The 2023 edition of the long-running and successful North American Supply Chain Executive Summit series ran September 11th through the 13th at the historic Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, in Phoenix, Arizona. It was attended by 640 delegates, speakers, sponsor representatives, and guests from more than 400 different companies and organizations. The agenda included more than 65 keynotes, case studies, workshops, roundtable discussions, focus groups, interactive think tanks, and more. Early feedback has been universally positive, and work is already underway to build upon this success and make next year’s summit event 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 times entertaining.

In the Beginning…

The NASCES series has an unusual origin story in that no one agrees exactly how it began. Chicago has been its home from 2015 to 2022 with the exception of one virtual year due to COVID-19, and before that it was not quite branded as NASCES or built exactly the same way, although many of the old hands at Executive Platforms played roles in earlier iterations, and so friendly internal debate about, ‘which of those counts as NASCES’ is a perennial topic.

However it began, the years at the Westin Chicago North Shore make up the bulk of the summit’s history, and almost all of the innovations Executive Platforms has built into its portfolio of events —roundtable lunch-and-learn discussions, focus groups, interactive think tanks, the enormous LED wall behind the stage in Room 1, live entertainment on the Welcome Days, and so on— were piloted at various NASCESs in Chicago. The event grew every year without fail, and soon we were selling out all the rooms in the hotel and also filling room blocks in neighboring hotels with shuttle buses able to bring in attendees in the morning and take them back in the evening of each day.

For several iterations before the pandemic Executive Platforms started running up against the fire marshal’s capacity limits for Conference Room 1 at the Westin Chicago North Shore. Workarounds were tried without satisfying the underlying problem: We had outgrown the venue. The decision to move the series was delayed by COVID-19, and one of Executive Platforms’ first live events after the worst of the pandemic had passed was NASCES22 back at the Westin Chicago North Shore, but upon the successful completion of that event we committed to finding a new home where the series could continue to grow and thrive.

The Arizona Biltmore is not a new venue to the Executive Platforms team. The 2022 edition of the North American Finance Executive Summit ran there last October, and we knew at once it was an ideal spot to grow some of our other successful series. With that said, only gradually have we come to learn some of the things that make this building so special.

The Tequila Sunrise was invented there. Famous celebrity guests include Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas while sitting poolside. Ronald and Nancy Reagan got married and honeymooned here. Frank Lloyd Wright contributed to some of the architecture and décor. The architect of record was a protégé who asked for input and assistance. John McCain conceded his presidential run from the lawn where Executive Platforms hosted the NASCES23 Welcome Day Drinks Reception.

Truly, this is a rare and storied place. We are delighted to have the Biltmore Arizona become a part of how the NASCES series is remembered.

The Welcome Day

Monday, September 11th, was a hot, beautiful day in Phoenix, Arizona. Attendees of NASCES23 arrived all through the morning and midday. Sponsors and corporate partners were admitted to the Exhibition Hall to begin setting up their booths at 2 pm. By 2:30 pm, delegates and speakers began lining up at Executive Platforms’ Registration Desk to be admitted to the afternoon’s special Welcome Day sessions.

The Welcome Day content all ran in Room 2 as our AV team worked to prepare Rooms 1, 3, and 4 for the next day. There were three back-to-back sessions. At 3 pm delegates enjoyed a panel on, “Sustainability Matters: Strategies and Impact in the Value Chain” followed by a workshop from Blume Global entitled, “Beyond Visibility: Generative AI’s Role in Developing the Next-Generation Control Tower,” with the Welcome Day content finishing with a bang with a panel on “Supporting the Women Who Make Our Supply Chain Organizations Work.”

The Welcome Drinks Reception for NASCES23 was branded as a, ‘Southwest Soirée’ and included a cigar-rolling station and a taco truck, as well as live music from artists including Philip Myers, Nick Hoffman, Natalie Murphy, and Alex Lusht all giving spirited performances. Some of our delegates also enjoyed an Executive Dinner at McArthur’s Restaurant and Bar, hosted by Stellium.

