2023 Emerging Leaders Conference

An engaging summer leadership conference designed for young (or young at heart) material handling professionals seeking practical tools to connect with their team, develop better working relationships, elevate trust, and lead with authenticity to foster a collaborative workplace.

Detailed Schedule   Speaker Lineup     Location/Housing     Fees/What's Included Donate Childrens Book  Past Reviews

Conference Overview

Words have power. Power to generate energy, power to ignite change, power to create movement. Words have the power to help, hurt and heal. Words are what we tell others, but also what we tell ourselves. As emerging leaders, the words we use with our teams, our peers and our customers all matter. After several challenging years, your people, peers and fellow professionals want to hear from you. They want your feedback, guidance and leadership to manage in a changing world. The words you use with these important stakeholders are critical to setting expectations and avoiding miscommunication.

Join MHEDA, MHI and WERC this summer in Chicago for a one-day Emerging Leaders Conference. We promise you a fun, interactive day that will give you the tools you need for honest communications, candid conversations and insights on how to keep your work relationships productive and healthy.

Beyond the learning, you will enjoy getting to know other industry professionals who also have been dealing with endless challenges. This one-day event includes presentations, industry trends roundtables, networking with your peers, delicious food and views of amazing Chicago architecture.

Combat burnout by getting away for the day. You will learn, laugh and connect with your industry peers and leave with tools to help you be more productive and successful. We look forward to seeing you this summer in Chicago!

Registration Fees

$895 pp – MHEDA/MHI/WERC Member Rate 
$1095 pp – Non-Member Rate

CLOSED $149 pp – Optional Event – Chicago Pizza Tour (Contact MHEDA for availability)

What’s Included
  Cancellation Policy
Included in the registration fee is: admittance to the conference, all handout materials, full hot breakfast, networking luncheon, coffee, soda and snacks breaks, and rooftop reception. Plus: networking with other material handling professionals who face similar material handling career challenges as you and the priceless opportunity to bring your material handling career to the next level! Does not include travel or hotel accommodations.   The full amount will be refunded if you cancel no later than July 7, 2023. Cancellations received after that date but before the start of the conference will be charged a $300 administration fee per person. No refunds given for “no shows.”
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    Wednesday July 26

  • 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm


    Chicago Pizza Tour (Optional Event)

    Chicago is known for its amazing pizza. You are invited to join us for a food tour exploring different local neighborhood pizzerias. This event is a fun way to meet other Emerging Leaders and enjoy a night out on the town. This is an optional event and registration is required. Registration is $149 per person. Includes pizza, beer, wine, soda and transportation.

    Registration for this event has been closed. If you are interested in attending, please contact MHEDA at connect@mheda.org for availability.

  • Thursday July 27

  • 7:30 am - 8:30 am

    Breakfast & Registration

    Stop by the reg desk for your name badge, then enjoy a hot and healthy breakfast giving you the energy you need to fuel your day!

  • 8:30 am - 9:00 am

    Welcome & Introductions

    Meet fellow conference attendees.

  • 9:00 am - 10:15 am

    How to Say Anything to Anyone: Setting Expectations for Powerful Relationships

    Presented by Shari Harley, MA and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). About speaker.

    Has this ever happened to you?

    • You have a request for someone in IT, but you don’t know how to say it, so you don’t say anything.
    • A project you worked on for six months has become a black hole. There is no information about the status. You’re frustrated but you don’t say anything.
    • One of your customers has unreasonable expectations. How do you say no, without saying no?
    • One of your colleagues isn’t pulling their weight. It’s impacting you, but you don’t say anything.

    Speaking up when we are frustrated is hard and, as a result, most of us don’t. Instead, either we tell other people (aka gossip) or we say nothing, and relationships are strained. You can say anything to anyone and have it be easy. You just need to lay the ground work to do so, and most of us don’t. Keynote speaker Shari Harley, president of Candid Culture, will give you the tools to “Say Anything to Anyone” so you can get more done in less time.


