Annual Conference is the crown jewel of the NASPO conference season. The 2019, event in Grand Rapids, Michigan was no exception. This year’s conference featured quality speakers offering content-rich sessions, fun networking receptions and a keynote speaker who was truly a gem.
The 2019 Annual Conference began with an optional preconference Procurement U training. A Seat at the Table: Central Procurement as a Strategic Leader, was an engaging, instructor-led training course, exploring strategies and practical examples to help position the central procurement office as an invaluable piece of the state’s strategic mission. Instructor William “Bill” Leighty, formerly with the State of Virginia serving as Chief of Staff to multiple administrations and current Senior Advisor to the Dean for Virginia Commonwealth University, discussed the top 10 things that can go wrong during a change in gubernatorial administrations, providing real-world examples of how to build relationships during transitions. Leighty left the crowd with this precious nugget of advice: “Don’t let your Governor read about a procurement scandal first; never blindside your administration.”
Dr. Bryan Williams kicked off the opening session of the annual conference with a keynote address, rallying attendees to “Lead a Five-Star Team” by inspiring members to make mindful, deliberate improvements to their lives. “Leave evidence that you were there,” Williams exclaimed to a crowd of over 180 attendees representing 48 states. In addition to delivering the keynote address, Williams led a breakout session focused on customer service, which was equally inspiring. Williams consented to having his breakout session recorded, allowing for his message to reach a broader audience of NASPO members. Be on the lookout for the audio from this session, which will be available exclusively to NASPO members for three months via the NASPO Network!
The centerpiece of every NASPO conference is the opportunity for partnership and networking with fellow public procurement professionals. NASPO members rave that there is no other resource quite so valuable as the relationships and connections that are made possible through NASPO events. Whether attending any one of the variety of daily breakout sessions, nightly receptions, topical roundtables, meetings with an assigned learning group, chatting with fellow attendees between sessions or working collaboratively during the annual NASPO Cares service project, the opportunity for engagement and conversation between attendees is an important facet of any successful NASPO conference.
In 2019, NASPO was excited to welcome 56 annual conference first timers to Grand Rapids. This year, NASPO launched a new Ambassador program, pairing veteran attendees with newcomers to enhance the conference experience for both participants. Establishing that early connection between these two groups of attendees helped enhance the conference experience for both new and returning participants.
The annual conference wrapped up with a celebratory dinner, at which the 2019 Gold, Silver and Bronze Cronin Awards recipients were announced, along with the revealing the 2019 Mazzone Distinguished Service Award winner. NASPO President Lisa Eason also recapped her experience over the last year, expressing her appreciation to fellow Board members and other NASPO leaders for their contributions and support during her tenure.
Next year, NASPO will travel to National Harbor, Maryland for the 2020 Annual Conference, August 30-September 2. Stayed tuned for more details.
Have you attended a NASPO Conference before? What was your favorite part? Tell us all about it in the comments below!