Young Leader Meeting

2022 Young Leader Conference

8:00 AM

MotorCity Casino Hotel

About This Meeting

The 8th Annual Young Leader Conference is a must-attend professional development opportunity for those under the age of 40. This one-day conference is designed by Young Leaders (YL) exclusively for Young Leaders with a focus around the theme of Adaptability in an Everchanging World.

Join us as we aim to provide DEC Young Leaders with the tools they need to navigate today’s and tomorrow’s workplace.


Adaptability in an Everchanging World


Whether you are just beginning your career or 10 years into it, this will be a meaningful one-day professional development experience filled with energetic keynotes, thought-provoking breakouts, and networking.

Carolina de Arriba

VP, Talent Management & Development
Schneider Electric

Connect with Carolina on LinkedIn

DEVELOP BREAKOUT SESSION: Disrupt Yourself - How to Reinvent Yourself to Adapt and Thrive in This Everchanging World

During the session, Carolina will guide participants through a framework on how to disrupt themselves before they are disrupted by others. She will share why it is important to take a proactive approach and be intentional about reinventing themselves to thrive in the midst of a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world.

Key Takeaways:

  • Inspire participants to take the driver's seat of their career and life
  • Provide them a simple framework to reinvent themselves
  • Participants will walk away from the session with a plan on how to get started in their own reinvention journey


HR professional with +18 years of progressive corporate and plant experience across different areas within Human Resources in three different countries. Currently working as VP of Talent Management and Development at Schneider Electric. Host of the Leading Yourself Podcast, a personal, leadership and career development podcast.

David Drews

Executive in Residence, Center for Positive Organizations
Stephen M. Ross School of Business, The University of Michigan

Connect with David on LinkedIn

OPENING KEYNOTE: TEAMFLOW – The Science of Creating Positive Leadership Practices with Impact

Adaptability is at the center of navigating complexity, speed of change and broader disruptive macro shifts in work and our lives. We all look for the keys to optimizing performance - tapping into the latent power inside ourselves and our teams. Now, research gives us the vocabulary to articulate the components that lead to outstanding performance.

We all want to achieve a state that is higher than teamwork – a state of flow that maximizes our performance and the performance of those around us. The science behind the secrets is captured in David's recently published book, Teamflow. The research is relatable and actionable. It can be put to use immediately and will drive improved performance. Simply put, David will share the stories, anecdotes, concepts and energy that converts what once was ordinary into long lasting performance that is extraordinary.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the elements that drive extraordinary performance - what makes us tick and the power of purpose in our lives
  • Understand the perspective of others and knowing what drives change
  • Understand that human science is needed to optimize collaboration
  • The sum leads to teamflow - exceptional performance of individuals and teams


David Drews, author of Teamflow, is an Executive in Residence at the Center for Positive Organizations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan studying and translating research on optimizing individual and team performance - tapping into the latent potential in ourselves and our teams. He has been utilizing the tenets of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), the foundation of Teamflow, for decades and has experienced first-hand the impact POS creates through trust and respect, rather than influence only from authority. The Positive IMPACT framework described in Teamflow focuses on a positive mindset, identification of becoming our best selves, continual learning, meaning and purpose in our lives, understanding the perspective of others, the keys to change and the principles of collaboration - all supported by the research of world class scholars. It creates a secure interdependent environment of alignment, respect, gratitude, and mutual success that has resulted in tremendous growth in the organizations with which he has been involved.

Drews was formerly Executive Vice President, CFO, and a Board Member of Project: WorldWide, an international marketing agency. He was a member of the management team that grew a small firm into an international marketing agency with more than 40 offices worldwide through organic growth supplemented by strategic acquisitions while diversifying the client base and broadening the service suite. He led acquisitions in the US, UK, Germany, and Australia, completed joint ventures in the US, Japan, China and India as well as supported greenfield operations in the US, France, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, China, India, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia and Korea. He led the employee's 100% acquisition of the firm through an ESOP.

Drews is Founder and CEO of Justus Equity, LLC providing expertise on leadership and employee ownership. He has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BA from Michigan State University. He is a CPA and member of the AICPA and MICPA. He is a founder of the Detroit Chapter of the Private Directors Association. He is a Board member of Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit, Mario Sinacola and Sons in Dallas, Palmer Holland in Cleveland and Superior Enterprises in Troy, MI as well as an Emeritus Board member of The Judson Center, a social services agency serving greater Detroit.

