Feeling the energy in Edmonton

The 2014 SCMA National Conference kicks off with bagpipes, a trip back in time and a keynote address by WestJet encore president Ferio Pugliese.

June 12, 2014
by Michael Power
A bagpipe procession kicked off the 2014 SCMA National Conference in Edmonton.

A bagpipe procession kicked off the 2014 SCMA National Conference in Edmonton.

EDMONTON—Delegates were able to “Feel The Energy” while kicking off the 2014 SCMA National Conference in Edmonton. The three-day event got underway June 11 when delegates travelled back in time at Fort Edmonton Park. The evening event, which traditionally launches the annual conference, features dining and local entertainment showcasing the character and heritage of the host city. The networking event also sets the stage for the coming days.

The event at Fort Edmonton lived up to past events with a carnival-theme. Midway games, a costumed juggler, stilt-walkers and even a ferris wheel greeted delegates prior to a steak and rib dinner at Blatchford Field Air Hangar.

On June 12 at 7:45am, a bagpipe procession led off the opening ceremonies at the Shaw Conference Centre. Mike Whelan, SCMA national board chair, welcomed delegates and referenced the theme of energy attached to the conference.

“Alberta is awash in the kind of vibrant energy that drives business success,” he told them. “We meet today with our SCM colleagues from across Canada to harness the power of the collective knowledge that drives today’s most prosperous companies.”

Edmonton mayor Don Iveson also welcomed delegates, noting that the location at which Edmonton now stands boast evidence of human habitation dating back 8,000 years. The location, Iveson said, had long been a gathering place to exchange ideas.

“You can think of this as just another business meeting,” he said. “Or you can think of yourselves as part of the tradition.”

Ferio Pugliese, president of WestJet Encore, acted as keynote speaker. Pugliese noted the tough environment that airlines operated in. In the past decade, airlines have rung up a cumulative net loss of $50 billion, he acknowledged, and 97 percent of all airlines will fail within their first three years. Costs surrounding logistics and other areas keep the industry a difficult one to turn a profit in, and Canada has seen 78 airlines come and go in the past few decades.

“So it’s a tough business,” he said.

While the organization was no expert in corporate culture, Pugliese noted that each time the organization allowed its people to take control they’ve never gone wrong. WestJet is a people-driven organization and its culture informs its brand rather than the other way around.

Brands such as Coca-Cola and Tim Hortons are so well-known because they have an experience that goes along with them. That’s what WestJet tries to do as well, he said. WestJet also works to take care of three areas: its people, its business and its guests. The company realizes it must balance all three of these in order to be successful.

“Not one of those items on its own is more important than the other,” he said. “They have to be taken in tandem.”

The 2014 SCMA National Conference continues until June 13.