Sharon  O'Dea 

Co-founded by award-winning digital strategist Sharon O'Dea, 300 seconds is a series of lightning talks by and about the digital community.

They aim to give new speakers the opportunity to gain confidence and improve their speaking skills in a safe, supportive environment while also helping to develop their public and digital profile. By offering just five minutes to speak, 300 seconds bridges the gap between attending events and speaking at them with a supportive first step. 

Lightning talks: 300 Seconds x Camp Digital

Our speakers: Laure McKendrick, Halyna Ostroumova, Aershey Khan and Candy Ogbebor

This year we partnered again with 300 Seconds to run a session of lightning talks, with the aim of giving new speakers from underrepresented groups the opportunity to gain confidence and improve their speaking skills in a safe, supportive environment. It’s also a chance for up-and-coming talent to break into the conference circuit, and by offering just five minutes to speak, this session offers a supportive first step for those wanting to make the jump from attendee to speaker.

SHARON: Hello, hello. Thank you for coming and to those of you who are only here because you couldn't get into the pub quiz, apologies, I hope we will make it up to you shortly. We have four smashing new speakers for you today. As Shaun said, they will all be speaking at an event for the very first time favorite. It is part of our initiative to bring more voices, experiences and stories to the stage for you today. That is important, speaking, being heard is important professionally. Partly it is about being seen as a leader, being professional, having a bigger professional profile, it is about how we can position ourselves to take the step up, be recognised for who we are. And if we want a more diverse line-up of leaders, we have to help people to become a more diverse line-up of presenters and speakers. It is not just about being seen but also about what you say. The ideas we share up here on the stage, they get shared beyond this room, right. So, they take on a life of their own, they get quoted in meetings. I have been scribbling notes from the session I went to today and I will pull them out of my back pocket when I meet with clients in the months ahead. The ideas that Lou said to start the day today, I have heard them quoted in meetings in boardrooms up and down the country. The ideas we share on stages like this, they shape our industry and what our industry talks about and what it does. So, sharing our ideas, our research, our thoughts, our learning is part of how wage advocate for change. It is hard getting started. The gap between sitting in the audience where you are and standing on stage can sometimes feel huge. But one we want and need to build if we want to build the next generation of leaders into making more impactful change in our industry. You have to start somewhere. Why not start with just five minutes, just 300 Seconds in fact. And then if you have done 300, you can do 600 and 15 minutes and 20 minutes. In the session before this one, Coco Chan, who spoke on this stage for five minutes, is now presenting for half an hour in the other room. It was so popular I couldn't get in. You have to start somewhere and there is nowhere better, I feel, than in this friendly and supportive crowd that we have here today at Camp Digital. We have four new speakers who have been working with mentors to prepare their talks and they will all bring to us new stories, new perspectives, new ideas. Let's give them all a warm welcome. I am sure we will see a lot more at Camp Digital and across the digital industry. First up we have Laura McKendrick, a senior product manager at Every. She is talking about a problem many of you will be familiar with. Laura, over to you.
LAURA: Hi everyone. This will feel like a long five minutes for me. Hopefully it doesn't for yourselves. As Sharon mentioned, I am Laura, a senior product manager at Every, I have been a senior product manager for six years and I love interacting with people across the business, some of which I class as my stakeholders. As much as I love it, it comes with challenges and if some of you face the same challenges, I want to give you tips on how to get the most out of your stakeholders. I will start by talking about who our stakeholders are. If I look at this diagram, I hope everyone can see that, essentially this is what my stakeholder list looks like now. This might be different or similar to you, based on the size of the business that you are in. As a product manager, my role is to find and prioritise the problem areas and opportunities to go for, related to my product. That might be a physical product, it might be a user journey, a customer segment. It could be anything. Now, simply, I see my stakeholders as people that help me to find those problems and opportunities to go for, in a business. As you can imagine, I am speaking, communicating, having meetings with these people on such a regular basis. I have found there are two common challenges I face. Here we are: I have found stakeholders sometimes bring ready-made solutions to a meeting for me and just tell me to go and build it. Some people think - great, job done for us. Me personally, I think, I need to work backwards to understand what problem they were trying to solve and then I need to do research and validate to make sure that that solution is the right thing. In theory, it is just working backwards. Secondly, I have found that there is a bit of a lack of engagement in meetings from time to time to stakeholders. I have experienced different things, whether it is virtually and the stakeholders, the camera and mic off and it is hard to gauge whether they are and I have seen stakeholders sit and do their e-mails, which can be off-putting but you have to roll with it at the time. They are challenges I have had. I want to give you a few tips to tackle that if you find these yourself. One of which, might seem simple: You need to make it clear why they should attend the meeting. Normally - what am I trying to say - whenever you are putting a meeting in, it is common you would put an agenda with that, so people know what the outcomes are of that meeting. Sometimes it is best to up your attendance if you make it clear why you are inviting Finance, what you want from them, why you are inviting Marketing, what you want from them. I think it increases the attendance and if the person invited can't attend, they are more likely to delicate to someone else so you are still getting the input. I think it is helpful because you have your jobs to get on with, and when a meeting is put in, it can feel like an inconvenience, so have the reason they should attend in there, that is my tip 