Atlanta (Nov. 7, 2019) — With an eye toward 2020, nationally-recognized Atlanta accounting and advisory firm Smith & Howard welcomed more than 250 business owners, CEOs, CFOs, finance professionals and human resource professionals to Vision 2019, its fifth annual invitation-only event.
The November 7 event at the Cobb Energy Centre featured Michael Coles, the founder of The Great American Cookie Company and former CEO of Caribou Coffee; Becky Blalock, the Managing Partner of Advisory Capital; Dr. Eloisa Klementich, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta; Virginia Hepner, Corporate Director with Cadence Bank and former CEO of Woodruff Arts Center; Julie Barnes, Director of Marketing for Smith & Howard; Glen Jackson, Co-Founder of Jackson-Spalding; and Dr. Roger Tutterow, Professor of Economics and Director of the Econometric Center at Kennesaw State University.
Tutterow opened the event by focusing on the economy, touching on the expansion, tariffs, the labor market and more. Jackson spoke about preeminence in business, defining it as extraordinary excellence that, once reached and sustained, creates a competitive edge. He also said that one is preeminent “when others aspire to achieve what you sustain.”
Taking risks and overcoming challenges was a major theme of Vision 2019.
Michael Coles, who has written Time to Get Tough with Catherine Lewis about opening The Great American Cookie Company and experiencing debilitating injuries from a motorcycle accident that nearly killed him, went into detail about how he overcame those challenges.
The Leading with Power and Influence panel, moderated by Julie Barnes and headlined by three high-profile businesswomen, dealt with adversity. Dr. Eloisa Klementich, Virginia Hepner and Becky Blalock spoke about the importance of taking risks, rising from the inevitability of failure and facing head-on the difficulties that then drove them to take control of their own careers. The women also discussed what both men and women must do to increase the percentage of women holding C-Suite roles.
Becky Blalock, who spent nearly a decade directing IT strategy and operations as CIO for Southern Company, the third largest utility company in the world, said: “Be a star where you are.” She emphasized that it was important to take risks, take initiative and step outside of comfort zones. To that end, she said becoming a skilled public speaker is critically important, something that is learned and developed.
The goal of Vision 2019 was to offer insights to help companies and teams understand what it takes to be influential leaders who develop future leaders and how to leverage skilled leadership into building a great organization.
“Vision 2019 was an opportunity for Smith & Howard to bring top-level economic knowledge and highly-effective leadership insights to our valued clients and other business owners so that we all continue to learn and develop as we prepare for future growth,” said Sean Taylor, Managing Partner of Smith & Howard and Vision 2019 host. “The flow of information and tapping into some of the best and brightest minds in business benefit the people and companies we work with.”