Brian Eisbrenner

Eisbrenner Strategies Inc.

Connect with Brian on LinkedIn

INSPIRE BREAKOUT SESSION: How To Move Up And Let Go: 3 Steps to Go from Great at Your Job to Excelling as a Leader

It is common for businesses to promote people into leadership who are the most successful in their roles. Unfortunately, being good at producing results doesn’t translate into being a great leader. This session will showcase simple steps to take to ensure a successful transition from being a star player to the head coach.

Key Takeaways:

  • Defining what success as a leader looks like in this role
  • Discovering and leveraging your strengths
  • Letting go and achieving results through others (Learn CPR - Communicate, Prioritize and Responsibility)


I am an Executive Business Coach & Consultant who partners with successful high-integrity business leaders and professional service providers to go further faster, achieve greatness, and live a fulfilled life.

My unique experience as a CEO and business owner has helped me develop a special skill set. I use these skills to help you bring out the best in yourself and your team.

Over the last 14 years, in the role of CEO, I have led various companies in multiple industries ranging from $4.2 Million to $250 Million in sales, helping them achieve operational excellence and growth despite industry and economic challenges. I have been blessed in this time to have hands-on experience in every phase of a business’s life: Startup, Growth, Succession, Purchase, Leadership Transition, and The Sale of Businesses.

My Executive Business coaching helps leaders around the United States gain clarity, effectively communicate a compelling vision, increase employee engagement, improve operational effectiveness, achieve measured results and live more fulfilled lives.

John Fikany

President & CEO
The Fikany Group

CLOSING KEYNOTE POWERED BY MOTORCITY CASINO HOTEL: “If You Want It, Come and Get It, For Crying Out Loud!” (Taking Ownership for Advancing Your Career in This New Remote Work Environment)

The pandemic has turned our world upside down and disrupted and transformed the way we live and work. Most people are still working remotely today. Some of you haven’t seen your direct manager or team in person for over a year. One thing is for certain, we will not be returning to a traditional work environment any time soon, or maybe never again. Today’s remote work environment has its benefits. However, when you swing the pendulum too far, it can also result in setbacks and unintended consequences. One of those areas being challenged today is the effectiveness of developing new hires and next generational leaders remotely. The biggest concern and questions John hears today from Detroit Economic Club Young Leaders and others is, “How do I advance my career in this new remote work environment.” John plans to address this question head on, from your perspective and your leaders!!!

Key Takeaways:

  • Recalibrate your mindset during these opportunistic times
  • Demystify what your executives are looking for in future leaders and how they make these decisions
  • Learn specific proven strategies for differentiating yourself in a remote work environment that will payback greatly during your reviews
  • How to expand your network and proactively build meaningful relationships that will enthusiastically participate in your development and support you when you’re not in the room
  • Promote yourself from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat, and hopefully never relinquish your career path steering wheel again
  • The simple secret of success, for young ambitious leaders (Must be present to receive)

Get ready to promote yourself. For those who are not afraid of getting out of their comfort zones and taking ownership for your destiny, there has never been a better time to differentiate your value and advance your career.

If you want it, come and get it, for crying out loud!!!


What does Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Larry Ellison, Bill Ford Jr., Ray Lane, Safra Catz, Alan Mulally, Warren Buffet, Dan Gilbert, and many others have in common? John Fikany has directly worked for, or has been coached by these generational leaders, and more. Buckle up! John is not a podium speaker. Prepare to be engaged, entertained, and excited about recalibrating personally and professionally. Fikany is the Founder and CEO of The Fikany Group. As an experienced change agent and industry thought leader, Fikany is currently a strategic advisor to many established enterprise companies and technology start-ups. His life passion is coaching organizations, teams, next generational leaders, as well as his daughter and sons’ athletic teams.

With 27 years’ experience in the technology industry, Fikany thrives in the most complex and dynamic environments. He and his teams have had the opportunity to help transform the largest global companies (including Microsoft) and literally change industries. He is well-known for his high energy, inspirational and entertaining keynote speeches, and assisting organizations to rethink and transform in today’s challenging environments. His first-hand experiences and stories from working directly for and with the most powerful leaders in the world, will motivate you to get out of your comfort zones and take action!

