5 Panels, 12 Panelists, 5 Moderators, 7 Coordinators, 1 Supervisor, 20 + Volunteers.
USA Symposium 2014 was one of the most amazing experiences I have had as a student to date.
It was also the most exhausting – but well worth it.
I wanted to give a wrap of the symposium from a learning perspective. Rather than recount the days events (which you can read more about at the symposium’s official website), I wanted to discuss what I have learned, my take aways.
1. The key to avoiding conflict is communication:
I worked with 6 amazing women. One of the most noticeable features of our team was our congeniality and genuine friendship with one another. When we first met, we took the time to let each other know about our communication style, the types of things that made us angry and how we dealt with conflict. We set the expectation that conflicts would be resolved immediately and that disagreements would not be allowed to fester. The result was a strong team that was able to navigate through the bumps and stresses associated with organizing and hosting a conference. We had conflicts with each other along the way – this is inevitable – but, by dealing with them immediately, we prevented a toxic working environment from emerging – this also helped manage our stress!
2. Holacracies are more efficient when working with motivated people:
Our group opted to use a holacratic structure, meaning we did not organize ourselves in a traditional hierarchical structure with a chain of command. Rather, we identified the different areas that needed to be manage in order to organize a successful conference. Each team member self managed that area. We met weekly and provided each other with updates and we made decisions together in a democratic fashion. This removed the power and the political elements from group work and allowed us to focus on the work at hand. As you can tell from the title of my blog, I was the Panelist Coordinator. My responsibilities included identifying and contacting panelists, and coordinating their participation in the symposium. One of the best compliments I received on the day of the symposium was from a panelist who said,
“I didn’t realize that this was a student run conference. I didn’t realize you were a student! Everything has been professional and seamless”.
3. Behind every successful person is a supportive team:
The success of this conference is not attributed to any one person. It’s attributed to several people, countless people, inside and outside the Glendon community. I am fortunate that Glendon fosters and encourages its student body to help one another. It is one of the most unique things about Glendon. The faculty members, administration and students we approached extended a helping hand. Our families and friends were also a source of invaluable support. In some ways, they were honorary team members.
Thank you Rahul, Tina, Anu, Mom, Dad, Lalita, Radhika, and Tom 🙂
Thank you Erin, Jenny, Dominique, Khushy, Valeriya, Elcy and Professor Cypher, Anna, Teshini and the entire Volunteer Team 🙂