The highly anticipated 2012 Annual Strategic Growth Conference begins April 16 and will serve as an excellent opportunity for ACG members to network, learn business best practices and hear from a wide range of excellent speakers from across the business world.

Recently, the ACG National Capital Blog featured profiles on some of the speakers for the upcoming event, which include: Carly Fiorina, Tim Draper, and William D. Green.

Although the list of speakers for this year’s event is long and extremely distinguished, the speakers are just one of the many reasons to attend the conference. We recently caught up with some of the event’s registered attendees to discuss their experiences on attending past events and why the Strategic Growth Conference is the “must attend” event of the year for business leaders in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Our first Q&A was with Ricky White, the Mid-Atlantic Transaction Advisory Services Leader with Grant Thornton LLP, and co-chair for this year’s event.

The upcoming Strategic Growth Conference (SGC) is the 18th annual event. How many years have you been attending?

Ricky: This will be my fourth or fifth time.

What continues to bring you back to the event?

Ricky: I primarily go because of the people that are at the event. ACG as an organization is focused on the middle market and corporate growth, which can be organic or through acquisition. These growing, dynamic companies are those that Grant Thornton targets as clients so being able to meet the companies that are generating all the deal flow is a great opportunity to help me grow Grant Thornton’s business.

I’m really looking forward to DealSource, as there will be 20-25 private equity firms meeting with 16-17 investment banks for the opportunity to network with one another and potentially identify their next acquisition.

I’m also looking forward to connecting and furthering relationships with potential clients.

What differentiates the Strategic Growth Conference from other similar events?

Ricky: It’s the regional appeal. You’re right in the heart of Washington D.C. meeting with some very high profile people. There are a lot of financial and PE firms that come out to the event. This enables the firms to create relationships and be players when new companies come to the market. The event can also serve as a great tool to expand business.

When you look at larger, nation-wide events, you’re dealing less with the regional presence and more with global industries.

What are some of the benefits of attending the Strategic Growth Conference, from a business leader’s perspective?

Ricky: For the C-level executives you have the opportunity to meet other prominent executives and share knowledge. For example, for the government contracting community, there will be a panel of C-level executives speaking to where they see the government market going.

Tim Draper is opening the conference and can speak about Venture Capital for emerging tech companies and where that market is headed. Since he is familiar with this area, I also expect him to speak to the state of the local tech community.  Carly Fiorina can also bring some hi-tech knowledge as the former CEO of HP. She can also share her political experience as she once ran for the U.S. Senate representing California.

Also, attendees from private equity firms can highly benefit from meeting with prospective buyers or companies looking to sell. There are also opportunities to network with investment bankers.

Are there any particular breakout sessions or featured speakers at this year’s event that are particularly interesting to you? Why?

Ricky: Since my focus is on government contracting, I am looking forward to the CEO panel. I am also really interested in Tim Draper, as he’s a very well known name in the venture capital community. In fact, Tim used to have an office in the Northern Virginia area, but closed it when venture money dried up a bit during the dotcom bust. I’m interested to see what he thinks about technology corporations coming back to the D.C. area.

Overall, I must say that I am extremely proud to see the level of diversity that this event has attracted. We have a well known woman keynote speaker this year (Carly Fiorina), who is very successful in her field and will be sharing valuable insights and knowledge.

For the next Q&A in our series, we’ll feature Greg Treger, Managing Director at Clearsight Advisors, a leading Merchant Banking firm specializing in providing strategic advice to growth oriented businesses in connection with Private Capital Raising, M&A and Financial Advisory Services.

If you’re interested in additional information or attending this year’s Strategic Growth Conference, please visit the ACG National Capital Web site.