Seminar Preview: AEP, Abbott show agility, resilience in changing times

The two featured speakers at the Center for Operational Excellence’s upcoming quarterly seminar might be from two wildly different industries, but they’re both bringing stories that illustrate a stark truth about the world today: The rules of the game are changing, and standing still isn’t an option.

Mark McCullough, AEP
Mark McCullough, AEP

COE on Friday, Feb. 13, is hosting from member American Electric Power Company Inc. Mark McCullough, executive vice president of generation. Taking the stage in the afternoon is Matthew Roberts, divisional vice president of global product development for founding member Abbott Nutrition.

In the greater Columbus area, AEP and Abbott each rank among its 50 largest employers, with a combined local payroll of nearly 6,000, according to research from Columbus Business First.

While both companies have well-deserved reputations as leaders in their respective industries, they also share common ground in facing serious external headwinds in recent years .

For AEP, it’s national and state-level energy policies that can have far-reaching implications for the company’s short- and long-term growth strategies and generation profile. Just in the last half-decade, AEP has seen its home state – where its AEP Ohio subsidiary lights up nearly 1.5 million customers – decisively shift toward electricity deregulation, leaving behind the days of a more predictable fixed-rate structure.

Matthew Roberts, Abbott Nutrition
Matthew Roberts, Abbott Nutrition

As the purveyor of products ranging from Similac to Ensure, Abbott Nutrition not only is at the mercy of changing customer tastes but shifting demographics – namely longer-living seniors. At the turn of the new century, people ages 65 and older in the U.S. represented about one in eight Americans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates they’ll represent one in five just 15 years from now.

On a day-to-day level, these changes to the business environment have spurred each company to action in different ways. For AEP, this has taken the form of a still-young but promising lean transformation that grew out of the company’s generation facilities, closely linked to traditional “shop floor” applications of its principles, and has steadily made its way to more “invisible” processes across the organization, namely information technology. Abbott, meanwhile, has mounted an organizational transformation of its people and processes within its research and development function as it fills its innovation pipeline and drives growth.

Don’t miss the chance to hear from McCullough and Roberts on what they’ve learned along the way and what the future holds for their organizations.

At a glance

  • Date: Friday, Feb. 13, 2015
  • Time: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (networking lunch included)
  • Location: The Blackwell, 2110 Tuttle Park Place, Columbus, OH
  • Register here

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