smith & beta is proud to work with communities committed to reinventing how professionals approach new ways of working. Most recently, we partnered with the professional women’s community, SheSays, and participated in their inaugural SheSummits conference. The event brought local professional women together for an afternoon of networking and merriment. smith & beta’s Meredith Olsen and Morley McBride, a smith & beta instructor and local consultant, were among the local leaders chosen to speak at the conference.
After the event we sat down with Meredith Olsen to get a speaker's perspective on the event, the community and professional experimentation.
How would you describe SheSummits?
SheSummits is an opportunity for women to empower women. Attendees included members of the SheSaysDenver community working in digital UX, technology, design, media and marketing. Speakers included mostly local professionals speaking about critical yet often overlooked topics in today’s workplace. The event, which occurred on Wednesday, October 19th, at The Space Gallery in Denver, included presentations on courage, inspiration, making and experimentation.
What did you present about?
Experimentation! In our everyday personal and professional lives there are things we do that could be done much better. Experimenting is one way to figure out various approaches to solving a problem by using an iterative process of trying and failing quickly. My co-presenter and I first touched upon mindset tips to address this process, especially in the workplace. Experimentation is often very difficult for individuals and businesses, especially if your company older and larger, like a cruise ship, instead of being nimble, like a speed boat. Also, most people are genuinely afraid of failure, and subsequently shy away from situations with potentially adverse outcomes.
I was drawn to the presentation opportunity as a platform to share my professional position on the crucial benefits of experimenting. Our main message was that progress grows out of experimentation and that in the long run, it is much more valuable to try than not to try, and that success often evolves from previous failures.
Why does smith & beta champion experimentation?
Since we work with employees and employers from all over the country daily, we are granted a unique perspective on organizations, their employees, and the many obstacles they face. In our experience, progress occurs when people actively and honestly address both what is working and what is not.
One of the main reasons I wanted to present at the conference was to share my insights with other businesses in the community to help them see the benefits of being ‘daring’ and ‘experimental’ - both of which I have seen make a positive impact in every company, no matter the size or capabilities.
Do you think SheSays makes an impact on the surrounding community?
Yes! It was inspiring to be surrounded by so many hard-working, successful and genuinely engaging women. Being able to share experiences with a community of professional women is special because women are impacted in different ways than men by societal expectations, and the tools needed to overcome these expectations are therefore also different - I think the speakers touched on a few of those during the conference. Moreover, it was incredibly exciting to be in a room full of women who are leaders in their fields today and inspiring the female leaders of tomorrow.
Did you have any major takeaways from the conference?
It demonstrated what I believed to be true about hands-on and interactive learning - people really like to get involved in an experience at a deeper level and explore it in relation to their own ideas and with others! Getting this group to ideate, discuss and modify these ideas allowed individuals with unique and varying perspectives to collaborate. Subsequently, I, and many other attendees, walked away from the conference with fresh ideas, ways of thinking, and a newfound perspective on how to tackle new challenges.
Would you go back next year?
Yes! Yes! Yes!