UID Sneak Peek: Abe Walton on Distributor Innovation and Generational Differences

Written by Mike Marks on Thursday, 19 December 2019. Posted in Distribution

UID Sneak Peek Abe WaltonIndian River Consulting Group is proud that of the 56 sessions offered at the University of Innovative Distribution in 2020 that we were chosen to lead eight. We are the only firm with multiple instructors in the program. Partner Abe Walton will teach about leading with innovation, as well as how to increase engagement across different generations of employees.

In this Q&A, he provides a preview:

Why are you excited to present at UID?

I’m excited to be one of four IRCG instructors at this year’s UID event. It’s a compliment to be representing IRCG at a program with a reputation for worldwide excellence and impact.

Talk a little about your course, Leading for Innovation.

This course will lead students through concepts centered on the art and science of innovation, with action items geared toward meeting customer needs. We’ll walk through methods such as how to look ahead for the long term, define a course of action using the right tools and data, and establish metrics to measure your success as you innovate to drive return on investment.

You’re also teaching a course on increasing engagement, especially across generational divides. What will this entail?

Authentic leadership is a must for building a motivated and engaged workforce. It’s also essential for understanding how generational differences impact one’s approach to work. These days, leaders need to move beyond a surface level of generational understanding, and instead build bridges between the differences in communication and decision-making styles, training and development needs, conflict-resolution styles, and overall job expectations. In the course, I’ll introduce intergenerational selection and management techniques like succession planning, mentoring programs and using behaviorally anchored rating scales and interview questions.

What do you hope attendees will take away from the sessions?

I hope people will grasp how leading for innovation can involve actionable, methodical steps using real data and tools. In other words, innovation can be accessible with the right approach. In terms of generational knowledge, I hope that people see how authentic and effective intergenerational leadership can increase workplace engagement and even create a competitive advantage by fostering of a culture of inclusiveness and collaboration.

About the Author

Mike Marks

Mike Marks

Mike Marks co-founded IRCG in April 1987. He began his consulting practice after working in distribution management for more than 20 years. Over the years, his narrow focus in B2B channel-driven markets has created an extensive number of deep executive relationships within virtually every business vertical in construction, industrial, OEM, agricultural, and healthcare.

Mike has led project teams that improve market access by aligning resources to growth opportunities serving manufacturers, dealers, and distributors. Clients have ranged from small privately owned firms to many of the industry’s market share leaders. Ownership structures have included owner-operators, private equity, ESOPs, and publically traded firms. Mike is proud of the teams work and the confidence clients have shown with additional project work.

He has written extensively, and is frequently quoted on many industry issues. He has substantial board experience on both public and private distribution firms. His contributions to the field include serving multiple terms as a Research Fellow with the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, permanent faculty at Purdue University’s University of Industrial Distribution, eight years as Graduate Adjunct Faculty in the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A & M University, and rendering several precedent-setting expert opinions in contract disputes between manufacturers and distributors.

Prior to forming IRCG, Mike held the position of Executive Vice President at Lex Electronics, an $800 million vertically integrated electronics distributor in Stamford, CT. Mike’s path to management in his early career was through increasing responsibilities in sales and sales management. He also completed a tour of duty as a manufacturer’s representative.

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