It was a fantastic start to a fantastic event.

Day One

The first full day of the event began almost as warm as the Welcome Day, although clouds did start to move in throughout the morning and afternoon.

The Registration Desk opened at 7 am and delegates, speakers, and sponsor representatives arrived to enjoy breakfast together in our Exhibition Hall. 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 fireside chat kicking off NASCES23 was, “Transforming the Supply Chain Ecosystem in The Digital Era” with Gabriel Arreaga, Kroger’s SVP and Chief Supply Chain Officer. This was followed by a keynote, “From Commitments to Action: Embedding Sustainability into the Way We Work,” given by Donna Warton, Microsoft’s Corporate VP, Supply Chain & Sustainability. After that presentation the agenda split into four streams of concurrent content. Room 1 continued to be chaired by Daniel Myers, with Room 2 being chaired by long-time Executive Platforms supporter Paul Damaren, the Chief Revenue Officer of RizePoint, Room 3 being chaired by Mike Curtin, the CRO of Activ Technologies Inc, and Room 4 being chaired by Brian Murphy, Chief Growth Officer of Blue Ridge Global. Broadly speaking, the content of Room 1 during breakout sessions was geared towards Strategic Supply Chain Management, while Room 2 was about Logistics and Distribution, Room 3 was about Procurement, and Room 4 was about People and Automation. Delegates were encouraged to check the agenda on the event app and choose the sessions that interested them the most.

The first round of case studies in breakout rooms included, “Re-Engineering Our Fulfillment Strategy to Best Serve eCommerce and Digital Channels,” which was a fireside chat with Tanja Dysli, IKEA’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, President IKEA Distribution Services LLC, “Revolutionizing the Supply Chain: Accelerating the Manufacturing Process Through Development and Innovation,” presented by Martina Ryall, Pfizer’s VP Strategy & Operational Excellence, “Building Sustainability into Our Company from Procurement to Processes to Final Purchase of Our Product,” presented by Fernando Hernandez, the VP Supplier Performance of The Boeing Company, and another fireside chat, “PMI Downstream Supply Chain Journey: Stepping up Visibility, Response and Partner Programs,” with Sidra Tufail, Philip Morris International’s Director Operations Customer Service LAC (Supply Chain).

Following these sessions, summit attendees enjoyed a networking break that included pre-scheduled one-to-one meetings with other speakers, delegates, and sponsors. Meanwhile, several members of NASCES23’s speaker faculty sat down for an in-depth recorded roundtable discussion on issues and challenges drawn from audience submissions. Stay tuned for more information on that soon!

After the break, delegates had their choice of workshops: In Room 1, “The Future of Supply Chain Decisions. Now.” was a joint presentation with Fred Laluyaux, Aera Technology’s President & CEO,  and Kimball Staples, ExxonMobil’s Supply Chain Decision Intelligence Manager; in Room 2, “Fireside Chat: How Meta Used Algo’s AI Platform to Master CPFR and Demand Planning” was a conversation hosted by Amy Cooper, Algo’s Global Account Director, with Sean Bennett, META’s former Director, Global Channel Operations, Reality Labs, and David Warrick, the Chair, Algo’s Advisory Board and Supply Chain Innovation Chair of The Visibility Council; in Room 3, “AI-First Demand Forecasting: Leveraging Human Insight with AI-Driven Planning” with Sulaiman Panjwani and Joe Slater of Logility, and in Room 4, another fireside chat, “Supply Chain Velocity through End-to-End Supply Chain Orchestration,” with Dave Petrucci, the Global Supply Chain and Operations Practice Leader of Protiviti, Mike Bassani, the General Manager Supply Chain Products of Microsoft, and Joe McBrayer, the SVP Technology of Quantix.

