Attending as first timers, Christine McQuilkin and Georgia Whalen participated in the February 2022 A3 Business Forum Conference in Orlando, Florida to stay up to date on industry topics and make new connections.
As longtime experts in digital marketing for control system integrators, the next logical step in the progression of Rivergate Marketing’s business was to gain a greater presence in the factory automation industry. No strangers to industrial automation and system integration, Rivergate currently services clients in this industry, and prior to joining Rivergate Marketing, I was the director of marketing for a mid-sized New England system integrator. We decided to join and become active members of A3, Association for Advancing Automation.
Time to Make Some New Friends
Rivergate Marketing joined A3 in the fall of 2021, and Georgia and I found both the association’s employees and members to be welcoming and friendly. Attending our first A3 Business Forum was a great experience, and I’ll tell you what we liked about it.
First and foremost, it’s an excellent opportunity for networking. There are literally hours set aside at the conference for networking. There were also several directives from the speakers, such as “introduce yourself to the attendees sitting next to you,” and “find a ‘first timer’ and make them feel welcome” as well as an easy atmosphere for approaching folks you want to meet. The blue “first time attendee” badge ribbon was a great invention and spurred a generous handful of conversations for us.
Industry Information and Inspiration
The conference’s agenda was well planned and had interesting speakers punctuated by networking breaks. Day 1’s opening evening featured Mentalist Kevin Viner and was followed by a networking reception where we met several attendees.
Day 2’s keynote speaker was veteran economist Alan Beaulieu from ITR Economics who shared his insights into the industrial automation industry and manufacturing sector as well as information on where the economy in general is headed. Alan’s targeted advice helps system integrators prepare their businesses to best take advantage of economic conditions in the upcoming quarters.
After a networking break, Suneel Gupta presented Backable Leadership, an inspiring review of his interviews with successful business leaders from around the world. His key takeaways are “The 4Cs” that we all need in our lives, people to act as our:
- Cheddar (critic)
Suneel also inspired the audience to play “The Game of Now” instead of “The Game of Someday,” saying that taking action will lead to having the courage you might have been waiting for.
One of my favorite presentations of the conference was hearing Adam Steltzner talk about his experiences as Chief Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the Mars rover missions. With inspiring images, Adam shared how he shaped future successes with leadership, perseverance and ingenuity. For a space geek, the stories he shared were gold!
I found the most exciting presentation of Day 3 to be Jeremy Dodson and Jay Korpi of NextLink Labs’ discussion of ransomware attacks. Who knew that since the pandemic there has been a rash of malware attacks originating from remote employees leaving their laptops unattended at coffee shops? Apparently, it just takes a moment for hackers to plug in a flash drive and be on their way to extorting money from your company. Your best defense is to educate your employees; it’s not always the high-tech attacks shown in movies that are mounted – often it’s simple yet effective social engineering plots that can lead to disastrous (and expensive) consequences.
There were many other great speakers throughout the conference as well, including Mariah Scott from Verizon, Dean Banks, former CEO of Tyson Foods, Oli Qirko from Cambridge Consultants, Shane Ditterich from House of Design Robotics, Deba Sen from 3M, Rashmi Misra from Microsoft, Greg Smith from Teradyne, Andrew Ng from Landing AI (and founder of Coursera), and Christoph Schell from HP.
Meeting the A3 Community
The conference featured plenty of networking breaks, networking meals and networking receptions planned throughout the three-day event to meet new folks, as well as offering a handy app to help you figure out who you would like to meet. Day 2 featured a networking dinner party with games such as foosball, pool, corn hole, air hockey and more. Attendees were encouraged to wear something from their favorite sports team. Georgia and I both attended as TB12 Tom Brady, coincidentally on the day Tom confirmed his retirement. The sports jerseys and the games offered easy ways to strike up conversations and we met many people at the event.
Our first A3 Business Forum was a great success. We enjoyed meeting the A3 members. We made some great connections and are excited to stay in touch with our new friends. Please contact us if you would like to connect or get more information on our digital marketing services.