SCC Virtual Annual Meeting: Interview with Erica O’Grady, CAE, CEO of The Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC)

Erica O’Grady, CAE, CEO
The Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC)

SCC Virtual Annual Meeting – December 7-11, 2020

Erica, this years’ 74th  SCC Annual Scientific Meeting & Showcase will be held online for a full week. After a year of most trade shows and Conferences cancelled or postponed, why did the board decide to go forward?

The SCC Annual Meeting is the industry’s premier scientific information sharing forum in North America. Now more than ever, the Board felt strongly that the industry needs the high quality, unbiased, cutting-edge scientific education we provide at the meeting.  With an exciting program and confirmed speakers already in place, rather than cancel, we opted to reformat the meeting from two days of concurrent sessions to a week-long virtual experience where attendees can participate in every session. 

We have selected an outstanding, interactive digital platform for the meeting and are confident it will allow us to deliver a valuable and exciting virtual experience for all education session attendees and showcase exhibitors.

What can attendees expect from this years Conference? 

Attendees can expect the same high quality, cutting-edge scientific presentations we provide at our in-person event, featuring two Keynotes by:

Dr. Scott Jackson, Group Leader of Complex Microbial Systems, at the National Institute of Standards & Technology. Scott is leading efforts to improve microbiome and metagenomic measurements by organizing inter-lab studies, developing reference materials and reference methods, and developing in-vitro tools that allow us to better understand microbial community resilience and evolution.

Tom Szaky, CEO, at TerraCycle, Inc.  Tom is world-renowned entrepreneur, business leader, innovator and public speaker, and oversees one of the world’s few green multinational companies. Through TerraCycle, he has pioneered a range of business models that engage manufacturers, retailers and consumers in recycling products and packaging that would otherwise be destined for landfill or incineration.

There will also be an exciting virtual Showcase where attendees can engage and connect with material suppliers and other providers via text/audio/video chat in real time, via a group or one-on-one chat. There’s even a virtual “scavenger hunt” with prizes in the exhibition.

Will there be opportunities to interact with the presenters like Q&A after each presentation?

At the end of every session, including the Keynotes, there will be a Live Q&A portion where attendees can interact with the speakers.  Attendees will have direct access to more than 30 subject matter experts covering the following topics:

  • Personal Care/Cosmetics Impact & the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Beauty Personalization & Technology 
  • Color & Optical Effects
  • Cosmetic Dermatology: Skin Microbiome & Epigenetics
  • Natural/Sustainable in Cosmetics & Personal Care
  • Hair Care Innovation & Market Trends
  • Sun Care and Beyond
  • Technologies & Trends in Ingredients

What has been the biggest challenge for you planning this virtual event and how do you move forward as an organization in these unprecedented time?

The biggest challenge for us was identifying and selecting a digital platform that would allow for an exceptional attendee experience.  We didn’t want the attendee or exhibitor experience to be passive; we wanted something that would allow for interaction, networking and fun among the participants.  

As an organization, we are evaluating how we can deliver our content in new and meaningful ways during this time.  Technology investments we’ve made in recent years have allowed us to pivot our strategies to meet these challenges.  We’ve launched virtual learning opportunities that have been well received and are continually improving our ability to provide the education, publications, and networking that are critical to our members’ professional development and success.

And lastly, do you expect to return to normal next year? Or will virtual meetings be part of the ‘new normal’ for future conferences? 

We realize that “business as usual” is not something we’ll see soon.  The COVID-19 health crisis has been one of the most disruptive internationally-reaching events in recent history; we are confident in the scientific advancements in treatment and promising vaccine development providing a return to normalcy in the coming year.

We’ll certainly see ripple effects of the virus for years to come on the economy, willingness or ability to travel, and remote workforces.   The SCC and its members, companies, and partners are resilient and supportive of each other.  We’re confident that, when it’s safe to do so, the industry will participate in live meetings and events – and, right now, we intend to return to an in-person event December 14-15, 2021 in New York City.

As to whether virtual events will permanently become part of our annual meeting offering remains to be seen; we intend to consider the use of hybrid in-person/virtual models for future events to accommodate the current crisis. There is nothing that compares to the energy and excitement of a live meeting – something you cannot fully replicate in a virtual environment – and we look forward to a time when we can be together in person again.  

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