Commodity EDGE 2012: Featured Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Rick Blume (delivering a Morning Keynote), General Manager, Commercial for Nucor’s Steelmaking Group, is responsible for Flat and Long Products in domestic and international markets. Previously, he was Director of Sales and Marketing tasked with coordinating sales and marketing for Nucor’s Flat Products. In 2003, he was National Sales and Marketing Manager for the Sheet Mill Group. Blume joined Nucor in 2000 as Sales Manager at Nucor’s Crawfordsville division. Previously, he spent 22 years with AK Steel in operating and commercial positions. He serves on various industry committees, including the Board of Directors for AISI Steel Market Development Institute and AIIS. Blume graduated with a BS in marketing from Miami University (Ohio) and earned an MBA from Wright State University (Ohio).

William A. Strauss (delivering a Morning Keynote) is a Senior Economist and Economic Advisor in the Economic Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which he joined in 1982. His chief responsibilities include analyzing the current performance of both the Midwest economy and the manufacturing sector for use in monetary policy. He produces the monthly Chicago Fed Midwest Manufacturing Index and organizes the Bank’s Economic Outlook Symposium and Automotive Outlook Symposium. In addition, he conducts several economic workshops and industrial roundtables throughout the year. Mr. Strauss also currently teaches at DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, and at the University of Chicago Graham School of General Studies.


Jennifer Diggins (participating in the Public Policy Panel) serves as Director, Public Affairs for Nucor Corporation. She is responsible for promoting the company’s energy and climate policy in addition to overseeing the state government relations program covering 22 states. Prior to Nucor, Jennifer spent two years at the law firm Moore and Van Allen, leading Nucor’s state government affairs work. She also spent 11 years in Washington, D.C. — five of those years as the head of government affairs for the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Jennifer has also worked on Capitol Hill and has held positions in state government. Jennifer received her undergraduate degree from Eastern Connecticut University and her master’s in political management from the George Washington University.

Thierry Decocq (participating in the Public Policy Panel), Founder and Managing Partner of YQ Purchasing, felt there was a real lack of creativity in supporting procurement executives to address tomorrow’s procurement challenges. YQ Purchasing develops and applies new techniques and training that enhance creativity among procurement professionals. It feeds new ideas and approaches in procurement strategies, tactics and processes tailored to its client companies. Thierry’s fields of expertise span mining, stainless steel, plastic processing, banking, glass, and chemical and beverage industries, among many others. He is currently CPO of Novidev, and has worked for deSter, PepsiCo/Tropicana, and The Cotton Group in various procurement and/or director functions. Thierry also advises major multinationals like GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in optimizing their operations. The IPSERA 2010 conference in Finland selected him for its new procurement approaches. Thierry has a master’s in law (F.N.D.P. Namur – K.U.Leuven) and a master’s of management (Brussels). He is based in Belgium.

Mike Zadoroznyj (participating in the Public Policy Panel), Vice President – Product Center, Treasury and Regulatory Compliance Division at Triple Point Technology, has over 25 years of industry experience. He joined Triple Point through their acquisition of INSSINC in 2008 and was instrumental in developing the company’s accounting and compliance software. Over his career, Michel has served as head of Front Office system development for INSSINC, lead consultant for Lehman Brothers’ Global FX Trading System, and has provided derivative accounting and consulting services to many corporate clients, with an emphasis on energy. Prior to joining INSSINC, Michel was development manager at Powers Research, a New Jersey trading firm, where he created trading and analytics software, including a U.S. dollar index trading system for COMEX.

