Monitor’s 50th Anniversary Event Sparks Innovation, Honors Equipment Finance Industry Leaders

Monitor, the leading publication in the equipment finance industry, held Converge, its 50th anniversary celebration, in Philadelphia on Wednesday and Thursday this week, attracting nearly 300 attendees. The two-day event featured an opening welcome reception on Wednesday, followed by a full-day conference designed to create the future of the equipment finance industry and an evening gala and awards ceremony on Thursday.

“Even after all the planning and work these last few months, I still can’t believe how incredible this event was,” Lisa Rafter, publisher and CEO of Monitor, said. “It was the thrill and honor of a lifetime to host such an incredible event and to not only see and speak with some of the most prominent leaders in our industry, but to have a chance to honor its past and facilitate its future.”

The full-day conference on Thursday opened with a keynote address from special guest John Hagel, a global speaker, futurist and best-selling author as well as the founder of Beyond Our Edge. Hagel discussed how to prepare for the future, touching on major themes such as change as a mindset, confronting and overcoming fear, and creating opportunities for innovation.

Hagel then moderated a panel with several industry leaders to identify fundamental issues in equipment finance and anticipate opportunities that can be leveraged today and tomorrow, such as artificial intelligence, new business models, transforming culture and more. The panelists for the discussion included:

  • Bill Verhelle, founder and CEO, QuickFi by Innovation Finance USA
  • Linda Redding, managing director and head of Equipment Finance, JPMorgan Chase
  • Eric McGriff, senior vice president and chief credit risk officer, Wintrust Specialty Finance
  • Nicole Torraco, president, FITTLE, a Xerox Company
  • Bridget Lindner, chief information officer, DLL

Inspired by Hagel’s opening remarks and the industry panel, attendees then participated in a moderated discussion to identify the most important questions and insights they took away from the panel, categorizing them as “reminders,” “sparks,” “questions” or “puzzles.”

After a break for refreshments, attendees took their pick of thought-starter breakout sessions facilitated by industry leaders to continue the discussion about what issues are impacting equipment finance and how to step into the future and think the unthinkable. The panel discussions included:

  • Unveiling Opportunities: Embracing the Potential of the Big Shift, facilitated by Hagel and Denis Stypulkoski, founder and principal of Reimagine Advisors
  • The Critical Importance of Creating New Business Models (Don’t be Seduced by New Technology!), facilitated by Verhelle
  • Unlocking Competitive Advantage: Embracing a Customer-Centric Mindset, facilitated by Lindner
  • Keep Investing in the Next Generation: Cultivating Authentic and Diverse Leadership in the Industry, facilitated by McGriff
  • Beyond the Visionary Leader: Empowering Teams for Successful Execution, facilitated by Redding
  • Cultivating Innovation and Change: The Imperative Role of Industry Leaders, facilitated by Torraco

From there, in a feature unique to Converge, participants spent the afternoon in additional breakout sessions based on the major themes and topics that emerged for attendees during the morning’s panels, sessions and discussions.

The majority of the content of the afternoon was constructed organically and the event wrapped up with a creative workshop led by Deb Reuben, founder and CEO of TomorrowZone, and Susan Carol, CEO of Susan Carol Creative, designed to inspire attendees to be creative and design the future of equipment finance.

Following a day of in-depth brainstorming and engaging conversations about equipment finance’s future, Monitor hosted the crown jewel of Converge, its 50th Anniversary Gala & Awards Ceremony, which was held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. In addition to a cocktail reception, plated dinner, tableside wine pairings and an open bar, attendees were treated to a fireside chat moderated by Steve Grosso, CEO of Auxilior Capital Partners, with special guest Brian Lee, co-founder and CEO of Arena Club, LegalZoom and The Honest Company, and founder of Grosso and Lee covered a wealth of topics, including culture, hiring, taking risks, growth and innovation.

The evening culminated In Monitor’s Converge Awards, a brand-new program to honor the legends who built equipment finance and the leaders who are making a memorable impact on the industry today. The awards show featured 14 unique categories, with the winners — selected by a group of 25 notable industry leaders — listed below:

  • Trailblazer in Equipment Finance: Valerie Jester, president, Brandywine Capital Associates
  • Creating Change & Innovation: Bill Phelan, senior vice president and general manager of U.S. Information Solutions Commercial Services, Equifax
  • Champion of Diversity: Scott Thacker, CEO, Ivory Consulting
  • MVP Behind the Scenes: Bill Bosco, principal, Leasing 101
  • CEO of the Decade (1970s): John Deane, co-founder, The Alta Group; former president, Nevada National Leasing; former president, BancOne Leasing
  • CEO of the Decade (1980s): James S. Beard, former president, Caterpillar Financial
  • CEO of the Decade (1990s): Tom Wajnert, chairman emeritus, The Alta Group; founder, former chairman and CEO, AT&T Capital
  • CEO of the Decade (2000s): Steve A. Grosso, CEO and vice chairman, Auxilior Capital Partners
  • CEO of the Decade (2010s): Bill Stephenson, global CEO, PEAC Solutions
  • CEO of the Decade (2020s): Amrita Patel, head of Equipment Finance, Wells Fargo
  • People-First Leadership: Bill Verhelle, founder and CEO, QuickFi by Innovation Finance USA
  • Industry Legend: Bruce Kropschot, senior managing director, The Alta Group
  • Industry Titan: Tony Golobic, executive chairman, GreatAmerica Financial Services
  • 2023 Leader of the Year: Mike Jones, president of Vendor Equipment Finance, First Citizens Bank

The Monitor team thanks each person who contributed to the success of Converge, including our speakers, panelists, attendees, staff and the 2023 Converge Award Committee, who included:

  • Sudhir Amembal, chairman and CEO, Amembal & Halladay
  • Deborah Baker, head of Worldwide Leasing and Financing, HP
  • Laurie Bakke, former president, Western Equipment Finance (retired)
  • Vince Belcastro, group head, Syndications and Capital Markets, Element Fleet Management
  • Ellen Comeaux, SVP, commercial division leader, TIAA Bank
  • Rich Doherty, president, High Street Capital Advisors
  • Dave Drury, senior vice president and group head, Equipment Finance, Fifth Third Bank
  • Chris Enbom, CLFP, CEO, AP Equipment Financing & Tokyo Century (USA)
  • Steve Grosso, CEO and vice chairman, Auxilior Capital Partners
  • Terey Jennings, president, Financial Pacific Leasing
  • Xiang Ji, commercial risk senior manager, Toyota Industries Commercial Finance
  • Katerina Jones, chief marketing officer, Fleet Advantage
  • Kyin Lok, president and CEO, Dext Capital
  • Jennifer Martin, CLFP, SVP, Sales Operations and Enterprise Support, Key Equipment Finance
  • Rick Matte, president and CEO, Post Road Equipment Finance
  • Eric McGriff, senior vice president and chief credit risk officer, Wintrust Specialty Finance
  • Brad Peterson, CEO, Channel
  • Linda Redding, managing director and head of Equipment Finance, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Dave Schaefer, founder and chief executive officer, Orion First
  • Eileen Schoonmaker, former U.S. general manager of soft assets, DLL (retired)
  • Michelle Speranza, CLFP, EVP, chief marketing officer, LEAF Commercial Capital
  • Denis Stypulkoski, founder and principal, Reimagine Advisors

Bill Verhelle, founder and CEO, QuickFi by Innovation Finance USA

  • Dave Walton, president and CEO, Caterpillar Financial Services
  • Nahid Zamir, head of Operations & Transformation, Meridian OneCap Credit

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