Isenberg and UMass Amherst Campus Energized by TEDx Talks

April 17, 2013


Isenberg and its students played a major role in UMass Amherst's first-ever TEDx (Technology, Entertainment, Design) UMass Amherst Talks, held at Mahar Auditorium and Isenberg on April 13. Inspired by the well-established national and regional TED Talks, the 8-hour event attracted over 400 students and many members of the region's business and idea communities (including faculty members and entrepreneurs).  Most of the gathering's ten supercharged speakers explored topics that touched upon the day's principal theme-innovation.  At the same time, the event proved an exceptional vehicle for networking-especially by students seeking professional contacts.


Isenberg's footprint in TEDx UMass Amherst included the use of its stylish atrium and classrooms in networking and sponsorship activities. And even more significantly, TEDx UMass Amherst was the brainchild of two Isenberg students, Kareem Agha'13 and Nate Tepper '14. A third Isenberg student, Skylar Ritwo '13, excelled as Director of Events. With input from two Isenberg professors, Robert Marx and Flavin Family Professor of Entrepreneurship James Theroux, the duo jump started and empowered a campus-wide team of 25 students who  pursued everything from marketing to event management to fund raising. The latter included $25,000 plus in-kind donations, which paid for the speakers' hotel fees, a dinner for sponsors, and photographers and videographers.


Here's a handful of speakers and their topics that capture the culture of innovation fostered by their peers and the entire TedX program:


  • Brian Halligan, CEO of Hub Spot, a fast-growing Boston-based marketing software developer, urged businesses to empower employees from the millennial cohort by engaging them with continuous learning experiences and adapting workplace standards and schedules to their independent lifestyles.
  • Best-selling marketing author David Meerman Scott described the transforming role of the cellphone worldwide in effecting political, economic, and social change.
  • Moschell Coffey of the Good Dog Foundation explained the impact of therapy dogs in raising spirits among nursing home residents, medical patients, first responders, and others with a high stress levels.
  • Boston Globe innovation columnist Scott Kirsner offered examples of how conservatism and vested interests-even from pioneers like Edison-resisted technological innovation throughout Hollywood history.


Apart from the event's intellectual excitement and exuberance, organizer Kareem Agha had an additional motive that is paying dividends for Isenberg and UMass students. "I wanted TEDx to succeed as a resource that helps students find jobs and build the best professional networks possible," he emphasized. To keep the ball rolling, Agha, Tepper, and co. have a transitional plan in place that should secure TEDx Amherst as an annual "happening" on the UMass Amherst campus.


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