Tyson Foods CEO, Walmart Executives, YouTube Celebrity Among “Rock Stars” Speaking at NWA Tech Virtual Summit

Dean Banks, president and CEO of Springdale-based meat giant Tyson Foods, will be a guest speaker at the seventh annual Northwest Arkansas Tech Summit taking place virtually next week in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 1,000 attendees are expected for the summit, which will be held Oct. 18-21, said Evan Payne, director of marketing and communications for the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is the organizing body for the summit, and the Walton Family Foundation and Bentonville-based retailer Walmart are supporters of the event.

Banks will be one of many guest speakers, including Karen Minkel, home region program director for the Walton Family Foundation, and acclaimed YouTube inventor James Hobson, known as Hacksmith. Besides the virtual summit, the event will also include Virtual + experiences for locals.

Banks has been Chairman of Tyson Foods since December and has served on the Board of Directors since 2017. On October 3, he became CEO and former CEO Noel White became Executive Vice Chairman of the Board. Prior to joining Tyson Foods, Banks was part of the management team of X (formerly Google [x]), an Alphabet Inc. company, where he remains an advisor. Previously, he was Managing Partner of SEED Ventures, a group investing and developing early stage healthcare technologies.

“I’m excited to share how technology is shaping the future of food and helping us feed a growing world that is expected to reach nearly 10 billion people by 2050,” Banks said. “We are investing well and investing in innovation, developing future technologies such as robotics and automation, predictive analytics, mobility and blockchain.”

Dean of Banks

Banks will join Scott Spradley, chief technology officer and executive vice president of Tyson Foods, in a fireside chat at 10 a.m. on October 20.

“We are delighted that Dean and Scott are joining us at the NWA Tech Summit this year,” said Graham Cobb, President and CEO of the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce. “The opportunity for attendees to learn from the president and new CEO, as well as the executive vice president and technical director of the country’s largest poultry producer is phenomenal. This demonstrates the evolution of the supply chain, the importance of technological talent to our region and the leadership essential to bring this workforce here. “

Hobson is a former mechanical engineer who took fictional concepts and objects from movies, video games, and comics and created working prototypes. Every week, he inspired nearly 10 million followers to pursue careers and passions in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) by documenting his creations and constructions. on his YouTube channel, according to a press release. Since 2015, he has accumulated nearly 1 billion views on his channel.

“Fictitious technology is rarely as far-fetched as the movies claim it is,” Hobson said. “It’s my teams’ quest to turn fiction into reality as a way to inspire young people around the world by combining real-world technology with superheroes – like Iron Man and Batman – and show just how it’s cool to be an engineer. “

Hobson received a Bachelor of Engineering from Conestoga College in Ontario. He was also a student at the Technical University of Brunswick, Germany. In 2015, he left his engineering career to devote himself to his passion as an inventor.

“The Scott Family Amazeum, in partnership with NWA Technology Summit, is proud to welcome James Hobson, better known as Hacksmith,” said Joel Gordon, Head of Manufacturing and DIY at the Scott Family Amazeum. “The Hacksmith team embodies the true spirit of crafting and DIY, and they are the champions of STEAM education. We’re excited to bring these brilliant designers to Northwest Arkansas. “

Hobson will speak at the virtual summit at 12:30 p.m. on October 20.

“We are a hub for innovators to imagine, collaborate and launch,” Cobb said. “We are delighted to welcome James Hobson to this year’s summit where we can explore the idea of ​​everyone being a technologist in the modern age. We know that James’ appreciation and dedication to the STEAM fields will inspire Heartland technologists to pursue careers that will move our 21 people.st the community and economy of the century ahead.

Governor Asa Hutchinson will deliver the opening address at 8 a.m. on October 19. Minkel will be joined by Cobb to kick off the first full day of summit programming after the governor’s remarks.

Other speakers include Meng Chee, executive vice president and chief product officer of Walmart, and Shelley Simpson, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Lowell-based carrier JB Hunt Transport Services. Chee will speak at 11 a.m. on October 19 and Simpson will speak at 10 a.m. on October 19.

Famous YouTube inventor James Hobson, known as Hacksmith, will be speaking at the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit next week. The summit will take place virtually this year.

Admission for the Virtual Summit is $ 99. Admission to Virtual + is $ 189 and includes all summit content available on demand for 12 months and the opportunity to participate in three small-group outdoor experiences a la carte in Northwest Arkansas. .

The Virtual + experiences will run throughout the four days of the summit and “will allow participants to experience the quality of life and beauty of Northwest Arkansas as well as socialize with other summit members. “said Payne. “We have developed programming that touches on many aspects of life that are dear to us, including cycling, outdoor exploration and artistic experiences.”

When Cobb saw that the experiments had started on Sunday, he said, “It’s basically my best Sunday of my life. They run every four days, and they run the gamut: from an e-bike tour of Bentonville to ATV 101 to a campfire experience, (and) how to read a [topographic] menu. They’re reopening the Skyspace trail at Crystal Bridges so we’ll be leading a group there. North Forest Lights at Crystal Bridges, Adult Night at the Amazeum – just a few really cool ways to get together safely, which is obviously a challenge in 2020. “

The summit and Virtual + admission also includes the DevOps track, which takes place on October 21.

The DevOps track will include speakers who “will bring cutting edge ideas on how and why businesses need to fundamentally change the way they operate in order to deliver better value to their teams and customers,” said Payne. “The sessions include high-level introductions tailored for business leaders, as well as workshops designed for technicians interested in improving or learning new skills.”

Gary Gruver, President of Gruver Consulting, will speak at 2 p.m. on October 21. Gruver “wrote the book on agile training,” Cobb said. He also highlighted several Walmart executives who will be part of the summit, including Chee; Nuala O’Connor, Senior Vice President and Senior Digital Citizenship Advisor; and Sravana Karnati, senior vice president of international technology for Walmart International.

“These are rock stars who are apropos in today’s world, talking about things that we all deal with on a daily basis,” Cobb said, adding that more and more companies took an interest after the calendar was released. . “You’ve got businesses on both coasts starting to pick themselves up and pay attention and reach out and say, ‘Wait a minute.’ We didn’t realize this was happening.

“So you get these global brands, like, ‘Oh wait a minute, the biggest retailer in the world in these spaces. We should be part of it somehow. Or, the CTO of the country’s biggest chicken farmer is talking, we have to be a part of it somehow. It’s neat how big of a stick Northwest Arkansas swings when it comes to this stuff.

“In a year that has been really tough pulling all cylinders, Northwest Arkansas is pulling all cylinders. Walmart is safe, ”Cobb added. “And it feels like you can reach out to speakers globally, and then deepening and focusing locally with these little events has really been a way for this conference to keep the momentum that it built there. ‘last year and continue to focus on not only technical diving training, but also showing what makes Northwest Arkansas so special.

Link here for more information on the summit.


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