September 11, 2023|12:30 pm – 1:30 pm (CT)

Leadership Exchange: Advanced Manufacturing: Trends and Technologies Changing the Future of Metal Fabrication

It’s more important than ever for manufacturing companies to focus on new trends and technologies changing the landscape of business. Businesses need to embrace new technologies and innovations to keep up with customer demands and stay competitive. The panel of diverse technology experts will share the latest innovations in technology shaping the future of the fabrication industry.

Sponsored By

Joanna Cooper

General Manager, Mount Holly

Daimler Truck North America

Slade Gardner


Big Metal Additive

Ben Wald


Very, LLC

Laszlo Gonc

Founder, CEO

Next Era Transformation Group

Carol Reiley

Serial Entrepreneur

AI Roboticist

Event Speakers

Joanna Cooper

General Manager, Mount Holly, Daimler Truck North America

Joanna Cooper is Daimler Truck North America’s General Manager, Mount Holly. The Women in Manufacturing board member is bridging the gap of competence and confidence to transform executive leadership and business culture to drive results. Cooper reduces the learning curve by sharing how leaders can systemize their results.

Leading an amazing team of nearly 2,000 staff to produce Freightliner M2 and SD Plus medium-duty trucks. Workforce development and digital transformation have never been more relevant than now as leaders seek to transition product and service portfolios to more sustainable solutions. To learn more about Joanna Cooper’s innovative management tips, follow her on Linkedin.

Slade Gardner

President, Big Metal Additive

Dr. Slade Gardner is president of Big Metal Additive, a company advancing large scale metal hybrid additive manufacturing. Dr. Gardner has led BMA from startup to an internationally recognized company serving customers in space, aeronautics, maritime, heavy equipment, automotive and energy markets, as well as the DoD.

Ben Wald

Founder, Very, LLC

As the Founder of Very, Ben Wald has helped lead over 250 product launches in the last decade, guiding a growing team of more than 50 engineers, designers, and data scientists in understanding our clients’ challenges and building custom IoT solutions. Before founding Very in 2011, Ben served as the executive director at Ashoka Changemakers, where he spearheaded the software development of a suite of products to connect social entrepreneurs with global resources. During Ben’s early career, he also co-founded two successful startups. His first endeavor was an online education software company that secured more than $5+ million in seed capital, was later acquired by eCampus, and resulted in Ben being named as one of Businessweek’s Top 25 Young Entrepreneurs. He also co-founded LookSharp, which secured $10+ in venture financing and was acquired by WayUp in 2017.

Laszlo Gonc

Founder, CEO, Next Era Transformation Group

Laszlo is a recognized senior executive with 30 years of progressive experience in business and information technology. He is responsible for helping organizations, corporate and non-profit alike, navigate the digital frontier advising on cyber security, IT risk mitigation, and building digital technology strategies that drive performance and business value. He has experience across a number of industries advising senior executives, developing security strategies, evaluating IT risk and spearheading critical security projects for senior leadership – including but not limited to healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, legal, mining, and banking.

Laszlo is a member of the Forbes Technology Council, PEER150 and sits on a number of nonprofit boards and committees. He served as Chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI) Chicagoland Executive Council for a number of years. As a member of FBI Infragard, ISSA and ISACA, he currently serves as Executive Vice President for the Chicago chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) and Board Member for the Society for Information Management (SIM) Chicago.

Carol Reiley

Serial Entrepreneur, AI Roboticist

Carol Reiley is a serial entrepreneur, advisor, and an active advocate for diversity/bias in AI.  Her purpose in life is to save the world, one robot at a time. She’s been named the Mother of Robots and over the past 20 years has worked in a breadth of robotics applications ranging from healthcare (Intuitive Surgical) to space (Lockheed Martin) to underwater to self-driving cars.

She is currently CEO of a healthcare startup, a creative advisor of the San Francisco Symphony, tech advisory council member for Harman Kardon, a World Economics Forum Young Global Leader, and a brand ambassador for Guerlain Cosmetics. She cofounded and was President of where she led partnerships with Lyft and Grab, helped build team of 8 to 150+ employees, and raised over $77M.

She also founded Tinkerbelle Labs for low cost healthcare as well as Squishybotz for educational robotics. She is a published children’s book author on the 1st growth mindset which has sold over 20K copies, was on the 1st female engineer on the MAKE magazine cover, and the youngest member on the IEEE Robotics and Engineering Board.

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