    • Working relationships are smooth. There is less drama, gossip and miscommunication.
    • Candid conversations become easier and more natural.
    • Employees are engaged, focused and performing at a high level.


    Key Takeaways

    • Establish trust in any relationship, laying the foundation to be able to address issues when they arise.
    • Set expectations with co-workers, direct supervisors and clients – paving the way to successful long-term relationships.
    • Determine what’s important to your manager, co-workers and clients making it more likely that you give them what they need.
    • Determine what motivates your employees, so you can keep them engaged and focused.
    • Create working relationships with direct reports, peers and internal customers that work.
    • Decrease silos. Increase teamwork and partnership.
  • 10:15 am - 10:30 am


  • 10:30 am - 11:45 am

    Just Say It: Making Any Conversation Easy

    Presented by Shari Harley, MA and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). About speaker.

    Giving feedback is challenging for everyone. No one wants to hear that he or she isn’t doing a good job. And thus no one wants to tell them. Telling your boss you’re frustrated or aren’t hitting your targets can be even more difficult, and thus many of us say nothing. Worse is that most feedback, positive or negative, is useless because it’s vague.


    • This session will give you a simple formula to make even the most difficult conversations easier.
    • Conversations will be short, specific and to the point. They won’t be personal. They will be actionable.
    • You will be able to say what you want to say, when you want to say it, in a way that people can hear you and take action.


    Key Takeaways

    • Package and deliver difficult messages, managing the impressions you create.
    • Give clear and specific feedback that employees can act upon immediately.
    • Provide feedback to peers, direct supervisors, and others at a higher level in a way that does not elicit defensive responses.
    • Demonstrate commitment to developing employees’ careers and retaining key talent.
    • Eliminate your blind spots.
    • Manage your career, reputation and results.
    • Receive more feedback without showing emotion or frustration.
  • 11:45 am - 12:45 pm


    Enjoy a satisfying lunch with fellow attendees.

  • 12:45 pm - 1:00 pm


  • 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

    Material Handling Business Trends Roundtable Discussions

    Discuss 2023 Material Handling Business Trends. This is your opportunity to hear how other material handling leaders are addressing trends in their organization. You will learn, connect, share and review important themes and issues.

  • 2:30 pm - 3:00 pm


  • 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    Connect for Keeps: Attract, Keep, and Build Thriving Talent

    Presented by Sean Bott, Mind Reader, Speaker and Entertainer. About speaker.

    People don’t leave companies, they leave management (and really bad jokes). Often people trudge along in jobs where they feel unseen, and where their best efforts go unrecognized. They feel invisible. People stay, contribute, and thrive where they are seen.

    The tools shared in “Connect for Keeps” are clinically proven. Learn how to make others (and yourself!) feel understood, connected, and valued. Layer on truly memorable mind-reading moments and a few solid dad jokes, and you will not only enjoy this session, you will be at a loss for words at what you see!

    Key Takeaways:

    • Interrupting assumptions, fears, and past negative experiences.
    • Leading with warm authenticity.
    • Seeing yourself as treasure, not trash.
    • The art of the triple nod.
    • Creating a strong social engine for positive momentum in relationship building.
    • Amazing mind reading experience.
  • 4:00 pm - 4:15 pm

    Wrap-up, Trivia and Prizes!

  • 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

    Rooftop Networking Reception

    End your Emerging Leaders Conference experience with a rooftop networking reception. After a busy day of learning, relax with your industry colleagues by enjoying drinks, appetizers and stunning views of Chicago. Included with your conference registration.

    Conference ends at 5:30 pm.


Jim Ripkey

Jim Ripkey, Conference Facilitator.

