Joshua Jones-UAHuntsville SMAP Center

Joshua Jones-UAHuntsville SMAP Center

This happened to be my first of what I hope to be many encounters with the folks at Institute of Business Forecasting & Planning (IBF) events.  I will never be able to understand how I came to be where I am today in my career, but I am very thankful all the same and feel a strong sense of conviction toward this field.  I can recall at the welcoming luncheon, Anish Jain – IBF Managing Director, stating that “…One of the most critical components of a demand planner & forecaster is passion…” I must say that there is a lot to be passionate about after a conference like this one.

A little about my background, I am a demand forecasting analyst for the Aviation & Missile Command of the U.S. Army.  I am a contractor, which makes life a little easier in terms of work flexibility, but the work itself is far from easy and very different than the private sector.  Being more of a statistician by trade, I understood the analytics and algorithms involved in forecasting but felt it necessary to sharpen my sword as much as possible concerning industry best practices.  This is how I came to discover IBF’s comprehensive educational events such as the one I attended in Scottsdale! 

Because this was my first experience with IBF, I wanted to go through the Hands-On Forecasting & Planning Tutorial to see how my techniques matched up with others in various industries.  Let me tell you… it was well worth the additional $100!  Although I had a working knowledge of a large portion of the topics discussed, it was still very valuable in terms of reaffirming my knowledge and providing  information and tips that I didn’t have prior to the conference.  As an aside, Dr. Fred Andres is a wonderful educator/practitioner and clearly explained some of the more advanced topics that can be rather challenging to articulate without years of experience.   

At the Welcome Luncheon, we were encouraged and motivated by the keynote speaker Deborah Goldstein from McCormick & Co., Inc. and Anish Jain while we sat around the table conversing with colleagues from all walks of life.  One of the greatest benefits that I gained from the IBF conference was the ability to network with all of those amazing people and trade war stories associated with our profession during the various breaks and the round robin discussion session.

The various educational sessions of the second day were extremely insightful, well-rounded and current.   This made it much easier for me  to relate to the various speakers much more easily even though they predominantly worked in industries much different than mine .  It’s exciting to see so many different industries dealing with largely the same issues (forecasting-wise) as I deal with on the government side. 

In closing, there are two comments I would like to make in regards to my experience at this conference.  First, Scottsdale, AZ is one of the most beautiful places to be in the winter and I found the accommodations provided by the Hilton Scottsdale Resort to be virtually perfect in every way.  Second, I truly wish that the conference would have been one day longer.  After the last session ended, I found myself saying, “it’s over already?”  I hope that future IBF conferences will leave us all longing for more as this one did.

“The most reliable way to forecast the future is to try to understand the present.” – John Naisbitt

Joshua N. Jones, MBA
Research Associate I (Demand Forecast Analyst)
UAHuntsville SMAP Center