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Featuring 40+ visionaries and thought leaders over 4 days, the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit is set to explore “What’s next…after next?” both virtually and in-person starting Monday, October 19. Check out some of the speakers and sessions we are most excited about below.

Note: All registrants for the Northwest Arkansas Tech Summit will be able to access the entire collection of content on-demand for a full calendar year.

The Big 3

$575.5 billion. That is the amount of cumulative revenue generated in 2019 by the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Northwest Arkansas—placing our region just above San Francisco and just behind Seattle in the top 15 U.S. cities in the Fortune 500 by revenue.

The full list of summit speakers working at the forefront of technology at some of the world’s largest, most profitable companies in the world is long, but here are three sessions we can’t wait to attend:

  • Dean Banks, President and incoming CEO at Tyson Foods and Scott Spradley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer are going to share how technology is shaping the future of food and helping Tyson feed a growing world that’s expected to reach almost 10 billion people by 2050 in a Fireside Chat.
  • In his debut keynote, Meng Chee, Walmart’s first ever Chief Product Officer, will discuss how Walmart is using products, services and platforms to design meaningful experiences that connect and enhance the customer and associate journeys.
  • Shelley Simpson, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. will host a panel discussion focused on amplifying the voice of women in technology leadership with several of her colleagues.

Cycling

In 2019, our regional trail network reported an average annual volume of 92,167 cyclists according to the most recent trail usage study commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation. Just a few years previous to this study, a separate Walton Family Foundation report found that investments in the regional bicycle infrastructure had yielded $137 million in economic benefits to Northwest Arkansas in 2017. Taken together, it is not hard to understand why Bentonville would stake its claim as the “Mountain Biking Capital of the World” earlier this year.

The region’s embrace of mountain biking and cycling has also attracted some of the industry’s most respected brands and athletes. Three of which we are particularly excited to hear from at this year’s summit.

  • The Zoom Q&A between Allied Cycle Works CEO Brendan Quirk and Rapha Racing Founder/CEO Simon Mottram about the ingredients of start-up success, the power of brand and customer-obsession, and the role of technology in one of the world’s most formidable cycling companies.
  • Tracks, Trails and Technology talk by world champion mountain biker Kenny Belaey addressing how technology has helped him stay competitive, the emerging tech he believes could transform how cyclists compete, and how he began using his bikes to create works of art.

Cycling

In 2019, our regional trail network reported an average annual volume of 92,167 cyclists according to the most recent trail usage study commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation. Just a few years previous to this study, a separate Walton Family Foundation report found that investments in the regional bicycle infrastructure had yielded $137 million in economic benefits to Northwest Arkansas in 2017. Taken together, it is not hard to understand why Bentonville would stake its claim as the “Mountain Biking Capital of the World” earlier this year.

The region’s embrace of mountain biking and cycling has also attracted some of the industry’s most respected brands and athletes. Three of which we are particularly excited to hear from at this year’s summit.

  • The Zoom Q&A between Allied Cycle Works CEO Brendan Quirk and Rapha Racing Founder/CEO Simon Mottram about the ingredients of start-up success, the power of brand and customer-obsession, and the role of technology in one of the world’s most formidable cycling companies.
  • Tracks, Trails and Technology talk by world champion mountain biker Kenny Belaey addressing how technology has helped him stay competitive, the emerging tech he believes could transform how cyclists compete, and how he began using his bikes to create works of art.

Entrepreneurs and Investors

This past year the Northwest Arkansas ecosystem added two high-profile entrepreneurial support organizations, NYC-based non-profit Endeavor opened an office in Bentonville in March 2019 and Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play Tech Center partnered with Walmart, J.B. Hunt and Tyson Foods among others to launch a supply chain and logistics accelerator in July 2019—both of which will host panel discussions at this year’s summit.

