M&L Virtual Event a Success

M&L Virtual Event a Success

Read Time: 4.5 minutes

What began as a live management and leadership event in Cincinnati became SEGD’s first full-day virtual event offering—complete with virtual tote bag!

On Thursday April 23 and Friday April 24, amidst sheltering in place, SEGD’s “Management & Leadership: Take 20” gave a virtual stage to 19 local and international speakers, in service of 86 participants, from design students to thought leaders.


Thursday April 23

Pre-event Mixer

Kelly Kolar, principal, founder and chief creative officer of the now 30-year-old Kolar Design (Cincinnati) and Presenting Sponsor of M+L: Take 20, opened the afternoon mixer with wisdom passed down from her father: “Fail fast and fail forward.” Following Kelly, Tamara Harkavy, founder of ArtWorks (Cincinnati) quoted Gloria Steinem in her address: “Empathy is the most radical of human emotions.”

Tamara’s talk emphasized that creatives are change makers with the power to make something from nothing; this idea really set the tone for the event. A deep sense of empathy and community was apparent throughout both days, which were filled with timely insights for navigating the business of design.



Friday April 24

Session One: From Cradle to Legacy, Models of Business Success

The first of three lightning talks began with entrepreneur Andrew Salzbrun of experiential design firm Agar (Cincinnati), who has been developing Porch Pours, a virtual happy hour with dedicated playlist, cocktail recipes, and photo sharing. Second, Abigail Honor, partner at award-winning international firm Lorem Ipsum (London), spoke openly about how to overcome the stresses inherent in remote teamwork and provided a dose of empathetic consideration for what creativity could be in a time of crisis. Joseph Girandola, artist and president of the Art Academy of Cincinnati followed with light-hearted reflections on working with students and his own personal work made mainly from duct tape.


Session Two: Modeling Design Impact

Kate Hanisian, founder and executive director of Design Impact (Cincinnati) presented eight points for meaningful business practice, including: stick to your why, but adapt your model; get comfortable with ambiguity; and what you say yes to builds portfolios, what you say no to builds power.

Designer and cultural anthropologist Phil Otto, founder of Seeds & Growth (Los Angeles), followed with talk, “Small & Nimble.” Otto focused on scale as a continuum rather than a fixed idea that allows for various forms of business success.

University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning professor and entrepreneur Renee Seward, founder of See Word Design, was the last speaker in the lightning rounds, delivering an introduction to her phonetics-based app that makes learning to read English easier. She echoed the sentiment, “Going back to normal is not the way forward.”


Session Three: Collaborative Capitalism | Lunch & Learn: Ask Me Anything

Session Three, a presentation by business coach and author JB “Jim” Herrera, chief entrepreneur of Perceptive Insights (San Diego) included laser sharp ideas for every business leader and led into a learning lunch featuring fabrication experts Greg Teffertiller of IMG (Norcross, Ga.) and Mike McCarthy of DCL (Boston). These sessions dovetailed into the afternoon, when speakers dove into the “how” of business growth, strategy and change, and pivoted to address business that’s anything but “as usual.”


Session Four: Growth

Jim Herrera returned and moderated a discussion on shifting from “Problem to Possibility” with the Kolar Design team: Hannah Anderson, construction administrative lead; Blake Kishler, designer; and Joell Angel-Chumbley, creative director. Together, they modeled ladders of leadership that apply to growing creative agencies and that support scenario planning strategies.

Session Four continued with “The Essential Entrepreneur,” a practical look at starting and maintaining a design business presented by Brittney Butler, co-founder and creative director of Iconograph (Richmond, Va.) and Tristan Valencia, founder and principal of Studio Black (Brooklyn, NY), who offered: “If we believe this is the new normal, we are not learning.”


Session Five: Strategy

First, futurist Valerie Jacobs, chief growth officer at LPK (Cincinnati), posed potential scenarios for life after the pandemic and what those outcomes can mean for designers right now. Alex Burkholder, studio director and northwest regional brand lead at Gensler (Seattle) followed and addressed managing a business—both in and through crisis—by drawing on specific competitive advantages.


Session Six: Change Agency

One of the few givens in life is change; Joel Kashuba, SVP of design and innovation with Fifth Third Bancorp (Cincinnati), shared his behind-the-scene playbook on designing interaction for positive human experiences. Next up, Tysonn Betts, design director of two Proctor & Gamble divisions called for those who have been given much to offer much in return. Betts then joined Hilary Jay, SEGD’s director of education for a moderated discussion on learning from corporate America.


Session Seven: Future Forward

The final session was presented by Kelly Kolar and partner Serge Bruylants, managing director and workplace strategist at BrandSpace (Singapore). The two used this historic opportunity to unveil the Kolar Experience Institute, a passion project many years in the making.


We were humbled by the level of support we have received from sponsors for our (unexpected) first virtual full-day event in spite of the circumstances, including session sponsors ADEX International, DCL, IMG and SignAgent in addition to Presenting Sponsor Kolar Design. We also want to extend a special thank you to our tech expert and long-time Gold Industry Partner Paul Anderson of SenovVa, who always guides event production with patience and humor.


Missed the live event? It’ll be okay, check back with us soon: sessions and dialogues will be made available on SEGD.org in coming weeks.





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