In 2016, I was challenged to organize, brand, and run a 1-day conference for IBM Designers.
In the winter of 2016, I was lucky enough to be selected as 1 of 4 designers to lead a cohort of 60 new designers through a 3-month onboarding and education program. The Design Bootcamp, as it’s called, is a particularly special component key to IBM hiring 1000 designers over a 5 year span. I myself went through the Bootcamp in January 2014, so to come back and lead a group of designers through the experience was a privilege. Leading 15 designers was a tremendous growth opportunity that really helped me get my feet wet leading a team, mentoring, and troubleshooting problems, from HR issues, to visual design challenges.
During those 3 months, I designed and hosted an internal one-day un-conference called Craft Con, a day designed to spread knowledge, skills, and passion across IBM. The idea for the event came about when a colleague remarked that "walking around the design studio was like being at a design conference everyday; you're always learning something new." Yet, most days, we never get to hear from our coworkers, or get a window into their passions outside work. Craft Con provided an avenue to do both.
I designed the brand collateral, digital experience, and scheduled the day’s events, from breakfast to bar crawl. It was a ton of fun and extremely inspiring to hear from my fellow IBMers.
I worked with a developer and fellow section lead, Dan Zaharia, to get the site up and running and had help with set up and day of from a huge number of folks including Andrew Whited, Sara Mansell, Oen Hammonds, David Avila, and Doug Powell.
The Final Product
All said, Craft Con, now an annual fixture in the studio, showcased an amazing array of speakers from both inside and outside our studio. We put on 21 different sessions throughout a full day conference. Eighteen of the sessions were led by IBMers and three of them were keynotes by members of our city's creative community—find keynotes from Brad Woodard and Laurie Frick here. While the Con itself was focused towards the 45 new designers in our 3-month IBM Design Bootcamp program, around 200 people from around the studio attended sessions throughout the day.
The final brand execution was inspired by the ever-changing walls of our design studio. They are constantly covered in Post-it Notes, the byproducts of design thinking and iteration. The bright neon colors have become such a common piece of our color palette, that we often overlook them. I gathered up post-its from recycling bins, old white-boards, and desks around the campus and then repurposed them, by screen printing on them to create the atmosphere for the event.
The digital experience was based on the same palette, a super simple site that the conference attendees used to browse the schedule a few days before, but especially during the actual event. Dan and I focused on mobile first, knowing that the attendees would be wandering around the studio trying to figure out what to go to next, not on their laptops browsing.