Why Tech Inclusion 2018 Was A Success

I attended the 2nd annual Tech Inclusion London event on 26th November 2018 hosted at the Bloomberg Engineering HQ in London. I have to admit, I had never heard of the organisers Change Catalyst or their Tech Inclusion series of events, so I went to this event with low expectations and hoping to make at least one or two good connections.

The theme for the event was “Voices of Innovation” – and featured diverse, underrepresented voices that are building innovative technologies and future cultural paradigms. The topics included the future of storytelling, building inclusive products, diversity across borders, and #WorkingWhileMuslim. I was one of the last people to leave post event networking as I found value in all the sessions which for me is rare – I usually sneak out of events before the end (as some afternoon sessions can drag on).

Overall, there were 5 main reasons I enjoyed this event:

Event organisers

I spent nearly 5 years working in the Events & Conferences sector and appreciate what it takes to put together a great event. I understand everything it takes to put an event together from the beginning right through to the end, which is the reason I was very impressed by the event organisers. Change Catalyst appear to genuinely care about Diversity and Inclusion and as such the whole event was centred around making EVERYONE feel included.

Melinda Epler and Wayne Sutton deserve a lot of credit for hosting an event that truly depicted diversity from the range of speakers, delegates and even the volunteers who helped on the day. Free to attend events can be risky so it’s a great testament to the quality of their event that some people who arrived late had to stand until they added more seats during an intermission. I also thought the venue was amazing and for a Tech event, the Bloomberg space was a perfect fit. Sometimes event organisers compromise on the venue but forget how important this is when delegates look back on the day.

Agenda

I looked at the agenda and there were topics I genuinely didn’t know what to expect and as such felt I could use those sessions to do a bit of work. I didn’t get much work done for the simple fact that every session was engaging, and I was challenged on my own bias regarding that initial assumption. I feel they touched on all the relevant topics around diversity and inclusion that anyone operating in the tech space would come across.

Three topics I really enjoyed were;

  • Building Inclusive Products :- here they discussed building inclusive and accessible products from the start and I was thoroughly impressed by the work that Yelp do internally around accessibility.
  • Investing In An Inclusive Tech Ecosystem :- here they discussed the role of investors and accelerators, corporate philanthropists, media and advocacy organisations play in creating an inclusive tech ecosystem.
  • #WorkingWhileMuslim :– here they explored how employers can create a cohesive and nurturing environment.

Networking

Although the topic of Diversity and Inclusion is near and dear to me, I attended this event as part of my Business Development role for my organisation and as such I was hoping to have good conversations. Some organisers don’t take responsibility in the role they can play in getting delegates to talking to each other, share ideas and meet new people. Then you get other organisers who force you to talk to each other, share ideas and meet new people. Change Catalyst found a great balance between the two extremes, by encouraging attendees to talk to each other, whilst explaining how some people are introverts/ extroverts and as such within the sessions they get you to pair up and learn about the people next to you (and not the colleague you came in with). From a Business Development perspective, I made a lot of great connections and had so many useful conversations that I would definitely attend future events and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend future events to my contacts.

Connecting With the Speakers

One of the biggest challenges I found during my time in the events industry was keeping speakers at the event for a significant amount of time. In most cases if a speaker has a 12/20 minute slot, they arrive 5 minutes before and leave straight after as they have other commitments. The issue is, as a delegate I might hear some really interesting things and want to follow up. I managed to speak to all but 1 of the speakers at Tech Inclusion where I am used to speaking to maybe 1 speaker following other events. For me this tells me the speakers came because they cared about this particular event and cleared their busy schedule to be available to not only speak but also connect with the delegates.

Follow-up

A lot of people will attend an event and the day after they will talk about how great that particular event was. This is great if you came to learn something new, but I came to make connections and it takes time to follow up with those people. Since the event, I have followed up with a lot of the people I met at the event, and even had an article published because of a connection I made at the event. I have spoken to a potential investor and arranged numerous meetings because of the conversations that took place and for me that’s success.

All in all, it was a great event and I look forward to future events.

 

Written by Ryan Kowo

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