When you think of networking, do you think of cubed cheese and awkward small talk? Not so for logistics professionals.
WERC annual conference attendees network and create new connections
The logistics and distribution industry is fundamentally rooted in networking, creating nationwide linkages that keep commerce moving. It's no surprise then that logistics professionals are expert networkers themselves: forging new business relationships, exchanging knowledge and spreading innovation.
The Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC)
is the only national association uniting the vast logistics industry that intersects every border and every sector. It offers members unparalleled networking opportunities that serve individuals and the industry very well.
"I know every industry will say networking is important," said Tony Ward, managing director of retail for Accenture Strategy. "It's way beyond jobs and hiring, suppliers and buyers. Networking is about growth for both individuals and companies. It's keeping pace with trends. It's about collaborating on the complexities between source and doorstep."
Today, Ward is president of WERC's board of directors, but has been involved for 20 years. He first joined the association for the education and professional growth resources, but as his career progressed, it became important for him to be an advocate for the industry.
"WERC has a critical role in that it puts forth fundamental tools and processes about what actually happens in a warehouse," said Ward. "Then it levels up with strategies, analyses and best practices to help companies and individuals see beyond their four walls and recognize their place in the bigger supply chain picture."
Jennifer Pazour, assistant professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a WERC board of directors member
Tony Ward, managing director of retail for Accenture Strategy and president of WERC's board of directors
WERC is both a product of and supplier of networking. Forty years ago, a small group of individuals came together to build a network of education and research opportunities geared toward warehousing professionals. Today, its state-of-the-art resources, guides and reports are made possible because of WERC's network of experts. And, it supplies its members with multiple entry points into the industry's network, both on a national and regional scale.
Ernie Elbert, an industrial engineer with Dillard's department stores and conference planning committee volunteer, leads a discussion group at the annual conference
"I picked WERC specifically for its focus on learning and collaboration," said Ernie Elbert, an industrial engineer with Dillard's department stores.
Almost immediately after becoming a member of WERC, Elbert began volunteering on the conference planning committee. Held annually, the conference brings together about 1,000 logistics professionals for peer-to-peer education sessions, facility tours and ample networking events. Registration opens in November for the 2018 edition, which will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina from May 6-9.
"The heart of engineering is looking for better ways to do something and that's what networking is to me, too," said Elbert. "WERC creates spaces for its members to learn from one another and get fresh perspective. The calibre of people they bring together is always impressive and I really value how much relationship-building happens."
A strong networking program effectively creates a cycle of learning and development for people and industry. No one sees this more clearly than Jennifer Pazour, assistant professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a WERC board of directors member.
"In my short time with WERC, I've met tremendously impressive people," said Pazour. "WERC's emphasis on peer-led education lets the workforce dictate what they want to be learning, determined by the challenges and opportunities in front of them each day."
As Pazour learns about new solutions and innovations from her networks, she incorporates the knowledge into her teachings and research, informing the next generation of logistics professionals.
"It's an exciting and disruptive time in warehousing," said Pazour. "We're collaborating in completely new ways to meet the evolving expectations of consumers, driven largely by new levels of e-commerce. At the same time, we have better data and analytics available than ever before, which transforms the way we solve problems and innovate."
Ward and his colleagues all agree that technology has been the most significant source and reason for transformation in the warehousing industry. To outsiders, this is most evident in the proliferation of online retail availability, but as Ward explains, it goes much deeper.
"Decades ago, we were focused on getting boxes in and boxes out," said Ward. "Today, technology gives us the ability for real-time tracking and inventory, new levels of metrics to analyze, and opens up processes to consumers."
T. Ward addresses attendees at WERC 2017 Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas
Logistics professionals discuss new products and services in the Solutions Center
As technology drives change in the industry, it's also supporting new forms of communication and information sharing. WERC members enjoy regular webinars, convenient self-study or online courses, a web-based member directory and a comprehensive library of reports and best practice guides at their fingertips. When they can get out of the workplace, they network with other professionals at regional WERCouncil events.
The most significant networking event on WERC's calendar is the Annual Conference and Solutions Center, coming up May 6-9, 2018 in Charlotte North Carolina.
It's the largest forum for learning and knowledge exchange among logistics professionals, as well as showcase of products and services. Conference registration opens in November at WERC.org/2018
.About the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC)WERC
is the only professional organization focused on logistics management and its role in the supply chain. Through membership in WERC, seasoned practitioners and those new to the industry master best practices and establish valuable professional relationships.
Since being founded in 1977, WERC has maintained a strategic vision to continuously offer resources that help distribution practitioners and suppliers stay on top in our dynamic, variable field. These include national, regional, local and online educational events; performance metrics for benchmarking; practical research; expert insights; and multiple opportunities for peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.
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