This was then followed by another block of four incredible case studies: In Room 1, Jessica Kipp, HP Inc.’s SVP and Global Head of Supply Chain Markets & Logistics, shared, “Powerful Alliances: Working with Our Partners Internally and Externally to Streamline Supply Chain Processes.” In Room 2, Nolan Smith, Corning Incorporated’s Division VP and Chief Procurement Officer, offered a fireside chat entitled, “Supply Chain Interrupted: How Disruption Shaping has Helped Corning Proactively Drive Improved Cash Flow, Operational Efficiency, Resiliency and Sustainability in the Supply Chain.” In Room 3, Melani Wilson Smith, the former SVP, Chief Global Procurement Officer of PepsiCo, discussed, “Sustainability in Procurement,” and in Room 4, Greg Javor, Mattel, Inc.’s SVP | Global Supply Chain Operations, offered, “DTC – A Look at How Mattel is Optimizing this Channel for Growth Across Commercial, IT, and Global Supply Chain.”

The lunch break that followed included both a general lunch sponsored by Edge Logistics where delegates could sit with whoever they liked and talk about whatever they wanted, as well as more structured themed lunch-and-learn discussions hosted by executives who chose a topic that delegates could opt into ahead of time. These 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. NASCES23 had seventeen such lunches on Day One.

Returning from lunch, attendees enjoyed a keynote, “Innovating with Empathy: How People-Centric Automation Will Enhance Retail’s Future” by Prathibha Rajashekhar, Walmart’s SVP, Automation & Innovation. This was then followed by another block of four workshops: In Room 1, Jordan Kass, the President of TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson, and Gene Evans, the Director of Logistics for Kloeckner Metals Corporation, shared, “Insights from Kloeckner Metals: Transforming and Advancing our Logistics Operating Model.” In Room 2, Michael Conley, the Director, Technical Pre-Sales for Wolters Kluwer | CCH Tagetik, shared, “Building a Risk Averse Supply Chain – A Hub and Spoke Guide to Digital Transformation.” In Room 3, Bernie Knox, the Corporate Materials Manager of Graco Inc., discussed his experience working with GAINS in a client-led presentation, “Graco’s Supply Chain Journey: Driving Global Inventory Performance,” and in Room 4,Eric Lange, Anaplan’s Principal Solution Consultant – Supply Chain, sat down with Kristina Hull, the Product Manager II, Enterprise Insights – Integrated Business Planning of Nordstrom, and Trent Allen, a Director with Spaulding Ridge, to talk about, “Using Connected Planning to Meet Complex Supply Chain Challenges with Speed and Resilience.”

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 an interactive musical closing keynote, “Quest to be the Best!” from Daniel Myers, his brother Philip, award-winning Country fiddle player, singer-songwriter and recording artist Natalie Murphy, award-winning musical artist and television personality Nick Hoffman.  

Day One wrapped up with a networking drinks reception in the Exhibition Hall that included more live music, a tequila station, and wandering blackjack dealers. Many delegates were also invited to an executive dinner sponsored by Aera Technology in the Arizona Biltmore’s famous Aztec Room. The dinner had been planned to take place outside on Renata’s Hearth Patio, but the clouds that had been rolling in all day collected together to offer a terrific and much-appreciated monsoon rain storm as the sun set.

As good a show as Executive Platforms tries to put on, nothing is going to outdo Nature, especially when it brings thunder, lightning, and torrents of much-needed water to the desert.

Day Two

Wednesday, September 13th was cooler thanks to the storm of the night before, and attendees enjoyed the relief as they walked across the resort to the event buildings. In addition to a good meal in our Exhibition Hall, there was also a breakfast workshop running in Room 2, “Unlocking The Power of Digital Planning TwinTM to Gain Value by Connecting Strategic and Tactical Decisions” presented by Lee DeVasier, the VP Network Strategy and Design of Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce, and Carlos Centurion, the President of River Logic.

