About CenterState CEO
CenterState CEO Events
New Partners
The Tech Garden
Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau
Government Relations
Chamber Discounts
Member Committees
Member Milestones
How to Advertise

The Tech Garden

Annual Meeting: Remain Agile and Pivot Toward New Opportunities

In his Pivot-themed Annual Meeting message, CenterState CEO President Robert Simpson reminded attendees about the importance of staying problem focused, rather than product focused. He encouraged a willingness to remain agile in the face of new challenges and opportunities, recognizing that successful companies and communities have learned that growth is not predicated on what they have to sell, but rather on the customer or community need that they are trying to solve.

To solve problems, CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson suggests attendees shift their attention from being product focused to being problem focused.

Keynote speaker David Lee, of UPS, discusses the importance of creating jobs that cannot be easily adopted by robots.

“Markets change, just as customer needs evolve. Businesses must anticipate, identify and react proactively to these changes or ignore these signals at their own peril,” said Simpson. “These are also lessons we are wise to heed at the community and regional level as we face significant opportunities alongside economic, social and demographic challenges. We must be willing to shift our approach and pivot toward new solutions. Now more than ever, driving economic growth and shared opportunity requires the intentional and interconnected design of programs, policies and systems to ensure our efforts are at the forefront of economic development today.”

The event’s keynote address was given by David Lee, the vice president of Innovation and the Strategic Enterprise Fund at UPS. As part of the leadership team at UPS, Lee works to accelerate and enable innovation across the company’s global network of services and operations by connecting bright people with interesting problems. Building on his 2017 TED Talk message, “Why the Jobs of the Future Won’t Feel Like Work,” Lee highlighted the incredible speed of change and how advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics will dramatically impact how people work. He encouraged leaders to begin designing human-centered work that allows people to be dynamic human beings that will drive better outcomes for talent and the company.

“Jobs that are narrowly defined around a single, predictable task are at great disadvantage to automation.  AI and robotics are best suited to handle repeatable tasks,” said Lee. “However, jobs where people are encouraged and enabled to do many different things, seven to 10 different things, won’t be replaced by software any time real soon. It’s when people have environments where they can collaborate and bring a wide variety of ideas, skills and interests to work that they are most engaged and excited to be there. Not only that, but they will be doing work that unleashes the amazing human ability to adjust to uncertain situations. We need to create more human-centered work that invites workers to be more human – put another way, we need to stop designing jobs that ask people to act like robots. It’s critical that today’s leaders start redesigning work and creating jobs that will still be relevant in an age of intelligent machines.”

Hundreds of business and community leaders attended the meeting held at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena in Syracuse. CenterState CEO’s Business of the Year Award winners in five categories were also announced. See page 4 for details.

To read CenterState CEO’s 2018 Annual Report, visit


Visit the CenterState CEO YouTube Channel to watch speeches by Simpson, Lee and other videos from the event.