A YDS Story Told By YDS Co-Chair, Hannah Anderson

*On March 1, 2023, SEGD YDS rebranded to SEGD Emerging Experiential Professionals (EXP).

Read Time: 7 minutes

*On March 1, 2023, SEGD YDS rebranded to SEGD Emerging Experiential Professionals (EXP).

Hannah Anderson, Construction Administration Lead at Kolar Design, has over a decade of experience in experiential graphic design and leadership. Over the course of her career, she has performed on multi-disciplinary teams to create successful and award-winning designs for the built environment in a wide range of market sectors. As an active member and volunteer with SEGD, Hannah has served on the SEGD Board since 2018, been a former co-chair for the SEGD Cincinnati Chapter, and as of this year, served as a co-chair for the SEGD Young Designers Series, formally the Young Designers Summit.

As we prepare for the second installment of the 2020 SEGD Young Designers Series this Thursday, July 23, we caught up with Hannah Anderson to ask her about her experience with YDS; how she initially got involved with the program, what to expect at this year’s event, and how the program is evolving to meet the demands and challenges of a shifting society. 

Her answers are indicated below.

How many Young Designers Summits have you attended in the past and in what kind of capacity have you attended?

I have attended three Young Designers Summits in the past, once as a full registered attendee and twice as a board member or chapter chair, dropping in to participate in roundtable discussions. 

Last year, the third time I attended the YDS event, I had joined a committee to help plan the 2019 SEGD Conference Experience while also acting as a professional presenting speaker at the larger conference event. This was where I decided to get more involved with the Young Designers program.


How did you first get involved in the program and what was your experience like?

I got wind of the Young Designers Summit through George Lim, the former YDS chair. He decided to take the event under his wing and build a curriculum that would bring more value to the program and act as a better resource for young designers.

What I experienced as an attendee was a program that engaged and empowered young designers to get up in front of their peers and tell their stories. Here is a fantastic program developed specifically for those who are new to the EGD realm, possibly new to SEGD, for the purpose of guiding these young individuals through an intimidating volume of professionals they don’t know and providing them a platform where they feel comfortable to speak up. Of course I latched on and decided to drop in to join the discussion.

When George stepped back in 2019, a committee was set up that enabled us to do some pretty great things as far as bringing new excitement, value, and experience to the event.


How will this year’s Series be different from previous years—other than the obvious virtual aspect?

This year’s event is not a dramatic shift from previous years, but instead it’s a reflection of what we’re building towards—building engagement through student design programs, establishing cornerstones which weren’t formally stated previously, and creating a better process fundamentally for this program to continue to grow in the future.

Instead of a summit, the committee created a series in which participants would enroll in and be provided a full agenda of activities and meetings throughout the entire SEGD Conference Experience. There would be meet-ups, portfolio reviews, informal icebreakers, roundtables, formal events, NEXPO walk-throughs with a mentor—whatever young designers felt they needed to feel just as welcomed and as valuable as established SEGD members.

However, we had to package up everything and set it aside after Covid hit. Still, we can’t sit back and not do anything. We need to keep the conversation going. The YDS has a higher level purpose than just sharing work. It’s connectedness. Peer to peer conversations, mentors to mentees teaching and learning from one another—even if means we meet virtually. We’ve committed to two events so far and, based on their success, we’ll be able to offer SEGD young designers even more.  


What challenges in today’s professional environment are you hoping to help young professionals overcome through this event series?

Ultimately, this year’s Young Designers Series is focused on helping young designers stay connected and keeping doors open and opportunities present. With the pandemic, there is no in-person conference platform to reach out to this group and engage them. I can only imagine what it’s like to be a recent grad and now be pushed into this unique situation. That is why my fellow co-chairs and I felt it was more important than ever to put on the YDS.


What are the YDS’s six cornerstone themes and how were they chosen?

The six cornerstones of the YDS are Transition, Communication, Creativity, Consistency, Community, and Inspiration. My YDS co-chairs, Jonathan Posnett and Elizabeth Griswold, and I came up with them based on SEGD surveys from the past that indicated popular objectives young designers need to focus on as they develop professionally. We’ve formally established them this year to provide a common thread between any YDS event or series, making sure the content speaks to at least one or more of these cornerstones so everything has a connection. Throughout the series, the speaker presentations will all have a commonality, then bring it all to an open discussion where young designers can ask the questions they haven’t been able to before.

This year, we picked two cornerstones that we thought were easy to rally around and relevant to the times; those being Community and Inspiration. We’re essentially testing the series in increments to see if we should continue the program through the rest of the year.


The featured YDS themes this month are Community and Inspiration. What does being involved in the SEGD community mean to you and how has it inspired you in your professional career?

I believe that, to-date, you get exponentially back what you put into this organization. It’s not enough to pay for a membership and sit back. Go and get it, and share it!  I joined as a member within the first three years of graduating; a year or two later, I was a chapter chair who hadn’t yet attended a conference; then, I was voted into the Board while becoming more and more involved in the events.

After each event, I bring everything I learn back to my studio and share it with those who weren’t able to attend. I’ve grown my leadership skills, drawing a lot of parallels from my experience with SEGD and my experience with the firm. The EGD industry is fluid and still very niche to where I have to explain it a lot to people. But that’s where SEGD comes in. Conversations are valuable, and you don’t have to try so hard to find information about this industry once you know that it’s there. 

SEGD has brought all these things together visually at a time where we can’t be together. We’re seeing participants that we would not be seeing at the conference anyway. Covid is changing the way we design, but it isn’t a barrier for inspiration. Through virtual programs, we can stay connected, get inspired, and share our learnings.


What is one of your favorite inspirational quotes that has helped inspire you as you’ve developed your own career in EGD?

I have had a quote on my company bio for 12 years now that, if I had to choose again, I would still use it. The quote is by David Thoreau: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” It’s all about diving to the root of the cause, interpreting and analyzing what’s in front of you instead of just taking it at face value. This is true of how I’ve approach design in my career.


Can you give us a quick one-liner for why young designers or new experience designers should attend this event?

Both fun and engaging, the Young Designers Series is your platform to ask questions, speak up, and have peer conversations with industry professionals.


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The Young Designers Series, as its name suggests, is and has always been a program meant for young designers, but through the eyes of those industry professionals, volunteers, academic task force participants, and event chairs—like Hannah Anderson—who have seen first-hand the impact and good this program has done for so many new to the industry and to SEGD, for them, YDS is an essential learning tool that aids in understanding, professional growth, and leadership—no matter your station or profession level.

Special thanks to 2020 YDS Co-Chair Hannah Anderson for offering her experience on YDS and sharing her passion for the program.

The second installment to the 2020 SEGD Young Designers Series, INSPIRATION, kicks off tomorrow, July 23, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT. Grab your FREE ticket today and join the conversation!

Thanks to Neiman & Company for sponsoring this event.