Jason Busch (moderating the Advanced Sourcing Technologies Panel as well as the Commodity Management Technology Breakout Session), is Managing Director at Azul Partners, is regarded as one of the leading pundits in the procurement and supply chain marketplace. He serves as Executive Editor of Spend Matters and is frequently cited by both the business and trade press and blogosphere for his analysis and opinion. His current research interests include the intersection of sourcing and commodity management technologies; supplier management; and supply chain risk management. Prior to launching Azul Partners and Spend Matters, Jason served in a range of roles over a five-year period at FreeMarkets (acquired by Ariba). Before that, he worked in the management consulting and merchant banking industries. He holds graduate and undergraduate (honors) degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Trevor Stansbury (participating in the Advanced Sourcing Technologies Panel) is the Founder and President of Supply Dynamics, a wholly owned subsidiary of O’Neal Industries, North America’s largest privately-owned metals service center. He also serves as an adjunct professor of corporate entrepreneurship at the University of Cincinnati. Trevor has worked for, or consulted with, some of the largest aerospace, medical, energy, automotive and industrial concerns in the world, including General Electric, Caterpillar, and Boeing. His areas of expertise include the design and delivery of supply chain software as a service solution; global sourcing of raw materials, fabricated parts and assemblies; and forming joint ventures and international partnering agreements. He also frequently speaks and guest lectures on topics including “material demand aggregation.” Trevor has a B.A. in international relations and economics from Lynchburg College (Va.) and a master’s in international business administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona.

Sean Timmins (participating in the Advanced Sourcing Technologies Panel as well as the Commodity Management Technology Breakout Session) serves as a principal consultant in the global field operations organization at Triple Point Technology and is based out of the Westport office. He is responsible for consulting in the Consumer Products, Industrial and Agricultural industries. Sean has 23 years of experience in enterprise information technology in consumer products, food and process manufacturing. Most recently, he served as Director of Sales Consulting at Netkey Inc., the leader in enterprise software solutions for self-service and digital signage networks. He has held leadership roles at Workforce Logistics, iMediation, Thru-Put Technologies, Oracle Corporation and Datalogix International, where his team successfully took the company public and was acquired by Oracle. Earlier in Sean’s career, his experience included 7 years in Engineering, Production Scheduling, Logistics and Regulatory roles at Kraft and 2 years at IBM’s Yorktown Research Center.

Jim Wetekamp (participating in the Advanced Sourcing Technologies Panel) is Senior Vice President, Solution Strategy, at BravoSolution. Jim is responsible for BravoSolution’s overall product strategy and support for centralized solution services. He comes from Verticalnet, the company acquired by BravoSolution in January 2008, where he held the same role. A graduate of Indiana University, Jim formerly worked with one of the leading IT companies worldwide, focusing on financial system management and analysis.

Damon Pavlatos (leading the Hedging Strategies Panel), is Principal Partner of FuturePath Trading LLC® and PhotonTrader, and has 34 years of commodity futures industry experience. Since 1978, he has held Exchange Memberships on the CME, CBOT and Mid America Exchange, and has traded futures and options for 28 years, specializing in Index Futures. From 1981 to 2000, Damon managed the CME Index and Floor operations for Shearson American Express, L.I.T. America, Gerald Inc. and Rand Financials. Throughout his career, he has supplied technical market analysis for various index funds, institutions, and exchange members and has been featured at tradeshows, futures seminars and in various trading books. In 2010, Damon became the Managing Director of Futures TD Ameritrade. Damon currently consults as an industry specialist for FuturePath, LBR Group and other futures firms.

Tom Hronis (participating in the Hedging Strategies Panel) is a trader and licensed commodity broker with Future Path Trading. He is a former executive in enterprise software, and specialized in procurement, supply chain management, and the utilization of economies of scale. He has over 15 years of experience in enterprise software. His first trading experience began nearly 20 years ago. He currently holds his Series 3 license for commodities and futures.