This was followed by Day Two’s opening keynote, “Mastering Disruption: How One of the World’s Largest Healthcare Companies is Navigating Market Challenges to Ensure Patients Receive the Products They Need” by Kathryn E. Wengel, Johnson & Johnson’s EVP, Chief Technical Operations & Risk Officer, which was in turn followed by “Delivering the Impossible: How to Drive Value Chain Competitive Advantage Led by ESG” by Ewan Andrew, the President, Global Supply & Procurement & Chief Sustainability Officer of Diageo. Two incredible back-to-back sessions to start Day Two off with a bang!

At this point Day Two’s agenda broke into four concurrent streams of content again. David Warrick, the former Global Supply Chain General Manager & Innovation Officer at Microsoft, gave a presentation of his own in Room 1 entitled, “Focusing on the Next Generation of Supply Chain.” In Room 2, Andy Rendich, the Chief Supply Chain Officer of Peloton, talked about, “What Does Supply Chain Resilience Look Like in a Post-Pandemic World?” In Room 3, Dawn Green, Schneider Electric’s North America Procurement VP, discussed, “Embracing Turbulent Times as a Catalyst for Procurement Transformation.” (Click here for a terrific podcast interview Dawn did in the run-up to NASCES23!) in Room 4, Ed Oldham, PetSmart’s SVP & Chief Supply Chain Officer offered his insights into, “Driving Change in the Retail Supply Chain.”

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: ” Resilient Supply Chains Using Agile Network Design & Configuration” hosted by Paul Henry, the VP, North America Supply Chain for Kimberly-Clark Corporation, and ” Improving Real-Time Visibility ” hosted by Sidra Tufail, the Director Operations Customer Service LAC (Supply Chain) for Philip Morris International.

The break was followed by another fireside chat, “Rising to the Occasion: How Global Importers are Driving a New Era of Customer Service in Supply Chain” with Ryan Petersen, the CEO and Founder of Flexport. This terrific session was then followed by another breakout of four workshops. “Making AI-Powered Forecasts Useful to Supply Chains,” was in Room 1, presented by Polly Mitchell-Guthrie, the VP, Industry Outreach & Thought Leadership of Kinaxis. “A Finance Perspective on How to Ensure Supplier Compliance,” was in Room 2 co-presented by Matthew Morookian of apexanalytix and Gregg Maxwell, the Group VP NASC of Albertsons. “Forward Thinking: Axon Transforms Supply Chain Operations to Fuel Exponential Growth,” was a joint presentation by Heidi Benko of Infor Nexus and Will Steenken, the Sr. Director, Global Strategic Sourcing of Axon Enterprise Inc. Finally, in Room 4, “Get Your Data AI-Ready to Supercharge Your Planning and Retail Execution,” was presented by Nick Ciminillo by

Lunch on Day Two included both the general networking lunch option, as well as five interactive think tank lunches breaking down delegates into groups discussing challenges specific to CPG Supply Chains, Food and Beverage Supply Chains, Small- and Mid-Size Enterprises, Industrial Supply Chains, and Supply Chains for Process and Batch Manufacturing.

After lunch, delegates enjoyed another fireside chat, “Rising to the Challenge of New Supply Chain Business Realities“ with Mario Rivera, SVP, Chief Supply Chain & Logistics Officer of CVS Health. This was followed by the penultimate session, “Delivering Differentiated Results: Key Questions to Consider During a Supply Chain Transformation” by Peter Gibbons, the Group President, Enterprise Supply Chain of 3M Company.

The final session of NASCES23 was a surprise last-minute addition. Our chair, Daniel Myers, sat down with his friend Dave Clark, the former CEO, Worldwide Consumer of Amazon, to discuss, “What Does the Future of Technology Look Like for Supply Chain Leaders?”

In addition to the sessions mentioned here, Executive Platforms also recorded seven 15- to 30-minute interviews on site for future episodes of its bluEprint Podcast Series as well as the aforementioned hour-long speaker roundtable special, so look forward to the edited versions of those being published soon.

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 NASCES24, which will be returning to the Arizona Biltmore Hotel September 16-18, 2024!

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.