1. My tip 2 is to get them talking about themselves and their roles. So, I would say it is best to do this at the start of a meeting. I am not a big fan of an icebreaker way, that is mainly because I cannot think of an interesting story to tell about myself straight away. I try to avoid that where I can. I have created a bit of an exercise that might be relevant for you guys today. I have used it, within the first ten minutes of a meeting with stakeholders to get them engaged. So this is the Wall of Problems. I start the session with the exercise with the stakeholder, and ask them to pretend they are behind a brick wall. The bottom line of bricks is the problems they have the solution for. If the wall was that high based on the problems, they can step over. They might stub their toe every now and again and it can be bit annoying but they can live with it for now. The bricks higher up, they cannot see over and it is stopping them from doing the day job, it is really horrendous, they cannot climb over it, because it is too high on the wall. That is the concept, really, the higher the brick, the kind of harder it is to get over the problem that they have got there. So, I think it's really engaging for the stakeholders because they are putting Postits down and getting involved. I find it steers more of the focus on problems, rather than bringing solutions to the table and selfishly from a product point of view, it is helping me prioritise at the same time. Thirdly then, my third tip is: Always take an action away. It might sound pretty basic but whenever you are in a meeting with stakeholders, I think it is wise to take an action, even if it is as simple as - like sending a summary e-mail out at the end. I think once you have got an outcome from a meeting and an action to take away, it is more encouraging that it has been a worthwhile meeting and that the stakeholders should attend again in future.
That is all from me, thank you for the opportunity. I hope you enjoy the rest of the speakers.
SHARON: Thank you. Really useful tips and definitely a problem I recognise from meetings I have been in over the last year or two. We have our next speaker up now; Halyna is joining us to talk really about resilience and persistence. I will hand over to her. Can you give her a warm round of applause.
HALYNA: Hello, I printed my notes, I will be reading from time to time. So, I hope that my talk will be encouraging for you or for the loved ones or friends who are thinking about technical careers. So, I will start with a quote, if I can figure this out. The quote by Victor Frankl, "Those who have a why, can bear with almost any how." I believe you are here because you are interested in creating digital services for our society today. What was the reason that drives you in this field? What are your dreams for life? Today I would like to share my own experience in how I came to this new tech world. I was born in the Ukraine in a coastal sunny city. I came from a very simple family. But I always had a big dream and huge imagination. My degree is non-technical. I'm actually a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature. How useful it is here. And for the last 20 years, I worked in various fields. International logistics, real estate and then in IT, mostly on sales-related positions. I love helping people and this is the part of the good sales person job. I was always driven by my dreams for a better life. We were raised in a very difficult time and now it is also a difficult time here and around the world. I always wanted the best for the future. I always thought that an IT career is something fascinating, the path which gives you the unlimited opportunity for continued improvement, learning, making decent money for living, travelling and helping your people, your family. How many people have told you that coding is challenging and you should consider the different fields in IT. When I first thought about IT, I was discouraged by a comment from my friend that said I should find something closer to my existing skillset, management.
I spent eight years and failed in IT. But everything changed, sadly when the war started. Recently we commemorated the two-year anniversary since Russia attacked Ukraine. As soon as I heard the first bombshell in Odessa, in the early morning, I understood I needed to learn a new skill, I needed to learn coding. I knew it was the only way I could support myself to be able to help my family and my country. I was blessed by opportunity to come to the UK, live with a sponsored family for a year. They helped me to find a great coding bootcamp and I graduated from the bootcamp. It was one of the most challenging three months of my life. I was learning something very complicated, not in my own language but, I graduated, I did it. It was worth it. Later on, I was able to find my first job in IT, as a software developer. Not as a sales person any more. Which sounds fantastic. So, here is some advice that I want to share for those of you who are thinking about moving to more technical roles. Or if you are thinking about the friend, relative, or someone else who might be good for this job, or who, who is thinking about this career. If you are new to this field, you need to start to look for mentors, the people that have already been through this path and that they can help you to define the correct steps to take. Fortunately, Camp Digital today, here, at this place we have a room of people with experience. So please think about whether you can become a mentor for someone or you can, if you are new to this field, you can ask some people about mentorships. If you already have some knowledge that will be valuable to ours, can you put some time aside to share this with others? My next piece of advice is: Be prepared to study all the time. Development is not something that you can learn at once. And then use for all of your life. Technology is changing all the time. And it is good to have knowledge from different domains.
Don't think about coding as a trying thing. So many times I hear different people say - oh, I will try coding. Decide that this is important for you. And you will invest effort in learning it. Find a bootcamp with a reputation if you are willing to do so, with a sponsorship from Government. So, you might not need to pay for that even. Create the schedule. Train your brain and always have a purpose in front of you and this is why we have this slide here. All of this won't be easy. So, you really need to find your why. For me, it was my dreams. My family, my country. The lifestyle. The future me. All this motivated me to pursue my goal into a career in coding. What will drive you to pursue and go for the challenging experience to reach your dreams? Thank you.