Omer Abdullah (leading the Forecasting and Statistical Modeling Panel) is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Smart Cube, Inc., leads The Smart Cube’s North American business. He has more than 20 years of management consulting, global corporate and industry experience across North America, Europe and Asia. Prior roles included A.T. Kearney (North America), Warner Lambert (USA) and The Perrier Group (Asia-Pacific). Over the last two decades, Omer has worked with and consulted to senior executives on issues ranging from supply chain to strategy to marketing and business development. He has been published and quoted in The Financial Times, Bloomberg News, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal and Corporate Dealmaker, among others. Omer has an MBA from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Breakout Session Leaders and Participants

Gareth Hatch (leading the Rare Earth Metals Breakout Session) is Founding Principal of Technology Metals Research, LLC, and is President of Innovation Metals Corp. He works on the challenges and opportunities associated with the rare earths and other technology metals. Gareth was previously Director of Technology at Dexter Magnetic Technologies, leading a team focused on innovative magnetic materials, devices and systems. He holds five US patents on a variety of magnetic devices. Gareth is a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering & Technology, a Chartered Engineer and a Senior Member of the IEEE. He holds a bachelor’s with honors in materials science & technology, and a doctorate in metallurgy & materials, both from the University of Birmingham. Editor’s note: Gareth is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on rare earth metals.

Jorge Vazquez (leading the Aluminum Breakout Session) is the Founder and Managing Director of HARBOR Aluminum Intelligence Unit, which since 1998 has focused on studying the global aluminum industry and providing industry intelligence, price outlooks and risk management consulting to the entire supply chain around the globe. Jorge is an industry advisor to the world’s most important aluminum producers and consumers. He is frequently invited to participate as an expert witness in industry legal disputes and is regarded as a leading aluminum outlook provider. Jorge is consistently quoted in Bloomberg, Dow Jones, and Reuters among others, and frequently speaks at international aluminum and alumina industry conferences. Jorge has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Monterrey’s TEC and completed post-graduate studies in business and economics from the New Cambridge Institute.

Peter Wright (leading the Steel Breakout Session) is the Producer of Gerdau Steel Market Update. He started his own company, Steel Market Analysis Inc., in 2010. Peter spent 51 years in the steel industry, with experience in quality engineering, metallurgy, product development, sales, marketing, operations management and corporate management as VP of the Bar Products Business Unit with Chaparral Steel Co. He is a fellow of the American Society of Materials, a Fellow of the Institute of Materials (UK) and a Chartered Engineer UK. He is a member of the National Association of Business Economics. In 2007, Peter received the AISC Special Achievement award for “Analysis of the structural steel industry that has aided the development of metric-based marketing statistics.” He’s a graduate of Manchester University (UK) Institute of Science and Technology with a degree in metallurgical engineering.

Mark Pruitt, (leading the Energy Breakout Session), serves as Principal, the Power Bureau; Program Director at the Illinois Community Choice Aggregation Network (ICCAN); and formerly served as Director of the Illinois Power Agency. With 21 years of experience in the energy commodity supply and energy efficiency markets, Mark assists organizations with energy planning, project evaluation, procurement processes and contract negotiations. As Director of the Illinois Power Agency, Mark secured electricity supply on behalf of residential and small commercial ratepayer accounts serviced by Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois. He created one of the largest utility aggregations (natural gas and electricity) for the State of Illinois during his time at the University of Illinois, where he managed purchasing on behalf of 27 state agencies and 12 municipalities. Prior to his University work, he developed energy efficiency and power generation projects for federal clients on behalf of Nicor.

Bill Stotzer (leading the Packaging Breakout Session) is a Senior Director with Alvarez & Marsal Business Consulting in Chicago, focusing on strategic cost reduction. He specializes in procurement and sourcing strategy and execution, process improvement, technology integration, commodity-specific cost reduction, demand management, and supplier negotiations. Bill has over 20 years of industry and consulting experience across a wide range of industries, including energy, wholesale, manufacturing, consumer products, financial services and information technology. Prior to joining A&M, Bill was a senior manager with BearingPoint from 2002-09, and Andersen Business Consulting before that. Bill received his BBA degree in accounting from Notre Dame, and is a Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) and a member of the Institute of Supply Management.

