an evening of festivities and live music. Sitges made a bold and memorable first impression of great food, friendly people, and a carnival atmosphere, all enjoyed in wonderful warm weather while calm waves lapped against the city’s many beaches.

Monday, June 19th, was still warm, but cloudier, and red flags on the beaches marked the waves were now too formidable for safe swimming. Instead, many Sitgetans went surfing, and Executive Platforms team members saw black wetsuited figures paddling out and zipping back to shore as they worked through their preparations.

When all was in readiness, Sponsors and corporate partners were admitted to the Exhibition Hall to begin setting up their booths at 2 pm. By 4:30 pm, delegates and speakers began lining up at Executive Platforms’ Registration Desk to be admitted to the Welcome Day Panel Discussion, “Women in Supply Chain and Leadership,” which was held in Room 2. After an hour of terrific discussion between Victoria Cobos, Deckers’ VP Operations EMEA, Nora Olah, a former VP, Supply Chain for Deutsche Telekom, Erika Linton, H&M’s Global Head Supply Chain Strategy & Design, and Maria Pia De Caro, the EVP Operations of Pernod Ricard, the Executive Platforms team was delighted at the unusually lengthy and sustained applause the audience offered the panelists upon the completion of their talk. EUSCES23 was off to a very positive and engaging start!

Attendees moved from Room 2 to an outdoor garden space for the Welcome Day Networking Drinks Reception where they enjoyed a wide arrange of tapas and four paellas, as well as live music from a live band fronted by Philip Myers and Natalie Murphy.

It was a fantastic start to a fantastic event.

Day One

The first full day of the event, Tuesday June 20th, saw better weather draw sunbathers to the nearby beaches as EUSCES’ delegates made their way to the registration desk before enjoying a well-provisioned Iberian breakfast.

Opening remarks and important announcements started at 7:45 am, and then Daniel Myers, a Senior Fellow at the University of Tennessee’s Haslam School of Business and the Retired EVP of Integrated Supply Chain of Mondelēz International began his welcome address a little before 8 am to a full and attentive room of senior supply chain executives.

The opening keynote kicking off Day One of EUSCES23 was, “Risk is Inevitable–Disruption is Optional: Building a Resilient and Agile Supply Chain“ delivered by Reginaldo Ecclissato, Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain and Business Operations Officer. The second keynote was, “Authentic Leadership and Rising to the Challenge of New Supply Chain Business Realities” given by Ivanka Janssen, the Chief Supply Chain Officer of Philips.

After that presentation the agenda split into two streams of concurrent content. Room 1 continued to be chaired by Daniel Myers, with Room 2 being chaired by Rene Buck, the CEO of BCI Global. Members of the Executive Platforms network may remember we interviewed Rene last year about, “Running a Business in a World of Constant Supply Chain Disruption” as part of our EP Thought Leaders Series. Stay tuned for another interview soon to be published that we recorded onsite at EUSCES23!

The first pair of case studies in breakout rooms included in Room 1, “Focusing on the Next Generation of Supply Chain” presented by a frequent contributor to EP’s events, David Warrick, the former GM of Global Supply Chain of Microsoft, and in Room 2 Erika Linton of H&M spoke about, “How Data Can Drive Cost Profitability While Promoting Sustainability.”

Following these sessions, summit attendees enjoyed a networking break that included pre-scheduled one-to-one meetings with other speakers, delegates, and sponsors.

After the break, delegates had their choice of workshops: In Room 1, “The Future of Decisions. Now.” was co-presented by Juan Carlos Parada, Unilever’s EVP, Global Customer Operations, and Fred Laluyaux, the President & CEO of Aera Technology; in Room 2, Darren O’Connor, a Sr. Client Lead with Performance Solutions By Milliken & Company, talked about, “The Great Resignation Dilemma.”

These workshops were then followed by another brace of case studies. “Leveraging 4IR During a Significant Supply Chain Transformation of a Consumer Goods Business,” was presented in Room 1 by Dirk Holbach, Kenkel’s CSVP & CSCO Henkel Consumer Brands. Delegates in Room 2 enjoyed, “Disruption: Working with Partners Internally and Externally to Overcome Seemingly Impossible Challenges” offered by Padraig Healy, Nokia’s VP Supply Chain Management.

The lunch break that followed included both a general lunch where delegates could sit with whoever they liked and talk about whatever they wanted, as well as more structured themed lunch discussions hosted by executives who chose a topic that delegates could opt into ahead of time. These themed lunches are often among the most popular features of Executive Platforms events because of their intimate and unstructured but focused networking and group discussion on a topic of common interest. EUSCES23 had half a dozen such lunches on Day One, and you can look forward to a follow-up interview with one of the lunch speakers coming soon to The bluEPrint podcast series!

Returning from lunch, attendees had their choice of two sessions. In Room 1, Bettina Castillo, IKEA’s Head of Global Supply Operations, shared, “Our Customer-Centricity Transformation Journey,” while in Room 2 Paul Gardner, Mars Petcare’s Chief Procurement Officer, sat down and engaged in a fireside chat entitled, “Helping Build a Sustainable Future Through Purposeful Procurement.”

