2016 Keynote Speakers

We are excited to announce our 2016 Keynote Speakers for the 2016 Global TapRooT® Summit!

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Michael Durant, In the Company of Heroes

Kurt Mix, Unintended Consequences of Federal Prosecution

Mark Paradies, Fast Investigations for Simple Incidents

Carl Dixon & Ed Skompski, 50 Ways to Use your TapRooT®

Geoff Redfern & Brian Tink, Investigating a Subsea Pipe Failure

In the Company of Heroes

Michael Durant, Best-Selling Author and Inspiration for the Movie “Black Hawk Down”
Friday, August 5, 2016, 11:00 a.m. – noon

Durant_Michael copyLittle did retired Chief Warrant Officer Four Michael J. Durant know when he entered the United States Army in 1979 that one day he would be the target of a Somali-fired grenade launcher, a prisoner of war, and the subject of an acclaimed book and a major motion picture. Durant was the pilot of Black Hawk helicopter Super Six Four that was fired upon and subsequently brought down during a combat operation in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3, 1993. After a horrific street battle, he was overrun by a crazed mob, captured, and held prisoner for 11 days. He was badly injured, suffering from gunshot wounds and a broken back, leg, and face. His image as a POW was seen around the world on the cover of TIME, Newsweek, US News and World Report, and all other television and media outlets. The events of that day were recounted in Mark Bowden’s best-selling book Black Hawk Down and Ridley Scott’s Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. Today, Durant is the New York Times best-selling author of In the Company of Heroes and The Night Stalkers and the president and chief executive officer of Pinnacle Solutions.

The story of Black Hawk Down is a tense one, but Durant turned his experiences into a powerful story of survival and motivation. He talks vividly about his experience as a soldier and as a hostage and what it has taught him about being an American and a leader. Durant takes the unique lessons he learned and turns them into compelling insights for personal and professional growth and shows companies and individuals how they can succeed through better planning, motivation, and adaptation despite the obstacles they may encounter. An inspirational speaker, he illustrates the power of teamwork, leadership, and change through awe-inspiring stories, captivating visuals, and heart-racing accounts of life in the line of fire.

One of a Few Good Men. Following basic training, Durant attended the Defense Language Institute, and got assigned to the 470th Military Intelligence Group in Fort Clayton, Panama, as a Spanish voice intercept operator. He then completed helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Upon appointment to Warrant Officer One in 1983, he completed the UH60 Blackhawk Qualification Course and was assigned to the 377th Medical Evacuation Company in Seoul, Korea. His next assignment was with the 101st Aviation Battalion, where he performed duties as an instructor pilot, and he learned the importance of leadership at an early age. Durant joined the 160th Special Operations Group in 1988. Assigned to D company, he performed duties as Flight Lead and Standardization Instructor Pilot. He participated in combat operations Prime Chance (Persian Gulf in 1989), Just Cause (Panama invasion in 1989), Desert Storm (Liberation of Kuwait in 1991), and Gothic Serpent (Somalia in 1993).

Leading and Motivating from Experience. A master aviator and a highly decorated soldier, his awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, Bronze Star with Valor device, Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, one with Valor device, the POW/MIA ribbon, the Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart. Durant was also inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008.

Investigating a Subsea Pipe Failure

Brian Tink, President, Watershape Safety Analysis
Geoff Redfern, Subsea Project Engineer (Consultant), Suncor
Wednesday, August 3, 2016, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.


Brian Tink specialized in health, safety and environmental matters during the latter part of Brian Tink’s career at Hydro One (starting in 1994). Before pursuing other interests, he held the title of Manager of Health, Safety & Environment Field Support for Hydro One Networks, Inc. This branch of Hydro One delivers electrical service to homes and businesses across the province of Ontario, Canada. Hydro One owns over 90,000 miles of Transmission and Distribution Lines, serves 1.3 million customers with 4,600 regular employees.

In this position, while reporting to the VP HSE, he was called to analyze and investigate safety incidents that occurred. He has facilitated or been a part of the action plan development for numerous investigations, approximately 30-40 per year since 2000. The position involved working with and reviewing incident reports and action plans with other Line of Business VP’s and Directors. The lines of business included Construction, Lines, Station Maintenance and Forestry type work activities. He has also been called to lead or participate in investigations where a high level of scrutiny is expected for the results or there is significant need to identify areas of improvement.

During his career, he had the opportunity to attend an extensive amount of training and seminars. The training resulted in becoming a Certified Registered Safety Professional in Canada and a Certified Utility Safety Administrator through the National Safety Council in the USA. Both of these certifications require safety management theoretical knowledge, testing and several years safety management experience.