The panel topics include:

  • Startup Successes in a Time of Crisis
  • The ROI of Investing in Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

We are also really excited to hear from Angela Lee, Professor of Practice and the Chief Innovation Officer at Columbia Business School. She is the founder of 37 Angels, an investing network that has evaluated over 15000 startups, invested in 60+, and activates new investors through a startup investment bootcamp.

Geek Out

No technology summit would be complete without deep dives for technicians interested in enhancing or acquiring new skills. If this is what you are looking for, the DevOps track on the final day has you covered. The current agenda includes:

  • Phillip Crippen,  Customer Engineer, Google Cloud
  • Nigel Thurlow, CEO, The Flow Consortium
  • DevOps Workshop with Bryan Finster, Developer, Walmart and Dana Finster, Principal Software Engineer, Cybersecurity, Walmart
  • Zach Sais, Customer Engineer, Google Cloud
  • Thinking Outside the Box, An IoT Conversation panel discussion led by Becca Shaddox, Partner & COO, i2i Labs
  • Introduction to Human-Centered Design + HCD Sprint, led by Erin Tilley, Human-Centered Design Lead, Tyson Foods
  • Nigel Thurlow, CEO, The Flow Consortium
  • Gary Gruver, President, Gruver Consulting, LLC
  • John Willis and Andrew Shafer, Red Hat
  • Brad Corrion, Director, Strategic Architecture, Retail, Banking Hospitality and Education, Intel Corporation
  • Damian Brady, Cloud DevOps Advocate, Microsoft

Geek Out

No technology summit would be complete without deep dives for technicians interested in enhancing or acquiring new skills. If this is what you are looking for, the DevOps track on the final day has you covered. The agenda includes:

  • Phillip Crippen,  Customer Engineer, Google Cloud
  • Nigel Thurlow, CEO, The Flow Consortium
  • DevOps Workshop with Bryan Finster, Developer, Walmart and Dana Finster, Principal Software Engineer, Cybersecurity, Walmart
  • Zach Sais, Customer Engineer, Google Cloud
  • Thinking Outside the Box, An IoT Conversation panel discussion led by Becca Shaddox, Partner & COO, i2i Labs
  • Introduction to Human-Centered Design + HCD Sprint, led by Erin Tilley, Human-Centered Design Lead, Tyson Foods
  • Nigel Thurlow, CEO, The Flow Consortium
  • Gary Gruver, President, Gruver Consulting, LLC
  • John Willis and Andrew Shafer, Red Hat
  • Brad Corrion, Director, Strategic Architecture, Retail, Banking Hospitality and Education, Intel Corporation
  • Damian Brady, Cloud DevOps Advocate, Microsoft

Special Guests

Finally, we wanted to draw attention to a few more special guests who caught our eye:

  • James Hobson, The Hacksmith. YouTube creator, James Hobson, better known as the Hacksmith, has found fame by taking fictional concepts and objects from movies, video games & comics, and making functional prototypes. Each week, he inspires nearly 10 million followers to pursue careers and passions in STEAM fields by documenting his creations and builds on his YouTube channel.
  • Stephanie Pereira, Director at NEW INC, an incubator for people working at the intersection of art, design, and technology. Stephanie Pereira is a community engagement expert with over fifteen years of experience working at the intersection of arts and business. Prior to joining NEW INC, she was a senior leader at Kickstarter where she worked for over six years, first as the inaugural Director of Arts, and ultimately as Director of Creator Engagement where she oversaw strategic growth and management of a global community of over 100K people.
  • Tracy W. Gaudet, MD, Executive Director at Whole Health Institute. Established in 2020 and based in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Whole Health Institute was founded by Alice L. Walton to focus on radically redesigning the systems that impact our well-being and driving national reform to a model that incentives health. Prior to accepting this position, Dr. Gaudet was the founding Executive Director of the Veterans Health Administration’s National Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation.

Even with all of these incredible mentions, we barely scratched the surface—we hope we piqued your interest and invite you to explore more including the three à la carte small group outdoor experiences, designed for those interested in experiencing our region’s unique quality of life firsthand!

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