February 21, 2017

TechConnect: The Fringe Version (An Interview with Lauren Finkelstein)

Week 2 of the Questrom MBA blog series kicks off with an interview with Lauren Finkelstein, President of the MS-MBA club (now the MSDi club) and the head woman in charge of the TechConnect conference.  My aim is to keep these interviews fun, fresh, and not stuffy.  Since Lauren is basically the funniest person in the entire class, her interview did not disappoint.  Check it out:

1. This year's TechConnect was called the "Fringe Version" - can you explain what that means and how you guys came up with this theme?

With Boston being one of the nation's tech hotspots (pun intended), conferences on topics like security and cloud computing are aplenty. Our goal for TechConnect was to do something a bit different- we wanted to explore fringe technologies and focus on where tech could be going as opposed to where it currently is. For this reason, we focused on topics like machine learning and virtual reality. Here’s a fun insider fact for you – when we started planning the conference about ten months ago we knew we wanted to focus on emerging technologies, but the original theme name was Not Yo Mamma’s Tech Conference. However, as we reached out to potential speakers and moderators (including our own professors) we found ourselves explaining our ask with the phrase fringe technologies, a slightly more professional version of Not Yo Mamma’s Tech Conference.

2. What were some of the new takeaways from this year's conference?

Check out #TechConnect on Twitter and our own handle, @BizTechMBA to see what all the chatter was about during TechConnect. Even the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands (how random and fun!) got in on the Twitter conversation, NBD.

3. This year's conference featured speakers from some of the top tech companies in the world. How involved are students in bringing in panelists and speakers?

Students are 100% responsible for recruiting talent to participate in TechConnect. We do this through a mix of our personal connections, introductions through our networks, and cold outreach. I have to give a big shout out to Jeff Bohn, VP of the MS-MBA Association who did a bang-up job of bringing in several of the day’s speakers.

4. As President of the MS-MBA Club, what was the most challenging part of collaborating with other clubs to put this whole thing together?

When companies put on conferences, they have people whose jobs are entirely dedicated to the event. Being a full-time student and holding multiple part-time jobs (not to mention tackling the spring job hunt rush) on top of planning the conference was definitely a challenge in time management. However, after surviving year one’s mod system, I think most of us are pretty comfortable balancing seemingly overwhelming workloads. We worked closely with the Entrepreneurship Club to put on the conference. The leadership of that club are also MS-MBA students, so we were very much on the same page in terms of the technologies we wanted to address at the conference. Of course both of our clubs have other initiatives going on in addition to TechConnect, so early on we established a regular meeting time to ensure that TechConnect stayed top of mind and that we were all on the same page.

5. What advice would you give to students that may be interested in running TechConnect next year? Thanks!

It takes a village!

If you are interested in the MS-MBA/MSDi, please check out their website and join them on Facebook.  Thanks for checking out the Questrom Blog Series!

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