Unfortunately I was not one of the 240 people who gathered in Scottsdale Arizona in mid-April for the Association’s annual Industry Forum. Records were broken without me. After nearly 37 years with MCAA or its predecessor, SAMA, I had to miss my first meeting–it was a transcendental experience but not necessarily in a good way! We’ve probably all had the experience, however, when work and private lives collide. Bottom line: family comes first. And so I wasn’t in the sunny southwest.

I am told, however, that it was not just a record breaking event by virtue of the extra heads in the audience (an attendance up 14% over 2014) but by the quality of the speakers. We owe thanks to ABB Instrumentation’s General Manager, Dane Maisel, who stepped up to the podium for the opening keynote and we send our thoughts and prayers to Brian Hayes (who was the intended speaker) as he cares for his ill mother. Family comes first. I missed the two hours with Doug Hall in his bare feet as he energized the crowd with his inspiration on innovation. Then there were a variety of breakouts including a fast paced session on Negotiating with fast-talking Jimmy Mac McDonald, Social Media with Emerson’s Chief Blogger Jim Cahill, insight into websites by our favorite web-guru, Philippa Games and finally an honest assessment of the current situation in the oil & gas industry by publisher Bob Tippee. I know I would have enjoyed hearing Dave Berkus talk about the next big things to come at us technologically and to get the skinny from my personal favorite economist, Jeff Dietrich of ITR–I think I can still breathe easily until 2018 when I will be solidly on the government dole through Social Security. I missed the opportunity to network with folks at roundtables geared at the functional level such as sales, HR, operations, marketing, IT.

I missed the unveiling of the video that MCAA has produced to encourage young people to consider our industry for their future career. It was based on an interview with Schneider Electric Vice President (and oft-presenter at MCAA’s meetings), Peter Martin. We’re putting this on our website, on Vimeo and on YouTube (and any other places that kids go to watch what’s new and interesting). Search for MCAA Career. And we will be pushing it out to school districts and career counselors around the country as well as reaching out to technical schools, community colleges, universities and engineering schools to start to build bridges for STEM-related curricula and an introduction to the kinds of knowledge that is critical to training the new workforce for our companies and those of our customers. If you have information or materials to share with us, please contact me.

I missed the meeting in Scottsdale but I plan to be at the 2016 event. Apparently the high-tech options at this year’s event were well received so we will have apps and continue on our paperless path! We haven’t starting the planning yet but I can tell you right now that it will include some of our industry’s visionaries with their ideas about the next new things to impact our industry. Look for details in the fall! But put it on your calendar now: April 17-19 in Nashville, TN.