During the pandemic, with in-person events on hold, connecting Temple students and faculty with industry thought leaders presented a challenge. To bridge the divide, IBIT launched a new series of webinars: the Digital Leader Fireside Chat series.
It comprised 12 thought-provoking webinars on hot topics in the business world, led by notable executives. For about 45 minutes over lunch, speakers offered concise yet in-depth perspectives on topics within the overarching theme of digital leadership’s challenges and opportunities.
During these thought-provoking Zoom sessions, participants were encouraged to ask questions, giving participants the opportunity to interact with industry leaders. Attendance was capped and the discussions were moderated to allow for meaningful conversation and learning. Over the run of the series, a total of 83 industry executives joined the participants, in addition to 378 students and 36 faculty and staff. An average of 47 people logged on to each of the chats.
George Llado, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Alexion, kicked off the series with his talk in September. He shared his insights on a topic top of mind for everyone during the pandemic: “The Future of Work.” As someone with 30 years of industry experience in pharma and IT, Llado’s perspective on what comes next is informed by his time with industry giants including Merck and Citibank.
In his November chat, Chris Kearns tackled the provocative question, “Is digital transformation in the end all about the customer experience?” Senior Vice President in Operations and Technology at NBCUniversal, he is in charge of workplace experience and solutions giving him an authoritative take on customer experience. In his past role as Global Head for Hosting Services for the Vanguard Group, his work supported 20 million clients.
Mark Spykerman, Chief Information Officer of AmerisourceBergen Corporation, addressed the topic “The Purpose of Work” in December. It was another salient issue during a year that prompted big questions about life and careers. Before serving as CIO, Spykerman was Senior Vice President, Transformation. In that role, he bolstered the company culture at AmerisourceBergen while enhancing its effectiveness and efficiency.
Other speakers included Linda Descano of Red Havas, Dinesh Desai of Emtec, Inc., Larry Dignan of ZDNet, Cindy Leavitt of Temple University, Stacy Greiner of Dun & Bradstreet, Ron Kim of Merck, Vince Ford of the Curtis Institute of Music, Steve DeLuca of Comcast, and Luke Olenoski of Main Line Health.
Engagement with industry leaders who can share deep insights is a cornerstone of IBIT. During a year that threatened to isolate academia, the Digital Fireside Chat series made it possible for this kind of engagement to go on.