Fikany served in multiple executive assignments in his 13 years at Microsoft, including Vice President of Microsoft’s largest enterprise sales organization, globally (Central Region Enterprise Business consisting of 18 States and $3.5 billion in revenue). Prior, he was responsible for the $6.2 billion U.S. Commercial Industry practice, driving industry strategy, sales, services, partner, and marketing execution for four Industry Sectors and 19 verticals. As a partner level executive, he led multiple national and global strategic initiatives and served on the North American Leadership Team.

Prior to Microsoft, Fikany was a Vice President at Oracle Corporation for 8 years. He was responsible for the enterprise sales, strategy, marketing, consulting, education, and support services teams, while leading multiple strategic initiatives and a member of the US Enterprise Leadership Team.

Fikany also spent two years with Rock Holdings/Quicken Loans as the Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development. Quicken Loans is the largest employer in downtown Detroit and largest mortgage lender nationally.

As a native Detroiter, Fikany is committed to the revitalization of his hometown. He is passionately engaged in many charity and community organizations. He’s currently an active Board member for the Detroit Economic Club, Detroit Regional Chamber, Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, The Parade Company, Detroit Athletic Club, Mortgage Token, OpTech, Bullseye, Notables, Digital Lakes, etc... He is a recipient of the Global Citizenship Award and a proud graduate of Central Michigan University, where he provided the commencement address and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Science and Technology. He resides in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan with his wife Marcy and their two children.

Cathy Mott

Executive Coach | Author | Speaker | CEO & President
CWC Leadership Development

Connect with Cathy on LinkedIn

DEVELOP BREAKOUT SESSION: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

The value of emotional intelligence (EI) is the foundation for any successful and rewarding relationship, personally and professionally. There is tremendous value in being able to sit silently, listen and validate your own emotions. Nevertheless, it takes strength and courage to walk this journey; courage to be still when it hurts and strength to exercise self-control amid emotions that cause internal combustion. All these elements are needed to develop and increase our emotional intelligence, a crucial skill for successful leadership.

Key Takeaways:

  • The importance of increased awareness of emotional intelligence
  • Develop a greater understanding of the four quadrants of emotional intelligence
  • Learn how to increase your emotional intelligence


Cathy Mott is an Author, Executive Coach, Keynote Speaker, facilitator, and trainer who has had the pleasure of working closely with senior leaders for more than 25 years. She is very insightful and has a great talent for helping others discover their natural gifts and talents, which often results in authentic leadership and resilience. As a certified Social & Emotional Intelligence Coach, Cathy has distinguished herself by her ability to create a place of safety for her readers and clients to explore and define their identity as a leader as they walk through the four quadrants of Emotional Intelligence. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Coaching Federation – Michigan Chapter. Cathy has coached hundreds of executives (C-Suite) and has trained thousands on a national and international level with consistent passion and enthusiasm.

She has worked in various industries, including Automotive, (Mercedes Benz Financial) Education (Michigan State University) Healthcare (Trinity Health, Ascension Health) Government, (Michigan League of Public Policy) and Philanthropy (Kresge Foundation) just to name a few. Cathy partners with her clients on a journey of personal growth and purposeful leadership which helps them to be engaged in life mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Cathy has been involved in many forms of media. She has hosted a TV show, been featured on CUTV News Talk Radio, and has recently stepped into a new arena as an author. She has written her first book entitled, “Shh…Just Listen! Great Things Happen in The Silence,” which is an emotional Intelligence workbook that actively engages the reader as they walk through the four quadrants of emotional intelligence. Cathy is currently featured in the February 2020 edition of CEO Magazine as the author of an article entitled, “Authentic Leadership…What Makes it Real?” She is authentically living a life of purpose, helping others discover and step into their greatness through leadership coaching. Whether serving as Executive Coach, Trainer or Business Consultant, Cathy’s ultimate passion is found in creating the space for her clients to come face-to-face with themselves and empowering them to create a life of authentic leadership.

Mark Ostach

Author & Speaker

Connect with Mark on LinkedIn

LUNCH KEYNOTE: Fostering Connection in a Hybrid Workplace

Many of us are learning, living, and leading from home. This can create a sense of disconnection and isolation. Demonstrating empathy for the changes we are all going through and understanding ways to restore energy and human interaction are critical – especially when navigating a hybrid workplace. In Mark’s message, he will provide ways to reignite human connection leaving you filled with a newfound courage to connect.

