Innovation Speakers Lineup Brings Executive Back to UnleashWD

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UnleashWD brings an unprecedented lineup of of Innovation Speakers to the only Innovation Summit for the wholesale distribution industry. Join Cindy Davidson, Vice President of Sales Operations for Cardinal Health, at UnleashWD October 29-30 in Chicago.

“The biggest challenge for this year’s UnleashWD is living up to last year’s speakers and the interaction between the attendees," Cindy Davidson, Vice President of Sales Operations at Cardinal Health said.

For Cindy Davidson, Vice President of Sales Operations for Cardinal Health distribution is not just a part of business – it may be a matter of life or death.

“In healthcare your customer is a patient on an operating table,” Davidson says. “Think about it from the perspective of a patient or the family of a patient. How much would it disrupt their lives to find out that your product is not there because the truck did not make it?”

Distribution is often just expected to happen according to Davidson, but when breakdowns occur it creates major financial losses. And the process of healthcare distribution has become increasing complex.

Cardinal Health feels the pressures facing the entire distribution industry, but healthcare also faces the additional matters of government regulations, quality concerns and price pressures from customers. Cardinal Health continues to work toward finding innovative ways to keep costs down and quality up, while offering additional services to customers. These values found a natural partner in UnleashWD.

Dirk Beveridge founded UnleashWD, the only innovation summit for the wholesale distribution industry, in order to bring the best ideas from other industries into distribution. This process known as “lift and shift” led Beveridge to bring in 18 speakers from outside of the industry to inspire distribution companies to change and embrace new business models. The idea of UnleashWD appealed to Davidson.

“I first heard about UnleashWD on a phone call from my old friend Dirk Beveridge who I had known in high school,” Davidson says. “Dirk was always a spark of energy. He called and started to talk about this idea (UnleashWD). After all these years we still had the same connection, the same outlook of, ‘if you stay in the confines of your own industry you limit what you can do.’ When he talked about bringing in speakers who were good storytellers from outside of distribution, my reaction was, ‘Sign me up’.”

She not only agreed to attend UnleashWD but also to serve on the advisory council, to help plan the structure of the summit and to provide input on the storyteller lineup. Beveridge and the UnleashWD Advisory Council determined that UnleashWD would be unlike any other conference in the distribution industry.

“I joked before the first UnleashWD that if you knew about supply-chains then you could not be a storyteller,” Beveridge says.

UnleashWD is designed to offer an alternative to what Beveridge describes as the monotony of the same industry gurus repeating the same strategies from within the distribution industry.

“The speakers were incredible,” Davidson says. “The biggest challenge for this year’s UnleashWD is living up to last year’s speakers and the interaction between the attendees.”

Davidson learned at the first UnleashWD that distributors face a similar set of problems regardless of the size of the company or their product: cost pressures and the desire to attract new talent concerned both Cardinal Health and several UnleashWD attendees Davidson said. For Cardinal Health, innovation is the solution to these problems.

Cardinal Health, while promoting ideas for advancement, including use of GS1 global standards and transparency in the supply chain, is also in the midst of creating a new business model for orthopedic products that helps reduce the cost and complexity of orthopedic surgery. This initiative includes using better data and analytics to optimize processes, streamlining the supply chain and finding high quality products at a price lower than the current leading brands. Cardinal Health’s new business model aims to simplify the distribution of orthopedic products, which will lower costs. Embracing new forms of technology and data analysis creates jobs for new employees.

While simplifying the process seems like an ideal solution, perfecting distribution processes remains a constant struggle.

“Most people do not have any concept of what happens behind the scenes in distribution,” Davidson says. “They go to a store and just assume a product will be on a shelf. The obstacles to get products to the shelf are mind-boggling.”

The rapidly changing nature of healthcare complicates matters for Cardinal Health. Procedures that were once only performed at hospitals are now being outsourced to surgical centers and doctor offices. This change requires Cardinal Health to constantly update its data to best meet the needs of customers.

While the constant transition might be difficult, the healthcare industry cannot operate as it has according to Davidson. Healthcare providers and distributors need to continue to be able to adapt to rapid change brought on by technology and new competition.

“In general, distribution has to do more to tap resources outside of the industry,” she says. We have to continue to bring in new minds and fresh thoughts.”

UnleashWD provides inspiration and guidance on how to accomplish this not only for Cardinal Health but also for the entire distribution industry. At this year’s UnleashWD, Davidson is excited to hear how last year’s attendees applied the lessons of change to their businesses. Davidson expects word to spread so more business attend the innovation summit, and that UnleashWD will evolve into a community of like-minded innovators searching for new ways to create value for their businesses.

The complete lineup of speakers may be found at

Founded in 2012, UnleashWD is the first and only conference dedicated to bringing innovation to wholesale distribution and manufacturing. The summit gathers only once a year, but do not wait to start innovating. Visit for updates on future webinars, eBooks and other valuable information on how to innovate.

About the UnleashWD founder:

Dirk Beveridge is an expert in how wholesale distributors and manufacturers increase market share through examining and improving their relationships with customers.

For the last 25 years Beveridge has worked with more than 3,000 firms as a leadership consultant, trainer and speaker. His clients include: Time Warner, IBM, Andersen Windows, Graybar and Berlin Packaging.

He is available for press interviews, corporate speaking or consulting. To contact Beveridge, call 847-381-7797 or email info(at)unleashwd(dot)com.

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Christopher Troksa
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