News | June 16, 2021

From a Challenging Year to Unprecedented Opportunities. DLA Aviation virtual Industry Day conference draws record attendance

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation hosted a two-day Industry Day Virtual Conference utilizing the Zoom.gov platform, June 8-9. The theme for this year’s event was “From a challenging year to unprecedented opportunities … Opening the door to virtual accessibility.”

The event brought together close to 1,400 unique industry business leaders and representatives to collaborate with DLA representatives on meeting warfighter needs. This registered number is roughly seven times more than the 250 representatives who attended the event in person two years ago. Last year’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniele Kurze, director of DLA Aviation’s Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate, said while she would’ve much rather held the event in-person, the virtual event had many upsides.

“It made it so easy to include our industry partners on our panels and forums so we can gain their perspectives and those attending can hear their fellow industry partners perspectives on the challenges they are facing. They are really taking a seat at the table,” Kurze said.

DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Michelle Skubic was the keynote speaker. Skubic, who once served in the same capacity at DLA Aviation as Kurze, opened by expressing her gratitude to the industry partners for their support during the pandemic.

“Our workforce was less than full strength, at least in the physical office environment. Yet, we were still able to maintain the depot lines of production for all of our services with no delays based on DLA parts. We couldn’t have done that without you,” Skubic said.

She also went into detail concerning the role industry partners play in the DLA Strategic Plan 2021 - 2026.

Those who participated in the conference had the option of attending 14 staggering and concurrent panels and forums addressing important topics in acquisition and supply chain for both DLA Aviation and companies within the industry, including reverse engineering, Defense Contract Management Agency, small business programs for government, and industry and supplier performance risk assessment.

Small businesses were also able to virtually showcase their companies with links to their websites, contact information and company descriptions. In addition, virtual exhibitors had the opportunity to share their own online virtual meeting platforms which attendees were able to visit real time during the conference.

After the last session wrapped up and the conference ended, Kurze said they will go back and capture all the lessons learned from the planning phase up until actual execution to see what went wrong or what went right.

“We’ll definitely have room for improvement, but I think it was really a learning curve for us and how do we use a virtual platform to get the same experience as if you were in person,” she said.

As outlined in the DLA Industry Engagement Plan, DLA is placing an increased emphasis on its operations by capturing supplier feedback to better determine what factors drive supplier satisfaction and using those responses to drive internal change.

The DLA Supplier Feedback Survey is an important tool in strengthening supplier partnerships, which is key to ensuring a viable defense industrial base, generating innovative and efficient solutions and maintaining secure and resilient supply chains.

Based on the results, DLA is developing action plans that will refine DLA’s contractual practices and organizational behaviors with the ultimate goal of improving DLA processes and responsiveness to its partner suppliers.

To view the results of the 2020 survey, visit the DLA Supplier Feedback Survey webpage. The next DLA Supplier Feedback Survey is scheduled for 2022.