Insights on Environmental Health & Safety (EHS), Operational Risk and Product Stewardship

Inspire Barcelona Brings Great Food, Great Times and Great Learning

June 12th, 2019
Michele Lavoie and James Tehrani
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With the Balearic Sea to the east and the Montserrat mountain range to the northwest, you know you’ve landed somewhere special—and inspiring—when you fly into Barcelona, Spain.

And creating a thought-provoking atmosphere is what the Sphera inspire user conference is all about.


Francis Trudeau, Sphera’s solution manager for Product Stewardship, was also inspire Barcelona’s master of ceremonies

On June 3, before Sphera’s largest EMEA conference ever officially got underway, attendees were treated to clear skies and warm temperatures peaking at 24°C (76°F). Inspire attendees also got to enjoy some beautiful views and tantalizing tapas from The Clock, the Catalonia Barcelona Plaza hotel’s gorgeous rooftop deck that includes a glistening pool, beautiful bar and heaps of hedonistic lounge seating. The views were breathtaking as well with the famed Font Màgica (Magic Fountain) and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia) off in the distance.

Day One

The next day, Sphera’s own Francis Trudeau, the event’s master of ceremonies, welcomed the attendees to Barcelona. He also introduced Sphera’s CEO Paul Marushka who presented Sphera’s “Focus on the Future.” Marushka noted that Barcelona has become quite the business hub with 460,000 companies in the area. He also explained how Integrated Risk Management 4.0 can help companies mitigate their risk by employing a data-driven, predictive and prescriptive approach to help keep their people safe, their products sustainable and their operations productive.

“There is so much for attendees to get out of inspire,Trudeau said. “From visions and insights to practical guidance and training, there is something for everyone. Inspire always feels like a big family reunion and a celebration because so many longtime customers and industry experts get together to share their knowledge and passion for our industry. As I said on the stage, inspire is a highlight of my year as a Spherion.”

Sphera’s chief technology officer, Perry Marchant, left, and Sphera’s chief product officer, Mike Zamis

Afterward, Sphera’s chief product officer, Mike Zamis, and chief technology officer, Perry Marchant, outlined Sphera’s roadmap for future software innovations for both on-premise and cloud-based solutions. During the event, Sphera also presented Embracing Excellence awards to Co-op, the largest consumer co-operative in the United Kingdom, and Ipsen, a Paris-based pharmaceuticals company, for Incident Management and Cloud Project of the Year, respectively.

Attendees were also invited to visit the demo pods, Customer Care stations and Partner Pavilion to learn more about Sphera’s solutions and get their software and services questions answered.

Inspire attendees also got to hear from Verdantix CEO David Metcalfe who presented the keynote address on why “Product Stewards Need Digital Solutions to Conquer Multiple Dimensions.” Metcalfe focused on three areas in his talk:

  1. Why is managing Product Stewardship data such a huge challenge?
  2. How does business context affect your approach to Product Stewardship?
  3. Which digital innovations should you focus on to conquer Product Stewardship complexity?

Vijay Gudivaka, Arcadis’ global managing director of information-driven performance, then focused on “The Future of Digital EHS Solutions” in his presentation. He addressed organizational structure and how “Needs & Wants” and drivers have evolved over the past two decades as well as how success is measured by:

  1. Business value creation
  2. Harmonized processes
  3. Fit-for-purpose and timely content
  4. Adoption and engagement

Before lunch, Marchant and Sarah Teague, a Sphera solutions engineer, showed off the new SpheraCloud user interface. The duo emphasized all that’s “right” with Sphera’s platform investments—namely helping clients get the right information to the right people at the right time and the right place in the right form.

Verdantix’s David Metcalfe delivered the keynote adress.

After the break, there was a spirited panel discussion on “Regulatory Impacts: 2020 and Beyond” led by Carrie Decatur, Sphera’s senior regulatory analyst. The panelists, Gill Pagliuca, chair of the Chemical Hazards Communication Society; Janice Robinson, director of product regulations at the CEPE; Penny Shoesmith, the regulatory systems manager at Johnson Matthey; and James Highcock from PPG Industries. One of the bigger discussions was about the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regulations in the European Union. Verdantix’s Metcalfe even tweeted about one of the topics saying there was a “fascinating debate” about what’s to come for Product Stewardship from British REACH after Brexit.

Sphera’s Carrie Decatur, left, led a panel discussion on “Regulatory Impacts: 2020 and Beyond”

Next up was Scott Redford, Sphera’s senior product manager, presenting on “Next Generation Operational Risk Management: Digital Transformations Driving Operational Excellence,” and explaining the importance of digitalizing data to mitigate risks. Afterward, JR VanOrder, Golder’s digital solutions practice leader, took the stage to hang 10—“10 Things to Consider for Successful Deployments,” that is.

David Stroud, Sphera’s vice president of MRO

After VanOrder, Sphera’s vice president of MRO, David Stroud, took the stage to discuss the importance of digital information for optimum Maintenance, Repair & Operations performance.

Then a hawk flew in—a SiteHawk to be exact. Matt Adams and Josh Edwards from SiteHawk, which Sphera recently acquired, gave attendees some information to chew on regarding “Chemical Management 101.”

