COE in 2017: The Year in Review

18 events. More than 60 presentations, workshops, tours and benchmarking opportunities. Countless “a-ha!” moments.

The Center for Operational Excellence’s 25-year milestone was its busiest ever, and plans are in the works for another exciting year of programming designed to connect our members to the latest best practices in process excellence. With the new year just days away, we’re offering a look back at some of our event highlights from 2017 …

hban benchmarking
Attendees of the January benchmarking session, which represent roughly a dozen COE member companies.

January 2017: COE started and ended its year with member Huntington National Bank opening its doors to share how it’s driven transformational change.  Huntington hosted the first of four “grassroots” benchmarking sessions, where leaders from more than a dozen COE member companies meet quarterly at a host company to share best practices on a specific topic. Interested in joining the group? Contact session moderator and COE Executive Director Peg Pennington at

April 2017: For its fifth-annual summit Leading Through Excellence summit, COE took hundreds of members to seven different tour sites across the state of Ohio. Here, leaders from member Engineered Profiles show tour attendees best practices in leader standard work, a tour being offered again during the 2018 summit.

April 2017: Buckeyes Football Coach Urban Meyer kicked off the third and final day of COE’s Leading Through Excellence summit, sharing insights from his personal journey and encouraging attendees to always keep a look out for the next great idea: “Always learn. There’s always someone out there doing a great job with something.”

June 2017: How can lean principles apply to a nationally renowned startup culture? And what can big companies learn from it? COE’s popular I.T. Leadership Network series returned with a presentation from Nate Lusher (pictured, left) and Rick Neighbarger from Columbus-based healthcare software company CoverMyMeds. COE is offering a tour of CoverMyMeds’ award-winning headquarters during its 2018 Leading Through Excellence summit.

June 2017: Paula Bennett, CEO of women’s apparel retailer J.Jill, spoke to an at-capacity crowd for COE’s Women’s Leadership Forum series. Bennett, a graduate of Fisher College of Business, recently took the company public, staking out rare territory in the IPO scene: Research has shown that only about 3% of IPOs in the past decade have been led by a female CEO.

talent war wide shot
COE’s collaborative session in July drew nearly 140 attendees seeking insights on “winning the talent war.”

July 2017: A pair of summer sessions COE presented in collaboration with three other centers at Fisher kicked off in July with a look at the “talent war,” featuring a presentation from the Brookings Institution on changing workforce dynamics and a wide-ranging panel discussion with human resources leaders from Cardinal Health, Marathon Petroleum, Nationwide and Wendy’s. COE’s collaborative summer sessions will return in 2018 on June 27 and Aug. 8. Stay tuned for programming details.

Cisco’s Jeremy Aston

August 2017: COE’s summer sessions continued with a look at the “Digital Vortex” and how disruptive competitors are shaking up the business landscape for even the most established companies. Cisco’s Jeremy Aston (pictured, above) kicked off the session with a keynote on the company’s research, which has found that, while executives are expecting digital disruption, too few are actively preparing for it.


brutus buckeye peg pennington
Brutus Buckeye stopped by COE’s 25 anniversary celebration to ring in the occasion with Executive Director Peg Pennington.

September 2017: COE formally celebrated its 25th anniversary on Sept. 15, ringing in a quarter century of driving a culture of continuous learning in the broader business community, complete with a visit from Brutus Buckeye.

September 2017: Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. executive Billy Taylor (pictured, above) closed out COE’s anniversary celebration by sharing insights on how companies can drive change by engaging their people.

COE offers opportunities for students and members to connect at all of its events.

October 2017: COE’s semi-annual Supply Chain Symposium series held its second event of the year, connecting center member companies with Fisher MBA students pursuing careers in the field. Author and North Carolina State University Prof. Robert Handfield keynoted the session with insights from his latest, The Living Supply Chain.

Jeff Sturm, executive vice president and chief continuous improvement officer at Huntington National Bank, kicked off COE’s final event of the year with a keynote on how the organization is driving cultural change.

December 2017: How can we drive cultural change by changing the questions we ask our people? Opening up COE’s final event of 2017, Huntington National Bank EVP and Chief Continuous Improvement Officer Jeff Sturm showed how the organization has instilled leadership behaviors that are helping sustain a years-long cultural change effort. Sturm’s session, along with that of afternoon keynote Tim Judge, is available to stream in full-length and “ShortCut” versions on our members-only website.

Next year … COE already has a number of events listed on its website. Check out our roster – and grab your seat soon for Leading Through Excellence 2018, April 10-12!

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