Driving Customer Centricity, really starts first with being good at managing change. Many businesses, especially established and successful ones have internal gravity towards existing structure and a view of the world that isn’t easy to adopt. In those situations, you must be even better. The speaker has nearly 30 years in this industry driving change at an established successful company. This presentation focuses on practical steps for getting good at change, which empowers customer centricity. In addition, he will touch on the current market and some of his counter intuitive and obvious but less frequently discussed observations of how this crazy year should be an advantage to marketing and sales.


  • Part 1: Driving Innovation should be about customer centricity. If Customer Centricity means putting the customer at the center of everything you do, and ultimately how you make decisions and structure your company, then innovation needs to be customer lead. So how do you drive customer centricity. This section explores thoughts on how the real thing you can control the most is being ready for change. And that it is hard, and frequently underestimated. So, you need to have a plan. The speaker will share what he has learned from driving customer centered change at a 115-year-old company and give some practical examples and steps from that experience
  • Part 2: Today’s market: Today’s market is generally seen as challenging for marketing and sale professionals. In this section the speaker will share what he sees as obvious opportunities for our profession in this industry. Covid, remote working, dramatic improvements in technology and increased expectations for transparency and visibility each present unique opportunities for those who are ready. The speaker will share some of the market adoptions he sees as important to capture these advantages. The theme of being ready for customer centric change will support and round out the presentation.

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Presented by Christopher O'Brien, Chief Commercial Officer, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.

Christopher O'Brien joined C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. in 1993 and is currently the Chief Commercial Officer.  Chris is a member of the senior management committee and is ultimately accountable for all customer satisfaction, strategy and support.  In addition to strategy, Chris leads the corporate teams that support our customers and our offices in the functions of marketing, sales and account management.

Prior to this, Chris was Senior Vice President of the enterprise since 2012 and Vice President of the North American Division since May 2003.  Chris has served as the manager of the Raleigh, North Carolina office as well as the general manager and later president of the company's European division.  Chris started in sales and account management roles at our Chicago South office, and later was a C.H. Robinson on-site representative at a major global grocery retailer working as a consultant on a supply chain reengineering project focused on inbound transportation control conversion.  Chris has spoken at numerous industry events including CSCMP, Eye for Transport, Gartner’s Supply Chain Executive Summit, and in Europe at TMZ’s Forum on various subjects.  His areas of expertise include account management, sales, European transportation models, customer experience, global TMS technology, and inbound logistics programs.  Chris is a member and former track chair of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP). 

Chris is a champion of change that puts the customer more in the center of everything the company does.  He has led multiple transformational go-to-market changes at C.H. Robinson.  His push is to constantly invent new progressive change to support customers and the employees who serve them.  A few of those new programs have been: Global Account Centers, executive/customer alignment program, high performance rewards program, customer advisory board, an onsite employee program, structured outside sales program, and the creation and branding of Collaborative Solutions, a distinct part of C.H. Robinson’s dedicated outsource relationships. 

From a marketing standpoint, O’Brien is a passionate pragmatist who leads investments that can be proven with revenue.  He leads a global marketing team and initiatives with expertise in digital, brand management including a recent rebrand, lead development and account-based marketing, customer experience management, public relations and external communication and marketing automation.   

He leverages the Chief Commercial Officer role to uniquely connect his accountabilities for marketing, sales, and customer management.  And he drives changes using his deep knowledge of the company, the customer, and the marketplace learned over more than 25 years at the company.  

He serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Alma College in Michigan, but is a die-hard fan of Michigan State athletics.  He stays active in the arts including American mid-century design, jogging slowly, mountain biking fast, skiing, and platform tennis.