When SPE’s ANTEC® conference got under way on June 14, in Charlotte, N.C., it had been 1,185 days since the last in-person event, said Dr. Jason Lyons, SPE president and global market manager at Arkema.
Lyons was welcoming attendees to the first event of ANTEC® 2022: keynotes on topics ranging from the economy to circularity, training and new ways—for most companies—to recruit, hire and retain good workers in a tight labor market.
There was also a presentation by the new president and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association, Matt Seaholm, about what PIA will do to promote the industry and communicate its benefits to diverse audiences, some of whom are critical of plastics and working to restrict and even eliminate it as an industry.
The vibe in the conference room as the keynotes began was summed up by SPE CEO Pat Farrey, who asked the audience, “How cool is it to be looking at each other without a screen between us?”
This was a reference to the virtual ANTEC®s of 2020 and 2021. Lyons said Covid-19 forced SPE to “find ways to stay relevant” with learning, business opportunities and networking.
New initiatives include a leadership development course that focuses on what individuals must do to become better plastics employees. SPE will accept applications for this course in the summer.
“Teach the Geek” was developed to improve the ability of engineers to speak in front of audiences. Lyons said a National Institutes of Health survey found 75 percent of respondents ranked public speaking as their No. 1 fear. “How much information is lost because no one wants to speak?” he asked. Teach the Geek is available now.
Another development is SPE’s DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) initiative, from 2021. This effort to promote the hiring, mentoring and professional advancement of underrepresented groups in the industry is a plus for business, and the right thing to do. Research shows companies that embrace DEI have better operations and greater profitability than those that do not. DEI also broadens the talent pool available to the industry and introduces diverse approaches to problem-solving.
More will be posted from ANTEC®.