Geoff Redfern graduatBio shoted from Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Engineering program and has 20 years offshore oil and gas experience. He has held safety, risk and subsea related positions while working in multiple regions such as Scotland, England, Texas and Atlantic Canada.

Most recently, he was an oil and gas operator’s lead investigator for a subsea flexible pipe failure that occurred offshore Newfoundland. The investigation began in 2013 and lasted approximately 16 months with over 10,000 manhours spent.

Currently he is a Subsea Project Engineer working on further subsea developments offshore Newfoundland and resides just outside St.John’s, Newfoundland with his wife and two young children.

50 Ways to Use Your TapRooT®

Carl Dixon, Author & Musician
Ed Skompski, Vice President, System Improvements
Wednesday, August 3, 2016, 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.


“Our human minds are the single greatest power on earth. What we generate from our thoughts can be as great as the greatest things ever seen.”

Carl Dixon is a Canadian rock musician who has been a part of such bands as Coney Hatch, April Wine and The Guess Who. In 2008 he was involved in a near fatal car crash that could have cost him everything. His story is more than a tale of “had it all and almost lost it”; for Carl the story became, “What now?”

“Our thoughts determine our path; if we find ourselves on a bad path it’s never too late to substitute better thoughts in place of unsatisfactory ones. We have the ability to decide our thoughts, to choose strength over weakness, courage over fear, stoicism over complaint. Sure, it’s not always easy, but it can become a habit every time you remember that the strong choice is the better choice”.

Accident prevention doesn’t happen by accident. Adversity doesn’t build character so much as it reveals character. Determination of purpose makes you a much more powerful force than the irresolute, uncommitted you could ever be.

“Omniscience is denied to we mortals; we can never know all the factors which affect our journey through this life. However, I do believe now that the important ones are revealed to us at the right time. What has been revealed to me is that there is only one worthwhile mission: to bring everyone to the finish line, together and safely.”

The threads from which the fabric of Carl’s life was woven are indeed a “Strange Way To Live.”


Ed Skompski has been with System Improvements since 1996, and has taught and specialized in performance improvement through teaching the TapRooT® System for root cause analysis, performing and facilitating investigation, and helping companies implement performance improvement programs. He has taught hundreds of training courses around the world at both client sites and through public seminars.

Ed has been a Partner since 2000, and a VP since 2006. He is currently manager of software development, technical support, e-commerce, and network support. Additional responsibilities include client management, training, and product development. Ed has also spearheaded the projects focused on reducing medical errors in the healthcare industry through the implementation of root cause analysis techniques.

Prior to joining System Improvements Ed provided environmental evaluation, remediation consulting and project supervision for Radian Corporation and Law Engineering 

The Kurt Mix Story: Unintended Consequences of Federal Prosecution

Kurt Mix, Petroleum Engineering Consultant, Former BP Engineer
Thursday, August 4, 2016, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Kurt Mix (1)Kurt Mix is an independent oil and gas consultant with over 30 years of experience. Over his career, Kurt has spent 15 years in the field as a drilling supervisor, on all types of marine and land based drilling rigs both domestically and internationally. Kurt has leveraged his extensive stints in the field to move into office-based engineering roles with a variety of oil and gas companies, ranging from small independents to multinational conglomerates. Throughout his career, Kurt has been drawn to challenging technical problems requiring innovative solutions.

Given Kurt’s experience and track record, it is easy to see why he was selected to lead a critical team during BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response. The team harnessed the expertise of some of the world’s leading technical specialists to stop the flow of oil and permanently seal the ruptured well. Kurt had no reason to expect that following the extended and exhaustive response effort, he would spend the next four year engaged in a very contentious and high stakes legal battle with his own government.

Since his vindication in November of 2015, Kurt has resumed his career which is most easily summed up as a passionate pursuit of practical solutions to complex problems.

Fast Investigations for Simple Incidents

Mark Paradies, President, System Improvements
Thursday, August 4, 2016, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Paradies.MarkMark Paradies is President of System Improvements, Inc., a firm specializing in performance improvement and root cause analysis. He has 29 years of experience operating, managing, and improving high reliability systems. Mark started his career as an officer in Admiral Rickover’s Nuclear Navy. He also worked for DuPont and Westinghouse before starting System Improvements in 1988. Currently, Mark researches performance improvement strategies and helps senior management understand, plan, and implement performance improvement programs while he manages System Improvements and teaches TapRooT® Courses.

Mark has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, and a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering (with emphasis on Human Factors), both from the University of Illinois. Mark is a board certified Professional Ergonomist, and a Certified Hazard Control Manager. He was also Engineer Certified by training, testing, and experience by Navsea 08.

Mark has recently released the new book, TapRooT® – Using the Essential TapRooT® Techniques to Investigate Low-to-Medium Risk Incidents.

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