SHARON: Thank you. That was a really inspiring story of resilience, of reinvention, and persistence, I think we can all learn a lot from. Next up we have Candy, and Candy is going to talk about empathy in design, two themes I have heard throughout the course of the day and I'm excited to hear more about. Thank you.
CANDY: Hello everybody, I'm a service designer at Nexer and I will be talking about empathy. When I was asked to give a lightning talk, I was not so sure about what I was going to say, I kept on asking myself: Candy what do you want to talk about, what are you passionate about? What do you like? I decided to go for empathy. Empathy because I believe it is a core skill for every designer to have. According to Cambridge dictionary, empathy is the ability to share in someone else's feelings and experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person's position. Before I became a service designer, I practiced law in Nigeria for six years. And while I was practicing, I interacted with several clients with all manner of stories. One thing that explained it for me, was to help me to develop my empathetic skills. But before I became a lawyer, I have always known myself to be a compassionate person. When I was in primary school, you would dare not bully anybody in front of me. I would stand up and fight for that person. I know that I don't look the part, I'm small and bullies are usually big. But there was just something in me that was there, too, I was feeling what they were feeling and I wanted to do something about it. Empathy as a lawyer was mainly to focus on the people. But becoming a service designer has broadened my what I think empathy is. As a lawyer, I was more human-focussed but getting into service design, conducting research and interacting with different stakeholders and facilitating workshops I have seen that everything is interacted. There is the non-human aspect of things that I need to think about, like the environment. Without the environment, we would cease to exist and also organisations. I have now seen that there is a need for me not only to empathise with people but to also think about the non-human side of things and empathise with them. So, while I was preparing this presentation, I had several thoughts come into my mind which I'm not going to answer but I am just going to leave it as thoughts to think about: Can you be a empathize designer without empathy? Can you empathise with users, empathise with businesses and forget to empathise with the people you are working with, like our colleagues? Can we empathise with users, businesses, our colleagues and ignore the environment? I just want to think about it. Are we truly empathetic, or are we selective in how we show empathy. Empathy to me is about inclusivity, making sure nobody is left behind, irrespective of their disability, race, gender, or sexual preferences. Empathy is also considering the impact of our work. As designers, sometimes we forget about the unforeseen impact of our work. Empathy is considering the impacts on the environment and also people. Empathy is genuinely caring for the people that we are designing for and the people that we are working with, collaborating with. Empathy is also understanding that we all have different perspectives, we are all unique in our differences. Empathy is seeing the beauty in our differences and knowing that there is a value that we can bring to our work. Empathy is also being vulnerable in uncertainties. It is knowing that we cannot have all the answers. And it is also being comfortable by learning from other people. Now I have shared my perspective of what I think empathy is but I am still very empathetic towards people, I have just broadened my perspective of what I think it is. And this is how I would define empathy now: Empathy is the ability to truly understand and appreciate the uniqueness and challenges faced by individuals, businesses and the most importantly the planet. I urge you as designers to always wear our empathetic hats in all scenarios. By doing so, I'm very sure we would create products and services that are accessible, inclusive, innovative, sustainable and will address our needs.
Thank you very much. You can reach out to me with the e-mail on the screen:

