The last virtual event?

The dawn of post-pandemic life is rising in some parts of the world. The majority of U.S. adults are vaccinated or partially so. There are pockets where life is returning to something that resembles pre-pandemic. There are also parts of the world where the coronavirus continues to ravage communities and serves as a reminder we must stay vigilant to the risks posed by this pathogen.

A little more than a year ago we were just learning about the emerging threat of the coronavirus, and some of us were willing and eager to avoid high-risk activities. Business and educational events are just those activities. With hundreds or thousands of individuals gathering in a confined indoor space, these gatherings are natural super-spreader events. In response, many events embraced technology and moved online — so-called “virtual events.” Meetings, family gatherings, happy hours, and many other activities did so as well. Initially, these virtual gatherings were novel and offered a glimpse of a commute-free future.

Five million zoom calls later and some of us rethinking these virtual gatherings. For all their virtues, something is missing. Something fundamental to being human.

In truth, there are advantages to video conferencing — doesn’t that term seem quaint in the era of Zoom — and online event platforms are here to stay. Some people prefer these fully virtual gatherings. I do not and look forward to the return of (some) in-person events.

For this reason, I am helping organize what might be the last virtual event. Or at least the last fully virtual event I hope to organize.

This event has been all-consuming these past few weeks and has taken most of the energy previously used for this newsletter. Events — virtual and in-person — are a lot of work! And I would way rather be sampling catering options than demoing tech platforms right now, but c’est la vie.

I also long for the hours I used to spend absorbed in current events, deep in the weeds of supply chain research, writing this newsletter. To get this event across the finish line, however, I need to put this newsletter on hold for a few more weeks. I will be back in June with the next edition of Supply Chain Weekly — this virtual event I am helping organize is May 13-14 and I am giving myself a little time off!

While I have you here, I would encourage you to take take a look at this “last” virtual event we are organizing. We worked hard to put together a lineup of speakers on everything from drones and air logistics, to medicine distribution in low- and middle-income countries, cutting-edge research and innovation, resiliency and sustainability, and the future of supply chains! We also put a lot of thought into virtual “networking” and are leveraging the best technologies — which are not cheap — we could find.

The event is a collaboration between a group of supply chain professionals in the greater Seattle area. One of the highlights of this collaboration for me is working with students at the University of Washington Bothell, who put a lot of time and effort into this event.

The event is not free, however, 100% of the proceeds (after the credit card processors take their cut) will be donated to the student Supply Chain Management Club at UW Bothell and the Drones for Health program by VillageReach. This program will improve access to vaccines, medicines, and lab testing for 700,000 people in remote Malawi and Mozambique.

If you’re like me, and not interested in a virtual event, I would still encourage you to register and attend to support the students who will be there. Many of these students are graduating from college after a year of virtual education. And even though virtual “networking” may not be interesting to you — likewise for me — these students have no choice but to start their professional life in this pandemic. They need advice. They need connections. They need jobs.

See you virtually on May 13 at!

- Kellen

Have thoughts or feedback? I know I missed a lot this week! Email me at You also can reach me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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