MHEDA Member and ELC Conference Facilitator Jim Ripkey is President, Industrial Equipment, for Hy-Tek Intralogisitcs headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. He has over 33 years of material handling dealership experience, including leading sales, operations, marketing, and administration. He has facilitated workshops in areas of training, technology, parts & service operations, and recruiting. Jim has served as the ELC facilitator for nearly 11 years and is a member of MHEDA’s Board of Directors.

Shari Harley

Shari Harley, MA and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP).

Shari is the founder and president of Candid Culture an international training and consulting firm bringing candor back to the work place, creating a safe haven for employees, managers, and clients to speak honestly. Candid Culture helps corporations, associations, government agencies, schools, and not-for-profits get and keep the right customers and employees by creating better business relationships.

Shari’s practical approach to improving business relationships has led her to speak and train throughout the United States and in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Dubai and Australia. And while she enjoys speaking and training throughout the United States and internationally, Shari lives in Denver, Colorado because it is never humid there.

Sean Bott

Sean Bott is a Mind Reader, Speaker and Entertainer.

Whether building deeper relationships as a leader, working with clients, onboarding new employees, or retaining great talent, the tools he provides, creates spaces of belonging faster and easier than ever before. He has studied cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and self-compassion, feeding his interest in the world of clinical mental health counseling. As that journey continues, Sean combines that knowledge, personal experience and mind-reading, to show us how to create warm connection with other humans quickly and authentically.

“Through my study of empathy, psychology, mentalism, and comedy, I provide positive skills and awareness for others to create connection and belonging. I draw on best practices in cognitive behavioral therapy, self-compassion research and social psychology to create an applicable, cohesive tool-set that is actionable, and implementable.”


  • Loews Chicago Hotel

    455 N Park Drive
    Chicago, IL 60611

    For hotel accommodations assistance, please contact the MHEDA office at connect@mheda.org or 847-680-3500.

    Experience Chicago from the heart of the city at the Loews Chicago Hotel. Loews Chicago Hotel is part of a highly visible 52-story tower located just one block north of the Chicago River and two blocks east of The Magnificent Mile—offering city skyline and lake views from the 400 guestrooms, including 25 luxury suites, and spectacular views from public space both indoors and out.

Give Back Opportunity – Donate a Children’s Book to Bernie’s Book Bank

Attendees of the 2023 Emerging Leaders Conference are invited to bring a new or gently used book for children birth to sixth grade. Please no text books, workbooks or reference material.

Reading is the single most important skill a child needs. Yet many children lack access to books, especially books of their own. That’s why Bernie’s Book Bank works so hard to provide free quality books to children in our local areas to build personal libraries. They believe that books and book ownership create pathways to success. With the help of hundreds of volunteers and donors each year, Bernie’s Book Bank is transforming children’s stories.


Reviews from Past Emerging Leaders Conferences

  • The best thing I liked about the program was that everyone was there with an open mind and willing to participate.
  • I enjoyed the interaction and networking opportunities as well as the quality content- this really got people thinking and interacting.
  • The opportunity to refresh things that we have to consider as leaders.
  • Networking with this world class organization.
  • I had a great experience, it’s refreshing to know that many people within our industry are experiencing similar issues. We all want to do better and I think if we take the tools we learned, we can be.
  • Well-organized, action-packed, informative, inspiring!
  • I thought the speakers and presentation topics were excellent and enjoyed the networking opportunities as well.
  • Great job of changing up the program every year and I look forward to always attending.
  • Thank you for all the hard work to put this on great job.
  • The size of the group made it feel more intimate and connected with speakers and participants.
  • Every time I attend I come back with valuable takeaways.
  • I attend each year to continue growing and learning and to become a better leader.
  • There were excellent speakers, and just the right amount of time to keep everyone engaged.
  • My favorite part is the peer to peer collaboration.
  • The best part of this conference was hearing stories from other people and how they got to where they are today.
  • Excellent speakers, very engaging.
  • Fantastic session for all, I have several applicable things to take home with me.



Reach out to our team.
Email: connect@mheda.org
Phone: 847-680-3500