SHARON: Thank you so much, Candy, brilliant, a great perspective. Now we are on to our final speaker of the day and we have a talk about empowering inclusivity from Aershey Kaan.
Join us on the stage. Thank you.
AERSHEY: Hi everyone. I'm Aershey and I'm going to inspire you to become more culturally and religiously inclusive in your organisation, with just three Arabic letters. Before diving in to these three letters, I wanted to introduce you all to an Arabic world which means knowledge. And when you break this word down, you will get three Arabic letters, Ayn, Lam and Me. And when you associate a Roman Alphabet to each of the letters, based on sound you will get I, L and M. And continuing with that, when you associate key words related to knowledge or ilm, we get innovate, learn, and measure. And with each of these letters and words, I will give you examples of how you can improve cultural and religious inclusivity. With innovate, line managers product managers and delivery managers can prepare and be aware of upcoming cultural and religious events by adding a variety of international calendars and other e-mail applications, like you can see, like, Eid, Ramadan, and Diwali. You can plan for breaks for prayer. You can collaborate with other charities that are cultural and religious. This way we can bring strong ideas and solutions. Some organisations do give volunteering days. With lam, we can be proactive and learn about the different cultures and recommend inclusive religions and being aware of the different needs. There are so many charities and groups we can read about. We can create internal channel or foreign and provide digital spaces to for people from different backgrounds to engage in discussions, share perspective and share understanding, we can organise and host online workshops, webinars and have diverse speakers to educate employees about different cultures. We can celebrate different cultures and festivals, perhaps having Eid parties, Diwali, and Holy, and you know, give out hampers to people celebrating. Make them feel included. With measure, we can use different tools, like Survey Monkey and Google tools to gather feedback from employees about their experiences on diversity and inclusive efforts, helping us to assess the impact, identify areas of improvement and track progress. So, typically, we research from design and learn from that, however we can learn about people or different cultures and religions by doing the research first and learning from that. With this knowledge, we can empathise and we can design and implement innovative solutions and measure the impact of what is being implemented and ultimately break those barriers. I also wanted to promote knowledge sharing with organisations. So that we don't have duplication or build from scratch. And an example where we can use all three is by researching about toilet inclusivity. And looking to the how diverse the organisation is currently. And from the research, you can implement and collect the feedback after the period of time. This shows you have improved your understanding, implemented a solution and seeing if there is a positive impact. And just as a summary, when you break down the word ilm, it is made up of three letters, ayn, lam, me and ultimately, innovate, learn and measure. Thank you so much.