Networking: The Heart of Product Stewardship 2018

Ask anyone who was at Product Stewardship 2018 and they’ll tell you one of the most valuable parts of attending the conference is the opportunity to network with their fellow product stewards. “Product stewards are often the only ones at their company,” one attendee observed, which made meeting colleagues from around the world a valuable opportunity.

This year, the Product Stewardship Society decided to help foster these connections through the Exchange, a dedicated networking space where attendees could gather to meet, interact with conference partners, and get some caffeine or snacks between sessions.

The Exchange was a hub of activity throughout the entire conference. Hands were in motion, emphasizing excited conversations. Old friends embraced and new connections were cemented over the exchange of business cards. People walked up to each other to introduce themselves with a handshake and genuine interest in what was going on in the other’s company. With about half of the attendees coming for their first time, this welcoming atmosphere helped people settle in with confidence. Over lunch, 30 year veterans sat next to first year product stewards.

One attendee remarked that what she loved about Product Stewardship 2018 was the ability to hear how other organizations addressed common problems that she experienced in her daily work. Given the variety of backgrounds among product stewards, the conference gave people the opportunity to hear what people from different disciplines were interested in.

The Exchange was also home to another first time event: the Headshot Café. Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, attendees had the opportunity to get an image by a professional photographer for use on LinkedIn or in other professional forums. Three cosmetologists applied makeup to help attendees look their best before their moment in front of the camera. It was no surprise there was a line out the door for the Café.

One small detail demonstrated that this was truly a gathering of product stewards: several attendees could be seen sorting their trash into recycling and compost throughout the conference. Many meeting materials were provided courtesy of a conference app for smartphones that eliminated the need for paper versions. Even when they’re out of the office, product stewards are always thinking sustainably.

On the last day of the conference the Exchange had closed, but attendees still jammed the halls between sessions to continue networking and connecting. No sooner would a product steward end one conversation than someone else would engage them in another.

Keep an eye out for more information about Product Stewardship 2019, taking place September 10-12, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. Don’t miss out on the next great opportunity to be a part of this vibrant community!


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