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Katalyst Technologies sponsored a panel discussion on global innovation with The Executives’ Club of Chicago, featuring expert guest panelists. Read on to discover the four main areas of global innovation as told by Katalyst and other global companies.

Recently, Katlayst Technologies hosted a panel discussion centered around innovation with the International Business Forum of The Executives’ Club of Chicago, titled “Innovation in a Global Environment: Leveraging People, Processes, and Systems.” Katalyst CEO, Rahul Shah, who is also a Co-Chair for the International Business Forum, was a panelist for the event.

Other notable members on the diverse panel were Howard Dahl, President & CEO, Amity Technology LLC., a global manufacturer of agricultural equipment. Steven Thiry, President & CEO of Fives Machining Systems, Inc., an industrial engineering group that designs and supplies for the world’s largest industrial groups. Dan Swinney of Manufacturing Renaissance, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to build thriving and inclusive communities by connecting them to manufacturing through education, training, and local ownership, and Ray Ziganto of Linara International, a strategic advisory firm with expertise in domestic and international mechanical component manufacturing, were also featured guests on the panel. Ray Bellan, President of Katalyst’s Global Engineering and Manufacturing Practice, was the panel’s moderator.

The panel’s discussion focused on four different avenues of global innovation, human capital and people, automation and its impact, regulatory systems and innovation itself.

On the area of innovation itself, the panelists talked at length about how to manage and inspire innovation across geographically dispersed teams. Rahul Shah shared his belief that the underlying message for organizations was that they should learn to accept failures as they innovate because not every venture will turn out successful. Howard Dahl of Amity Technology, LLC added to Rahul’s belief that to create an innovative culture, one should establish an environment where ideas can be welcomed and cultivated. Another insight shared was the importance of connecting with the customer to achieve innovation and successful design localization. The importance of understanding local cultures and local markets was also brought up during the discussion. Dahl indicated that he visited Russia and Ukraine 90 times to learn its markets.

On the topic of human capital and people, the significant issues discussed pertained to the shortage of people and skills and how it has affected the panelists’ businesses. In addition to the challenges of managing global teams, the struggle of mismatched skills in the labor market were also discussed. Expressed explicitly was the difficulty in filling high-tech manufacturing jobs in the US. In the case of Katalyst, Shah spoke of Katalyst’s global internship program, in which Katalyst sends US interns to its offices in India. When the interns return to the US, they are left with a multicultural experience that prepares them for today’s diverse global marketplace. Steven Thiry of Fives Manufacturing Systems shared his concern with the availability of quality candidates in the future, noting that the average tenure of a Fives employee is 25 years and that a number of those employees are nearing retirement. Additionally, Dahl shared that in order to fill the void caused by the shortage of people and skills, Katalyst could provide an outsourced engineering team.

Panelists also agreed there can be an international risk that comes along with competing globally. At one point during the discussion, the panelists spoke on the impact of US government regulations on US manufacturers who want to sell all around the world. Even when in compliance with the ITAR (International Trade in Arms Regulations) and despite the exported products not being made for military purposes, companies can run into issues with selling internationally due to specific regulations . Fives’ Thiry shared an example of his own. Fives produces automation equipment to make carbon fiber composites that are used to build airplanes and aerospace defense components. However, because Fives cannot export and compete globally, whereas European competitors can, there is an uneven playing field for Fives, who produce their equipment in Wisconsin and Kentucky. As a result, the panelists view regulatory measures of this kind as stifling towards business growth.

That evening, the topic of automation raised questions regarding education. There was a consensus amongst panelists that training below a university degree such as vocational training, commonly available in Europe, was scarcely available in the US. Although workplace automation was mentioned, it is not a significant concern for the panelists as most of them do business in low-volume, high-mix industries where automation is not easily implemented.

The Panel discussion on “Innovation in a Global Environment” was great success and Katalyst plans on sponsoring many such events with The Executives’ Club of Chicago in the future. To learn more about joining a Katalyst-sponsored panel discussion with The Executives’ Club, please feel free to contact Nichole Hembree at nhembree@katalysttech.com.

About Katalyst Technologies
Katalyst Technologies Inc. is a best-in-class software, technology services, and solutions provider. Our business and technology experts are highly skilled and work seamlessly across multiple industries, geographies and technologies. Katalyst’s core areas of expertise are in ERP, supply chain and logistics, engineering & manufacturing, digital & e-commerce, professional services and publishing. Katalyst has offices around the globe with locations in the U.S, UK, Germany, and India. To learn more about Katalyst and the services we provide, visit https://katalysttech.com/.

About the Executives’ Club of Chicago
The Executives’ Club of Chicago is Chicago’s premier membership and business forum. For more than one hundred years, The Club has been a valued resource for Chicago’s business leaders – connecting members, and providing opportunities for strategic relationship development, access to intellectual exchange and world-class speakers, and enhanced exposure to the global business community. Through their signature series programs, committees and networking events, The Club brings together business, civic, and academic leaders from all industries to discuss issues and opportunities affecting business in Chicago and the world. To learn more about The Executives’ Club of Chicago, visit http://www.executivesclub.org.

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