The first day of inspire then ended with a networking dinner and cocktail reception at the breathtaking Bestial restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Tapas, Cava sangria and a phenomenal paella were served—and those were dished out before the main course! 

Sorry if we’re getting you hungry, but inspire was just getting started. There was so much more delectable information presented on Day Two of the event. Buen provecho (bon appétit) indeed!

Day Two

Inspire got off to a strong start on Day Two as conference-goers were given the opportunity to choose their preferred solution track focusing on either Product Stewardship or Operational Risk.

The Product Stewardship group first heard from Jean Aouad, Sphera’s Product Stewardship vice president, about Sphera’s sustainment services. The “layered” best practice model, he explained, ensures that clients receive timely support across all of their deployments. The services include regulatory, functional and business consulting services that promise to lower the total cost of ownership for the client.

Next up was Lisa Reiner from the Flint Group. She shared best practices for “Implementing a Statement of Composition (SoC) for Food Packaging Inks.” This is a great example of a Sphera customer expanding our open platform for more specific purposes.

While those topics were certainly tantalizing, what came next was certainly the meatiest part of the morning for the Product Stewardship crowd when a panel of experts discussed the upcoming European Union Poison Centres Notification rules, which have been the talk of the town for product stewards for months. Afterward, a beta version of Sphera’s PCN tool, designed to keep organizations in compliance with the upcoming rules, was demonstrated to a captive audience.

After lunch, the product stewards regrouped to hear from CHCS’s Pagliuca on BREXIT and REACH, and Michelle Atherley, Sphera’s senior regulatory affairs analyst, gave an engaging presentation on the “UVCB (unknown or variable composition)/Multiconstituent Issues” that many of the chemical manufacturing clients are facing.

The next session on new developments from the Extended Safety Data Sheet (eSDS) was led by Florian Seufert a project manager from Knoell, a German company that specializes in researching, processing and evaluating scientific data, who shared insights and improved design for the effective authoring of REACH exposure scenarios in Intelligent Authoring.

On the Product Stewardship side, the information train continued with a fascinating discussion on product compliance challenges, including the three other REACHs (Korean, Taiwanese and Turkish) as well as on Russian trading blocs and more. In the last Product Stewardship session of the day, Sphera solution engineer Aad van Keulen led a roundtable discussion on “Product Compliance Challenges”—and believe us there are many—with Rudi Wilden, a partner at ERM; PPG’s Highcock; and CEPE’s Robinson.

Meanwhile, the Operational Risk side had a banner day as well.

Sphera’s Marc Dillon, the senior manager of product operations, and Saba Shadrokh-Cigari, a product manager, got the ball rolling with a discussion of what’s new in SpheraCloud by walking clients through all the significant enhancements.

After their presentation, Massimo Martino of Rain Carbon Inc. talked about the “Quest for Zero Injuries.” Martino offered an inspiring case study of how their organization is supporting the world’s growing appetite for aluminum and greener, lighter raw materials while trying to reduce personal injuries across their sites.

Sphera’s Redford then, again, took the stage with Simon Jones, Sphera’s director of solution consulting, to present an Operational Risk Management case study review of clients who are using software to deliver safe offshore operations; closing the loop between operations, maintenance and engineering; and delivering a real-time risk view of critical equipment.

Mixed paella and hands with forks taking rice. Aerial view.

The OR group was treated to a great payoff in the next session on “Hazard Identification & Risk Assessment Methodology at Stahl,” which was led by Alexis Pey, Stahl’s global Safety, Health & Environment and process safety manager. He shared how Stahl manages their risk analysis with a system called “SHIRAM,” which is short for Stahl, Hazard, Identification and Risk, Acceptance, Methodology.

Alicia Seiders, the senior solutions architect from Golder, which was a platinum sponsor of inspire 2019, then offered some great insights to the group on the “Challenges and Opportunities in Moving to an HSE Cloud System.” She shared trends, business drivers, challenges, opportunities and integration best practices. 

Sphera’s Stroud then returned for another session where he detailed a large MRO project with one of the world’s largest metals and mining corporations—a project that encompasses 328 million-plus data points.  

Put pen to paper on this: Next up was UPM’s Jori Teinila—the OHS manager for the forest-based bioindustry company that, among other things, makes paper—shared insights into how the company monitors “Human Behaviors & Incident Management” in their labeling business. Teinila explained the challenges UPM faces as they are “labeling a smarter future” for a wide product portfolio for various end uses, and how this demands a strong safety culture.

On the Op Risk side, the day closed with Fraser Goodey, Sphera’s vice president of customer success and solutions, sharing Sphera’s benchmarking study results and explaining to the audience the benefits of collecting, reviewing and learning from Environmental Health & Safety analytics.

We hope you enjoyed inspire Barcelona as much as we did, and we hope to see you at our next inspire event in EMEA or North America. Also, if you missed our recap from inspire San Antonio, you can read it here.

Thanks for reading, and we hope you were as inspired as we were.

Michele Lavoie and James Tehrani




Michele Lavoie

Michele Lavoie is Sphera's marketing manager for programs and events. She is based in Toronto.





James Tehrani

James Tehrani is Sphera's content marketing manager. He is an award-winning writer and editor based in Chicago.

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