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Full Lineup of Speakers Announced for PMA’s Tech Knowledge, Includes Microsoft, Wells Fargo, and Harvest CROO Robotics


Newark, Del. – WEBWIRE
Credit: The Produce Marketing Association (PMA)
Credit: The Produce Marketing Association (PMA)

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has announced the full agenda for this year’s Tech Knowledge Symposium with speakers from Microsoft, Wells Fargo, and McKinsey and Company. Tech Knowledge offers a venue to bring together leaders in the industry with technology providers to discuss current trends and cutting-edge innovation. The annual event is in its sixth year and is scheduled for May 1-2, 2019, in Monterey, California.

“There are many tech events in the industry,” explained Johnna Hepner, director of technology at PMA. “Tech Knowledge is more than providing a shopping list for new tech; it’s about creating a place for produce industry leaders to discuss positioning the entire supply chain to benefit from new technology.”

The event schedule highlights a variety of networking opportunities to encourage industry-wide discussion and problem-solving including business roundtables and tabletop discussions. This year’s highlight, however, is the lineup of speakers.

“This year, we are going to deliver the big ideas and then go beyond, bringing in the thought leaders and visionaries behind the changes we’re seeing to foster new thinking and spark conversations” said PMA’s vice president of technology, Vonnie Estes. 

On the first day, the schedule will explore how trends in ag tech funding impact the transformation of global food and ag. Josh Katz, partner at McKinsey and Company will open the symposium and discuss new research and insights on the challenges and needs of funding technology to transform our industry.  Next, Wells Fargo Bank senior vice president and strategist Kenneth Zuckerberg will address the financing and adoption of new technologies he is seeing at the local and farm level.  Wrapping that day, Vonnie Estes will moderate a discussion between Paul Bissett, chief executive officer of Harvest CROO Robotics and Nolan Paul, partner at Yamaha Motor Ventures. The three will draw from their own experiences to discuss a pragmatic path forward to bring important technologies to our industry. 

The second day of the schedule continues with high caliber speakers covering the real change happening in and around tech that will impact the produce and floral industries. Opening the day, Vonnie Estes will share what companies need to do and need to know about new technology to position themselves for success.  Seana Day, partner at Better Food Venture and Mixing Bowl, will address tech and innovation in the post-harvest “messy middle.” After a networking break, Microsoft’s chief scientist Ranveer Chandra will speak to Mircosoft’s work in ushering in a new age of precision and digital farming.  Closing the day, PMA CEO Cathy Burns and CTO Dr. Bob Whitaker will lead a dynamic discussion on what all these influences mean for the produce industry and the future of food. In addition to educational programming, the event also features Business Roundtables and the Career Pathways Program. Business Roundtables bring an opportunity for networking between attendees and technology companies that provide business solutions. Participation is application based, so anyone interested in participating, especially technology providers should contact Johnna Hepner at jhepner@pma.com by March 21.

Career Pathways is supported by corporate contributions to Center for Growing Talent’s Industry Talent Fund and sends 16 students from 4 universities to attend Tech Knowledge and network with industry members. Each student is paired with an industry mentor who serves as a Career Ambassador on-site.  Students also attend customized education sessions and an industry tour as well as the Tech Knowledge programming. The Career Pathways initiative is an important part of Center for Growing Talent’s strategy to attract new talent and two thirds of the students who participated in the program received an internship or job in the industry. 

“When we think about the unique set of challenges our industry faces like labor shortages, addressing growing demand in a high-risk environment, resource scarcity and the changing expectations of consumers – all solutions require technology,” said Estes. “Tech Knowledge will provide an inside look not only at how the tech landscape will change, but how our businesses can prepare themselves now to take advantage of that innovation tomorrow.”  

Registration for Tech Knowledge is currently open and the full agenda is listed.

About Produce Marketing Association
Produce Marketing Association (PMA) is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing connections that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit www.pma.com.


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