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Wilkes-Barre Connect Presentation Day at the FEI Innovation Conference in Boston


Day Three – “Game Time”

Last day at the Boston Innovation Festival – and why break tradition?  Grabbed my cup of Dunkin on the way into the Seaport World Trade Center.  With it being the last day, the energy is definitely down a little, but it hasn’t stopped me from taking advantage of every second.

The morning kicked off with several keynotes, including Mike Hatrick, Group Director IP Strategy for Volvo Group Trucks Technology, Jack Morgan, the Design Lead for Duolingo, and Henry Chesbrough, Faculty Director for the UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business.  Each offered unique insight from their perspectives, but quite honestly, my focus was on going over my presentation one more time.

One great interaction from this morning was being able to spend a few minutes more with Shawn Nason, CEO & Chief Ecosystem Disruptor for the Nason Group – and also MC of the Festival.  As you may remember, I quoted Shawn earlier in the journal with his anti-mild salsa campaign.  I was able to bend his ear on the troubles we’ve had in Northeast PA, changing the culture and perception of the region, and how Wilkes-Barre Connect has dedicated tremendous amounts of time and resources to changing that through process.  I talked about our push to become a true innovation leader and the support and energy we’ve received from entrepreneurs and students to make that happen.  Shawn was complimentary and loved our focus, inspiring me to not give up until our community finds “their hot salsa.”

Before I know it, the Enterprise Design Thinking Summit is ready to kick off, featuring a welcome from Patricio Sanchez, Design Principal from IBM.  It’s exciting to see the presentations from people that I’ve had the opportunity to meet and chat with all week.  I really enjoyed Mike Flanagan from The Mastery Transcript Consortium discussing their role in re-imagining the high school transcript and  Damon Deaner, Director of Employee Experience Design at IBM.  His task of constantly improving the employee experience for an organization with over 370,000 across the globe is completely insane.  His insight into how IBM utilizes Enterprise Design Thinking – and stressing that it’s not a process but a mindset truly resonated with me and the similar approach we are taking at Wilkes-Barre Connect.

Jamin Hegeman, VP Design for Capital One killed it – talking about their transformation through service design.  Jamin still remains as one of the most enjoyable networking experiences I had here in Boston.  We shared common issues experienced in working for membership organizations.  And even though his team consists of 50,000 people compared to our 8, we shared common channels, ideas and thought processes to re-imagine how and what services we deliver our members.

And now the time has arrived for me to take the stage – it’s go time.  I’m actually not feeling nervous, probably because I’ve gone numb.  But there’s no time to be scared, this is what I came here to do – represent Northeast PA.

My half hour presentation was a blur – it raced by in a time frame which felt more like 30 seconds.  My goal was to tell a story, sharing the transformation of our organization and region.  I wanted to be authentic and motivational, describing a process that can be replicated in any type of business – no matter the size or industry.  I presented on the importance of focusing on user outcomes – in our case our members.  I was able to present in front of a great crowd, including some of new “Boston Friends” that I made during the week, including Alex James from Addapptation and Zohaib Gulzar from FUJIFILM.  And I was even approached from attendees requesting a meeting to discuss Connect even further – including Christina Gerakiteys, CEO at SingularityU in Australia.

And with that, the conference has come to a close.  I can’t begin to even describe the value derived from just a few days in Boston.  Whether it’s launching a partnership with MIT Solve, or integrating bitsurf into our NEPA Regional Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, I’m bringing home knowledge and relationships to share and help uplift our entire region.  More importantly, I’m already confirmed to come back next year…not just to speak, but because I was awarded a FREE pass ($4,000 value) for next year as I held the most network meetings during the week.  For now the fear is gone as next year is twelve months away.  But after the week I had, the people I met and partnerships I structured, I’m confident that the fear that bubbled up the last few weeks will never come back.  Northeastern PA belongs on this stage.  We are a hub of innovation.  We are creative.  It’s our time.  So now I ask you again – who’s in?  #NEPAmovement

Joseph Boylan is the Executive Director of Wilkes-Barre Connect – the Entrepreneurial and Economic Development arm of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber.  The Boston Innovation Festival takes place at the Seaport World Trade Center from Tuesday, May 14th to Thursday May 16th, featuring presentations from some of the greatest innovative and thought leaders in the world.

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