Key Takeaways:

  • Find ways to create more meaningful connections both online & offline
  • Improve your digital & emotional wellness
  • Encourage empathy within your teams while maintaining accountability
  • Be in community & have a little fun!


Mark Ostach helps people find the courage to connect. A globally recognized speaker on Digital Wellness and frequently featured in the USA Today, Mark has done two TED talks, written 2 books, and spoken to thousands of people encouraging them to embrace a spirit of courage through vulnerability. Mark has degrees in psychology, technology, and an interest in behavioral neuroscience. His mission is to remind the world that human connection is the most powerful connection we have. So please check your phones one last time and get ready to be inspired by Mark Ostach!

Cassie Sobelton

Author, Health & Wellbeing Expert, Founder of Wellness Collection

Connect with Cassie on LinkedIn

INSPIRE BREAKOUT SESSION: Finding Balance in an Everchanging World

Never have we, as a society, seen such a dramatic shift in nearly every facet of our lives. Young professionals especially need help and assistance in reframing their thinking and priorities to keep themselves healthy, happy and balanced.

As a health and wellbeing advocate and expert who has focused not only on the individual side of health and wellbeing, but corporate and employee wellbeing, Cassie’s purpose in life and work is to teach and inspire others to make all areas of their wellbeing a top priority, in their life and in the workplace.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand how overall health and wellbeing contribute to adaptability in life, overall sense of joy and purpose, as well as occupational and financial wellbeing
  • Provide tools to help shift your mindset when life gets difficult, as it will inevitably happen at one point in all our lives
  • Keeping ourselves balanced and healthy in times of stress will prove to be a lifelong skill that is beneficial to all people and in all areas of our lives


Cassie Sobelton is a best-selling author, health and wellness expert and industry luminary. Cassie has authored 2 best-selling books on health and wellbeing (Back to Balance and The Employee Wellbeing Handbook), is a regular contributor to multiple media outlets (including recurring segments on ABC news), a national brand spokesperson and keynote speaker, health and wellness podcast host, certified yoga instructor, fitness instructor, health coach and nutritionist.

Cassie also holds dual bachelor degrees in Psychology and Sociology, in addition to an Executive Education Program “Leadership in Plant Operations” from The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. This unique combination of degrees, education and background is the perfect blend to found a new type of supplement company: one that honors integrity, transparency, quality and above all else, your health.

Cassie most recently founded Wellness Collection in 2021 and previously SynBella, a corporate employee wellness company. Cassie has helped to develop and deliver wellbeing programs at numerous employers in various segments and wellbeing departments at a large hospital system, a health insurance carrier and a national benefit broker.

Dr. Tarek Sobh

Lawrence Technological University

Connect with Dr. Sobh on LinkedIn

INSPIRE BREAKOUT SESSION: Interdisciplinary and 21st Century Jobs

How do you prepare your career for jobs that do not exist yet? How can you predict if your job will become automated? If it will, can you protect yourself? Are you prepared to utilize all of your potential and expand out of your current position?

In this session, Tarek Sobh will discuss with attendees how to renew their credentials to become in-demand when the world becomes autonomous. Interdisciplinary fields are becoming more and more popular and so are the people that can work interdisciplinarily. It's time to get out of your comfort zone and upskill yourself for ever-changing technological-based careers.

Key Takeaways:

  • What industry can do to support higher education to make graduates better prepared to join the workforce
  • Wants and needs have changed with the pandemic and everyone needs to be adapting to make work and learning environments better and more accommodating all around


Professor Tarek M. Sobh received the B.Sc. in Engineering degree with honors in Computer Science and Automatic Control from the Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University, Egypt in 1988, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer and Information Science from the School of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania in 1989 and 1991, respectively. He is currently the President and a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Lawrence Technological University (LTU), Michigan. He is Distinguished Professor and Dean of Engineering Emeritus at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

He was the Provost at LTU (2020-2021), and has served as the University of Bridgeport (UB) Executive Vice President, Research and Economic Development, and the Founding Dean of the College of Engineering, Business, and Education (2018-2020), Interim Provost (2020), and Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Computer Science (2010-2020). He was the Founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Robotics, Intelligent Sensing, and Control (RISC) laboratory (1995-2020), the Founder of the High-Tech Business Incubator at UB (CTech IncUBator) (2010-2011), and the Founding Director of the UB Innovation Center (2019-2020). He was the Senior Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research (2014-2018), Vice President (2008-2014), Vice Provost (2006-2008), Dean of the School of Engineering (1999-2018), Interim Dean of the School of Business, Director of External Engineering Programs, Interim Chair of Computer Science and Computer Engineering, and Chair of the Department of Technology Management. He also served as a Professor of Computer, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science (2000-2010) and an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering (1995-1999) at UB, a Research Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering, University of Utah (1992-1995), and a Research Fellow at the General Robotics and Active Sensory Perception (GRASP) Laboratory of the University of Pennsylvania from (1989-1991).

