KEYNOTE SESSION: “Engaging Employees and Stakeholders During Fundamental Company and Industry Transitions”

Paula Silver, Vice President of Communications, DTE Energy

Communications professionals are often at the center of organizational transitions and one of the key drivers of change today is environmental responsibility. DTE Energy’s Executive Chairman Gerry Anderson has identified climate change as the defining issue of our time. The company’s aggressive plan to reduce carbon and methane emissions 80 percent by 2040 requires a wholesale change in the way DTE generates and distributes power while keeping energy costs affordable and reliable. Paula Silver facilitates a group discussion on managing communications during wholesale change among employees, regulators, government officials, customers and communities.


M15: “Applying a Military Mindset to Today’s Toughest Communication Challenges”

Donna Edwards, Corporate Communications, Media and Community Relations, U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command
Bill Grotz, Director of Communications, General Motors Defense LLC

Join two former military officers as they share strategies and insights for addressing some of today’s most vexing communication challenges. From harnessing the innovation of a start-up inside an established corporation to working with limited resources to building a community relations division from the ground up, Donna Edwards and Bill Grotz share how they’re applying lessons learned to be successful in their communication roles. They’ll show that it doesn’t take an army—just a military mindset—to get the results you want.


T3: “Selling Cultural Transformation to the C-Suite”

Richard Byrd, Vice President Cultural Transformation, Sprinklr

Many CEOs don’t fully understand the importance of culture in building a high-performing, profitable enterprise with happy customers and employees. In this session, learn how to sell the value of culture and use it as a lever for increasing ROI and improving employee and customer satisfaction. The session also includes techniques and technology to make the case to the C-Suite for a cultural transformation plan. Speaker Richard Byrd draws on his experiences and big wins at companies such as Allscripts, Qlik, McGraw-Hill Education and Nortel Networks, as well as his current company, Sprinklr.  


How a Communications Team in India Went from Order-Takers to Trusted Advisors

James Irwin, ABC, Communications Lead, Global Clients & Industries Marketing, Deloitte

Business is increasingly global and successful business communication increasingly depends on effective virtual teams. But how well do we integrate these teams into our operations? James Irwin shares a case study from Deloitte’s Global Clients & Industries organization, which established a new marketing and communications team in Hyderabad, India. While the India team was comprised of experienced professionals, their initial role was anonymous and transactional. This session follows the journey of the India team as they became fully engaged in the new organization and grew into trusted advisors, leading with innovation and cross-team integration.


What’s Good for Interns is Good for Leaders

Jennifer Fry, Provider Web Services Team Lead II, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MichiganMichelle Utykanski, Risk Management & Patient Relations Specialist, Metro Heath, University of Michigan Health

Internships are an important part of any communications training. As staffs shrink and budgets tighten, it’s more important than ever for interns to be productive members of the team. How can a manager accomplish this while still allowing interns to expand their knowledge, skills and abilities? What difference can a “good” internship experience make in the life of a future communicator? Hear interview tips and project suggestions from a leader and a case study from a recent intern. This session also offers a chance for participants to share their own experiences as both interns and managers.



Attorneys as Allies: Balancing Stakeholder Needs with Legal Concerns in a Crisis

Deb Hileman, SCMP, IABC Executive Board Member; President & CEO, Institute for Crisis Management

Public relations professionals and attorneys often seem to have opposing goals in crisis communications. While PR pros are focused on humanizing a crisis with transparency and protecting the organization’s reputation in the court of public opinion, attorneys are concentrating on the court of law and minimizing the risk of adverse legal action. In this session, Deb Hileman explains how attendees can use preventive crisis management strategies and shared goals to help attorneys get comfortable with strategy and the initial statements that need to be made quickly when a crisis erupts.


Culture 911: Does Yours Need Resuscitation?

Mark Schumann, ABC, IABC Fellow; Vice President of Culture, Sabre Corp.

In any organization, leaders can assume a culture is healthy. But what do they actually know about what happens beneath how employees respond to engagement surveys? A culture’s true health is more tied to how employees work than what message an organization shares. In this provocative session, Mark Schumann, a 17-time Gold Quill winner and IABC Fellow, provides practical suggestions on how to diagnose a culture’s health, dissect what may hold a culture back, and develop solutions to what ails a culture, so the organization can become a better place for employees to do their best work.


How Toyota Transitioned from Recalls to Recovery: A Case Study

Curt McAllister, 2018 IABC Detroit Communicator of the Year; Midwest Public Relations Manager, Toyota North America

During the first half of 2010, the crisis facing Toyota dominated headlines around the world.  With more than 8 million vehicles recalled globally, the world’s largest automaker saw its sterling reputation diminish in a matter of weeks. A company known for quality and reliability was now relegated to punch-line status. Curt McAllister discusses how communications played a pivotal role in reaching out to vital internal and external audiences. He’ll share how public relations helped assure the industry’s most loyal customer base, and forge an even tighter bond between the automaker and its national dealer body.


Advancing Inclusion and Diversity in Today’s Workplace

Rebecca Duff-Campbell, Senior Director of Talent & Rewards, Willis Towers WatsonKarolyn Karl, Director of Talent & Rewards, Willis Towers Watson

Inclusion is the key to attracting, retaining and engaging the best employees in the industry. It has become a priority for the majority of organizations, no matter the industry, age or makeup of employees. Organizations have to move away from compliance-oriented diversity quotas and embed inclusion and diversity in their business strategy and talent value proposition. In this session, we will discuss the inclusion and diversity journey, how successful companies are achieving their goals and why it matters to the bottom line, leveraging our Willis Towers Watson research and data for a basis of the discussion.


Ensuring that “Transformation” Isn’t a Crisis

Courtney Boone, Vice President of Global Communications, Westinghouse Electric Company

How do you communicate to employees during a $6.3 billion write-down of a global company…and continue those communications when filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy three months later? Courtney Boone shares how the world’s premier nuclear energy company sustained and improved communications with employees during a nearly two-year period of crisis. This case study provides attendees with a comprehensive view of the communications strategy employed as the company faced extensive transformation efforts. Professional communicators need to understand the importance of increasing internal communications and touchpoints during these times in order to ensure consistent, safe delivery upon commitments.