Nick Peksa (leading the Chemicals and Ingredients Breakout Session) is the Business Development Director at Mintec, Ltd. Nick works almost exclusively with the purchasing and commercial departments of multi-national food groups and retailers, and spends his life traveling the globe meeting and working with a diverse range of clients and industries. The global spread of Mintec clients includes much of Europe, the US, Australia and Asia. Mintec supplies data and services across a range of products and services including industrial materials, chemicals, dairy, energy, feed/meal, fish, fruit/vegetables, cereals, groceries, ingredients, meat, metals, oils/fat, plastics, pulp/paper, textiles, transport, and timber.

Thomas Kase serves as Lead Analyst for Spend Matters. He has extensive direct experience from both the buy and sell sides of the negotiation table. He has provided consulting to or otherwise supported a long line of Fortune 500 organizations and their procurement professionals, and has worked as a solutions advisor and event (RFx) manager for several solutions providers including Procuri (currently Ariba) and AECsoft USA (currently SciQuest). During the dot-com days, Thomas was the co-founder and CTO of a technology company focused on B2B solutions. Before that, he worked in the Japanese process control, automotive, and IT industries, a stint that lends additional international perspective to the Spend Matters team. Thomas grew up in Sweden and is fluent in English, Swedish, Japanese, German — and has the ability to sound quite convincing in a few others.

Bob Zieger (leading the Plastics Breakout Session) is a Senior Category Manager in Accenture’s Business Process Outsourcing Practice based in Pittsburgh. Before joining Accenture, he spent 11 years in the plastics processing industry in a variety of engineering and sourcing management roles. At Accenture, Bob specializes in the Sourcing and Procurement space and has led several successful Strategic Sourcing and Strategy Development efforts across multiple industries, focused primarily on direct materials commodities such as raw materials, chemicals, plastics, and electronics. Bob holds a BS in Chemical Engineering with distinction from Penn State University and an MBA from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) and Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) as recognized by ISM.

Chandler Hall (leading the Transportation Breakout Session) is a Vice President with BravoSolution based in Chicago. Over more than 12 years with BravoSolution, he has helped to build then lead their Collaborative Sourcing practice for transportation globally, across a wide range of client industries. This has included the development and advancement of applying advanced optimization capabilities to the transportation sourcing process and creating unique transportation spend management solutions. Chandler has a BS in operations research & industrial engineering and master’s in operations research & financial engineering from Cornell University. BravoSolution is a leading international provider of Supply Management Excellence, delivered through software, professional services and category expertise, and supports its clients in the improvement of supply management processes and performance.

Lisa Reisman (MC of Commodity EDGE and leading the Base Metals Breakout Session) is Editor and Co-Founder of the highly acclaimed metals website, MetalMiner™. MetalMiner provides sourcing and trading intelligence for global metals markets and currently ranks as the largest metals publication in the US, according to third-party ranking sites. Lisa’s opinions have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, American Metal Market, and MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show, among others. In her past roles at Andersen and Deloitte Consulting, Lisa gained extensive experience in direct material sourcing, particularly metals-based sourcing. She has also owned and operated her own metals trading company. Lisa earned her MPA from New York University, where she received a Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Administration Fellowship. She also holds a BA in political science and journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

stuart burns metal minerStuart Burns (leading the Base Metals Breakout Session), is Co-Editor and Co-Founder of MetalMiner, and has over 30 years of international metal supply experience, including nearly 20 years running his own UK-based metals distribution business with sales worldwide and a branch in Asia. Stuart is a frequent writer and speaker on metals market topics with numerous white papers, radio interviews and articles to his credit. Stuart was previously MD of Amari Overseas Ltd., the international trading arm of Amari Metals, the UK’s largest metals distribution group, and prior to that a Senior Trader at Stemcor London, running metals trading and arbitrage. Stuart graduated with First Class Honors in Applied Science from Kingston University and is also a graduate of Ashridge Management College’s Strategic Business Management Program.

Taras Berezowsky (moderating the Base Metals Breakout Session) writes for and edits the MetalMiner blog and leads the burgeoning videography department for MetalMiner and Spend Matters. His articles for MetalMiner have been picked up by NASDAQ Community, Seeking Alpha and several other outlets. Taras has a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University, and a bachelor’s from Kalamazoo College in Michigan.