His background is in the fields of computer science and engineering, STEM Education, control theory, robotics, automation, manufacturing, AI, computer vision and signal processing. He has published over 275 refereed journal and conference papers, and book chapters in these and other areas, in addition to 27 books. Dr. Sobh served or currently serves on the editorial boards of 18 journals, and has served as Chair, Technical Program Chair and on the program committees of over 300 international conferences and workshops in the Robotics, Computer Vision, Automation, Sensing, Computing, Systems, Control, Online Engineering and Engineering Education areas. He has presented more than 150 keynote speeches, invited talks and lectures, colloquia and seminars at research meetings, University departments, research centers, and companies.

Professor Sobh has supervised over 50 award-winning graduate and undergraduate students working on different projects within robotics, prototyping, computer vision, control, and manufacturing; in addition to more than 300 undergraduate and graduate students working on their B.S. projects, Master's thesis or Ph.D. dissertations. Dr. Sobh is active in consulting and providing service to many industrial organizations and companies. He has consulted for several companies in the U.S., Switzerland, India, Malaysia, England, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and Egypt, to support projects in higher education, robotics, automation, manufacturing, sensing, and control. He has also worked at Philips Laboratories in New York, and a number of companies in Egypt. Dr. Sobh has been awarded over 60 research awards and grants to pursue his work in robotics, automation, STEM education, manufacturing, and sensing.

Dr. Sobh is a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences and a member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. Dr. Sobh is a recipient of the ASEE Northeastern U.S. Distinguished Engineering Professor of the Year award, the IEEE Northeast Technological Innovation Research Award, an ACE Higher Education Award and several other merits in recognition of his educational, research, scholarly and service activities in engineering, education, computing and diversity initiatives. Dr. Sobh is a Licensed Professional Electrical Engineer (P.E.), a Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE) by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, a Certified Professional Manager (C.M.) by the Institute of Certified Professional Managers at James Madison University, a Certified Reliability Engineer (C.R.E.) by the American Society for Quality, a member of Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society), Sigma Xi (Scientific Research Society), Phi Beta Delta (International Honor Society), Upsilon Pi Epsilon (National Honor Society for the Computing Sciences), Phi Kappa Phi (Academic Honor Society) and an honorary member of Delta Mu Delta (National Honor Society for Business Administration). Dr. Sobh is a member, senior member, founding or board member of several professional organizations including; ACM, IEEE, the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the International Association of Online Engineering (IAOE), the Bridgeport Discovery Museum, the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program (CPEP), and the International E-Learning Association (IELA). Dr. Sobh is a graduate of Victoria College, Alexandria, Egypt, in 1983 and a life member of the Old Victorians Association.

Skot Waldron

Internal Communications Strategist / GiANT Consultant

Connect with Skot on LinkedIn


There is one thing in life and work that is guaranteed, and that is things will change. We have people around us moving full-steam ahead and then others that are constantly pumping the brakes. They both play a valuable role in helping us succeed as teams and organizations. So, how do we lead change effectively inside our organizations? This session will provide you with some simple tools to help get everyone on board.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand which personality types like change and which are more change-averse
  • Learn how each person can play a role in the plan for change
  • Learn how to communicate change effectively to your teams


For the past 19 years, Skot Waldron’s work for clients such as J.P. Morgan Chase, CDC, Georgia Tech, Royal Caribbean, Sesame Workshop, The Home Depot, and The Coca-Cola Company has included national and international communication programs.

Skot Waldron is an internal communication strategist who uses his extensive knowledge of brand development to build loyalty amongst individuals, teams, and organizations. Unlike most communication programs out there, Skot coaches leaders and employees to become liberators using programs that are simple, scalable, and sustainable for the long term.

He believes the influence you have, your alignment as an organization, and your ability to execute effectively all begin with you and how you communicate.

Thank you to our 2022 Young Leader Conference Sponsors!

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