GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The West Michigan CEO Summit returned in person to downtown Grand Rapids Tuesday.

CEOs, executives and managers from a number of area businesses gathered at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel to network and listen to a slate of speakers who shared stories of adversity and success over the last two years due to the pandemic.

In a first, the WOOD TV8 Live Desk took to summit to speak with several business and institution leaders, with conversations streaming live at the WOOD TV8 Facebook page.

Digital anchor Luke Laster at the WOOD TV8 Mobile Live Desk at the West Michigan CEO Summit in Grand Rapids on June 14, 2022.

A common theme from the guests was excitement to be back in person.

“It’s great, it’s essential. I think that’s how we do our best work when we’re together, when we’re collaborating. I think there’s a passion to give back into the community, to build, to do the right things and it’s a lot easier to do it when we see our friends and our centers of influence and we can do things together,” KeyBank President-West Michigan Michael Systema said.

John Ball Zoo’s CEO Peter D’Arienzo was excited to share two new features the zoo features this summer. Those including a new koala exhibit and an exhibition of art made from reclaimed plastic waste.

“The art touches us and how we can make a difference in our daily lives. It tells us that single use plastic is a problem,” D’Arienzo said, describing the educational purposes behind the exhibit.

Each featured interview also included this question: If you could give advice to any young professional recent college grad, what would it be?

“Do not be shy about meeting people,” Carlos Sanchez, director of the Latino Business and Economic Development Center of Ferris State University-Grand Rapids, said. “I know it’s really hard, I’ve been there, but don’t be shy, just gain the courage somehow and approach that person.”

The summit began at 8:30 a.m. and wrapped up around 1 p.m. For all of the Live Desk conversations from it, go to the WOOD TV8 Facebook page’s Videos tab.