Recap from a new Members perspective of the DA4S West Coast Conference 2019

Planes, trains and automobiles. Through whatever means the attendees were able to make it to the West Coast Conference, held at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort, were in for a treat! Day 1 of the conference officially started on Wednesday, Feb. 20; however, the pre-festivities began Tuesday with the ability for DA4S members (committee and non-committee) to meet and greet each other, whether it was for the first or the hundredth time, and kick-off another successful annual conference on the west coast.

As the morning of Wednesday Feb. 20 dawned, you would immediately notice, after the 8:30am check-in, that the conference format went through a slight change this year. Instead of being welcomed to the opening remarks of the DA4S executive team, you were able to recharge and network within the environment with veteran, new and pre-DA4S members to learn, in a relaxed environment, the ins and outs of being and becoming an influential member within the DA4S community. As the overall DA4S community consists of both corporate and supplier entities, growing suppliers had the opportunity to showcase their organization and how DA4S has significantly helped them gain market traction and what it means to be a partner in the diverse supplier arena for large life-science organizations.

If you had the chance to meet with the suppliers at the exhibits, you would’ve understood the resonating theme of mentorship spoken in many ways, which would’ve taken you directly to the mentorship program meeting and invite only session to speak directly with the large companies themselves to lend their resources in HELPING you grow your business. I say that emphatically as in all senses of the word, that is truly what they want you to do. To help hone in on the message, the keynote speaker, Mr. Brian Solis challenged your thought on how you perceive innovation and what it means to open your thoughts on creating new paradigms of innovative thought.

If you weren’t on cloud 9 already, the DA4S members got a chance to take part of the Ship ‘n Shore boat ride that departed the harbor in the afternoon. With snacks, drinks and conversation, you had the chance to live a small part of the California lifestyle with many of your peers cruising the shore of Dana point. The boat journey not only was a membership perk, but the warm (and cold) networking you were able to start in the morning, strongly solidified during the trip. Concurrently, the pre DA4S members had the opportunity to learn about the mission for DA4S and how to become members. With a wave of strong and surging interests on becoming members, they were overwhelmed knowing that perks such as the boat ride could be within their grasps.

For those members who were both first time conference attendees and first-time members to DA4S had the opportunity to break the ice, by playing Jeopardy! I don’t know about you but playing Jeopardy with a group of like-minded peers was much better than shouting in front of the TV set hoping that they would hear your answers. With the topics ranging from the history of DA4S and the mission, the new attendees were able to galvanize their understanding and see their future within the DA4S framework. After the mental exercise, all attendants were able to participate in a reception held within the hotel that brought cuisines from all walks of life in a buffet style menu. Not only were you able to dance the night away (if you didn’t have two left feet) but you were also able to meet members that didn’t get a chance to meet at any point previously.

Day 2 started with a continental breakfast then the opportunity to learn about the perspective from the corporate patient. Presented by Genentech, side on areas where innovative research is going and how suppliers can be a part of the process to help guide the debate. Within the day, you were able to network directly with the corporate organizations of your choosing through speed networking and give your best 60 second company download. Day 2 ended with the ability to meet with the corporate organizations, through a reverse exhibit display in which you can walk up to them and meet the peers who are responsible for helping shepherding your company within their internal groups.

As a first-time attendee, volunteer committee member and strong advocate for DA4S, the message resonating with the large corporations such as Merck, Pfizer, Genentech, Amgen, AbbVie, BMS, and many others shows that there’s a 200% commitment for increasing the landscape of not just creating a diverse supplier pool, but a diverse PARTNERING group. It shows through the very active feedback loop to engage the new, pre and even veteran members of DA4S so that the message stands as a testament to welcome new PARTNERS to join in the mission of diversity. I’m impressed that this environment was created just for inclusion in the pharma and biotech community, otherwise I would still be several steps backwards to developing long-term friendships and partnerships in this community.

You don’t hear a singular voice, you hear one of unison all working together to fight diseases and increase better patient outcomes from all walks of life.

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