Day 1 of the 2017 NRF PROTECT Conference

The 2017 National Retail Federation (NRF) PROTECT Conference is now in full swing at the Gaylord National Harbor in Washington, DC. Following introductory remarks from NRF leadership, this year’s 2 ½ day event kicked off with an opening keynote presentation with Christopher Voss, former lead national kidnapping negotiator with the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit. After 24 years of service, Voss has assembled a toolbox of effective tactics for high pressure negotiations. By the same respect, he reminded us that when facing high-pressure negotiations, those we’re dealing with don’t care how long we’ve been doing what we’re doing, and our focus needs to be on finding real solutions. From using “no” to get what you want to getting others to say “that’s right” rather than “you’re right,” Voss discussed effective principles that we can use to become more empathetic and persuasive in our personal and professional lives.

This was followed by the opening of the Exposition Hall, featuring more than 200 exhibitors offering asset protection solutions from 50+ product and service categories. The traffic in the Exposition Hall was strong and steady on the first day of the show, and conversations appeared productive. Many seemed intent on speaking with specific solution providers, and will likely use Wednesday’s opportunities to investigate new products and solutions. Once again, the Exposition Hall also hosted the NRF Fusion Center, which provides attendees networking opportunities and the chance to interact and build partnerships with various local and national law enforcement agencies and organized retail crime associations.

The rest of the morning followed with breakout sessions covering the various conference tracks, to include presentations on partnering with solution providers, organized retail crime associations, data analytics, safety and crisis management, inventory shrink, and insights on the interview techniques featured in the Nexflix documentary “Making a Murderer” with Dave Thompson with Wicklander-Zulawski.

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Following lunch in the Exposition Hall, afternoon breakout sessions for each of the session tracks were next on the day’s agenda. The breakout sessions featured many open forums that allowed the audience to actively participate in the conversations, leading to active and productive discussions that were informative and engaging. This included a session on emergency planning that included active participation with several former “Ring of Excellence” recipients, professional development, safety during armed robberies, building a cyber security program, career transitions, supply chain, interview and interrogation, and 2017 shrink survey results from the National Retail Security Survey with Dr. Richard Holliger. All of the day’s speakers were knowledgeable and well prepared; getting the most out of the information and the audiences while sharing their presentation messages.

Following the afternoon breakout sessions the Ring of Excellence Award Recognition ceremony honored the 2017 recipient Gene Smith, LPC (shown above). Remaining in character with his position as president of the Loss Prevention Foundation, Smith dedicated his presentation to the importance of continuing adult education, and the obligation that each of us has to our own professional growth and development. Read more about Smith’s inclusion as the 2017 Ring of Excellence recipient.

Tuesday’s afternoon keynote session was hosted by attorney Kimberly Peretti, CISSP. As a top prosecutor with the Department of Justice, Peretti led the successful prosecution of TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez, among several other high-profile incidents. She also discussed cybersecurity issues facing today’s retailers and shared several important lessons regarding social engineering, the ongoing threat of phishing scams and ransomware, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and the important role that loss prevention/asset protection plays in combating these ongoing threats to retail organizations.

Following a long and productive afternoon, the day’s events ended with a happy hour networking session, allowing everyone the opportunity to refresh and recharge before heading into Wednesday’s busy schedule of events.

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