With these two case studies done, EUSCES attendees next enjoyed a workshop in Room 1 from Chris Cutshaw of TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson entitled, “New Role of Generative A.I in Achieving Supply Chain Orchestration: Featuring Microsoft’s Next Generation Journey.” We look forward to publishing a follow-up interview about that presentation on The bluEPrint podcast series soon too, and in the meantime here is another conversation we had with Chris at NASCES21.

The afternoon’s networking break was shorter than the morning’s, but no less productive and enjoyable. Afterwards, the delegates all moved to Room 1 to hear, “Global Supply Chain: We STRIVE for the Best,” a keynote presentation by Thierry Tricot, Schneider Electric’s SVP, Global Supply Chain Europe. This was followed by an interactive musical closing keynote, “Creating a Passionate and Inspired Culture to Win” from Daniel Myers, his brother Philip, award-winning Country fiddle player, singer-songwriter and recording artist Natalie Murphy, and Nick Hoffman, a singer-songwriter, fiddle player, producer, and television personality who hosts the Outdoor Channel television series “Nick’s Wild Ride.”

Day One wrapped up with a networking drinks reception in the Exhibition Hall that included more live music and a spectacular array of Spanish and international foods.

Day Two

Wednesday, June 21st had perhaps the best weather so far, and everyone had an opportunity to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine before enjoying two fantastic back-to-back opening keynotes, “Generative AI and Supply Chain Transformation” by Mike Bassani, Microsoft’s General Manager, Supply Chain, and “Building A Resilient Supply Chain in all Contexts” by Fares Sayegh, Procter & Gamble’s SVP, Product Supply, Fabric Care, Global Supply Network Operations and Manufacturing Discipline.

At this point Day Two’s agenda broke into two concurrent streams of content in the same way as on Day One. The two case studies that began the streams of content were, “Superior Customer Experience with Resilient and Data Intelligent Supply Operations” in Room 1 presented by Unilever’s Juan Carlos Parada, and “Surviving Being Sustainable” by Dunc Lowe, Campari Group’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, in Room 2.

The Day Two morning networking break gave everyone a chance to both digest the content they had enjoyed so far, and also connect on any prescheduled one-on-one meetings they may have missed the day before. Delegates could also enjoy one of two focus groups taking place in the Exhibition Hall:  “Talking From Experience – What Are the Top 5 Roadblocks on a Digital Journey?” hosted by Bodo Bokämper, the VP Procurement, Digitalization of BMW AG, and “From Service Provider to Value Creator – Evolution of Operations” hosted by Maciej Kaniowski, Avon International’s Chief Supply Chain Officer.

The break was followed by another keynote, “Strategies to Embrace, Reimagine, and Optimize the Supply Chain of the Future” presented by Vineet Khanna, a former SVP – Global Head of Supply Chain from Nestlé, which was then followed by, “Technology as an Enabler of Smart Supply Chains” by Mike Bhaskaran, the Chief Operating Officer of DP World.

Lunch on Day Two included both the general networking lunch option, as well as two more themed lunch discussions. Lunch was followed by another pair of case studies: “Keeping Efficiency and Environmental Sustainability at the Heart of Supply Chain Operations,” delivered by Lelwyn Dsouza, Ecolab’s SVP Supply Chain Europe, and “A Lean Approach to Carbon Neutrality,” presented by Marvin Cooke, Toyota Europe’s EVP, Manufacturing. For those who did not see it ahead of time, Marvin gave a fantastic podcast interview before EUSCES23 in which he spoke at length about some of what he would share at the event.

These case studies were followed by a penultimate keynote, “Procurement of the Future: Partnering with our Suppliers” by Bart Jongen, Volvo Cars’ Head of Transformation, Procurement and Supply Chain, and then the final session was a panel discussion on, “Increased Energy Costs, Inflation, and the Supply Chain” with panelists including, Kevin Delaney, HP Inc’s Head of Supply Chain, Ladislav Dvorak, ROCA GROUP’s Corporate Supply Chain Director, and Simon Ross, SLB’s VP Technology Delivery.

Executive Platforms would like to thank everyone who contributed so much of their time, energy, and expertise to make this event such a success. Stay tuned for news and updates on EUSCES24!

Geoff Micks
Head of Content & Research
Executive Platforms

Geoff joined the industry events business as a conference producer in 2010 after four years working in print media. He has researched, planned, organized, run, and contributed to more than a hundred events across North America and Europe for senior leaders, with special emphasis on the energy, mining, manufacturing, maintenance, supply chain, human resources, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, finance, and sustainability sectors. As part of his role as Head of Content & Research, Geoff hosts Executive Platforms’ bluEPrint Podcast series as well as a weekly blog focusing on issues relevant to Executive Platforms’ network of business leaders.

Geoff is the author of five works of historical fiction: Inca, Zulu, Beginning, Middle, and End. The New York Times and National Public Radio have interviewed him about his writing, and he wrote and narrated an animated short for Vice Media that appeared on HBO. He has a BA Honours with High Distinction from the University of Toronto specializing in Journalism with a Double Minor in History and Classical Studies, as well as Diploma in Journalism from Centennial College.