As a part of the Customer Success Team at Solvoyo, I recently unexpectedly found myself in Orlando FL for the annual Retail Industry Leaders’ Association (RILA) conference. For a recently employed graduate in Turkey, it was quite a dream come true to go to the US and attend an international conference. Packed with a little bit of luck and hard work — I was there to represent my team and build relationships with leading supply chain business leaders to support Solvoyo’s growth strategies in the U.S. For those who have no idea what RILA is, think the Champions League of the Supply Chain industry. Check here.
From SC directors to distribution VPs: all industry leading decision makers from the top US retailers were at this conference. I am not going to wait for the climax to say this; to me RILA was a total BLAST! You don’t see the Supply Chain Director of $450 billion behemoth Walmart‘ or the growing cosmetic and fragrance company ULTA‘s inspiring speakers on the street quite so often! In- fact, you would expect them to be a little cocky and have their heads in the clouds. However at RILA this wasn’t the case at all and I was amazed to see how accessible industry leaders were to new conversations and connections. Although one could easily imagine them to be the Messi’s and Ronaldo’s of their industry, they were at RILA to EDUCATE. COLLABORATE. ADVOCATE.
Despite being the youngest and perhaps the most clueless attendee at RILA — having been in the SC industry for less than 6 months — standing next to 30+ year veterans was definitely a memory never to be forgotten. The coolest thing was the chance to talk to these leaders on an equal level and explain Solvoyo’s advanced solutions to optimize and automate their operations, even in the restroom (not that I am particularly proud of that venue). Unlike my expectations, the eagerness and hunger to learn shown by the attendees at the conference taught me the following:

  • No matter who you are and what you have accomplished, there is always much to learn out there,
  • Supply chain is the definite core of every business, your operations are as strong as your weakest link,
  • Optimization and automation are no longer competitive advantages, they are a MUST,
  • Consistency, standardization, hierarchy, automation, use of analytics and low cost yet high service are the most important supply chain values,
  • Without putting customers at the center, there is no way to make them happy,
  • Working for a company which enables companies to achieve the above goals feels great,
  • And finally, chocolate covered Turkish delights are the key to attracting people to your booth!

To all those business leaders who took the time to speak with me at RILA 2015, a sincere thank you! Your insights and advice made the four days at RILA a career changing experience for me and until next year’s conference — good luck with all the great work each of you do for your companies.