Looking Back at the 2017 InterWorks Summit


Looking Back at the 2017 InterWorks Summit

by Kaylee Kain

Two weeks ago in Stillwater, Oklahoma, InterWorks hosted our first combined Company Summit. Why is that important? For the first time, IT, Sales, BI, Ops, HR and Marketing gathered together for an unforgettable week of catching up and insightful talks. Unfortunately, our UK and EU counterparts could not be in attendance. The good news, however, is that they took a trip to Morocco for their own summit (more on that later)! There were still a few international travelers at the U.S. event. Members of our ever-growing APAC team made the long flight for what turned out to be a big InterWorks-family reunion, just with more work talk.

InterWorks summit Recap

Above: IW APAC’s Robert Curtis, James Wright, Paul Field, Sergei Barkar and Jia Liu.

One Big, Talented InterWorks Family

While the Summit was about bringing us together, it was also about sending us back out into the world prepped with more support and knowledge than we came to the event with. How did that happen? Good question. It’s an intricate answer that the Summit planning committee works on for an entire year. Spoiler alert: It worked.

“Tableau’s customer conference used to be the week that would refresh me for the year and remind me how much I love the work I do. I think the Summit and Holiday party does that even more now.” –Mat Hughes

To put things in perspective, most of us work in offices with a few dozen people. If you’re a traveling or remote consultant, you’re with clients at their office or working in pajamas from the home office. To walk into a room and realize you are part of a global team of some of the brightest minds in the business is a great feeling. Another aspect of walking into a room of 150+ other InterWorkers: You’re immediately part of the family. The room buzzes with excitement around catching up, anticipation for what’s ahead and the caffeine high that we all got a head start on. 

InterWorks Summit recap

Above: Johnnie Hurns had to sit down during his Summit talk due to a kickball injury the night before. 

Here’s the hard part: When you get in a room full of really smart, motivated and hard-working people, what are you going to say to give them the inspiration to go back out and do more great work? You tap into their competitive nature.

Global BI Practice Director James Wright delivered a message about what we need to do to go out and have a great 2018. He said, “Go out and beat these people,” as an InterWorks logo flashed across the screen. You could see the introspection spread across the room. And he’s right, we do the best work for the best clients and we have the best people. But we have to go out there and do even more to keep that reputation alive. Essentially, we have to “out do” ourselves. Challenge accepted.

The Sessions

We kicked things off with an all-BI meeting, updating everyone on the innovative ways the practice has expanded this year. The rest of the day was full of panels and breakout sessions where each team and specialty was able to present and answer questions.

InterWorks summit recap

Above: Ben Bausili leads the panel over the data science practice.

Principal Analytics Practice Lead Ben Bausili headed up one of the first sessions of the week over InterWorks’ approach to analytics, and Enablement Practice Lead Carly Capitula led a presentation over her team’s current process. Although each session varied in topic, the open discussion and ability to ask real questions about how we can improve was a common quality found in each.

Interworks summit recap

Above: Carly Capitula, Katie Wagner and Brandi White.

The big day of the combined InterWorks Summit was kicked off by COO Johnnie Hurns and James Wright, followed by even more in-depth sessions. Presentations ranged in topic from data design with Experience Consultant David Duncan, Power Tools for Tableau with Product Manager Zion Spencer and learning about ongoing practices in different regions. Each speaker and session only proved how global InterWorks really is.

InterWorks summit recap

Above: David Duncan sharing tips on designing for data.

The IT track sessions were also filled with enlightening presentations by IT Services Manager Aaron Richardson and Solutions Architect Brad Fair, to name a few. IT had a momentous year with huge wins involving hyper-converged infrastructures and VDI. Not to mention, our cloud offerings with Office 365 and ShoreTel have massively saved our clients time and resources. The main topic for discussion, not just for IT, is how we cultivate our relationships with our clients and each other.

InterWorks summit recap

Above: Scott Matlock during the IT track sessions. 

No discussion about InterWorks would be complete without mentioning the vital work our Operations team does. Sales, Operations and Accounting joined forces in the form of Business Intelligence Operations Manager Kirsten Hoffman, Operations Manager Nicole Sackin and BI Sales Manager Jacob Wagner to walk everyone through the steps it takes to pull off a successful client project. Believe us, there is a lot that goes into the process.

InterWorks Summit Recap

Above: Nicole Sackin, Jacob Wagner and Kirsten Hoffman.

As mentioned, a common theme throughout the Summit was the importance we place on our relationships, whether that is a client relationship or between co-workers. Director of Sales Aaron Confer’s presentation also focused on this aspect. The client and consultant relationship is essential to every facet of our practice. Without divulging too much top-secret information, Aaron discussed how we sell and maintain high-quality standards across the board.

InterWorks Summit recap

Above: Aaron Confer during the Sales track session.

Speaking of relationships, Director of Employee Experience Brandi White and General Counsel Will Joyce gave a presentation on the importance of maintaining professional dynamics between co-workers. In light of the current news cycle, it’s comforting to know how serious InterWorks considers any type of harassment. The InterWorks culture places a great deal of relevancy on people and our interactions with one another. Their talk revolved around how we treat team members, our clients and their data or private information.

InterWorks Summit recap

Above: Will Joyce and Brandi White on respecting personal boundaries.

AMA: Ask Me Anything

Switching things up this year was our CEO Behfar Jahanshahi, who did an AMA instead of a typical talk. The questions asked ranged from how to pronounce his last name to how InterWorks became what it is today. It was a great opportunity to hear about so many topics from Behfar in detail. 

InterWorks Summit recap

Above: Behfar Jahanshahi and Brandi White during Behfar’s AMA.

It’s All Fun and Games

The Summit closing ceremonies were just as memorable as the sessions. Multimedia Manager Chris Armstrong played emcee to our very own InterWorks Trivia Game. There was running, singing, poor drawing skills and plenty of enthusiasm to prove who knew the most about InterWorks and our people. Shout out to Carly Capitula and her table’s well-deserved win!

InterWorks Company summit recap

Above: A drawing challenge during the InterWorks Trivia Game.

Before you knew it, it was the end of the day and time to hand out a few awards and prizes. First up was the content team’s second annual Hashy Award. Hashy, short for hashtag, is awarded to those who have gone above and beyond when it comes to interacting with InterWorks’ social media.

Above: Brandi White’s Hashy Award she posted on, what else, Twitter.

This year, Content Manager Garrett Sauls handed out awards to Analytics Consultant Robert Curtis (@vizardofaus), Brandi White (@brandi_HR_) and Katie Wagner (@kfontnowagner)! Senior Analytics Consultant David Pires (@davidmpires) and Analytics Consultant Eugenia Kis (@talva_cz) were the lucky EU winners, although we still haven’t figured out how to send their Hashy statues overseas. Be sure to click their links and follow them on Twitter if you haven’t already.

“People get better at their jobs when we have events like this. It’s like a summer camp, an end of the year high when you get to hang out with your friends.” –Mark Bingham

The Team That Wins Together

After many breakouts and general sessions, we then got to play kickball on the first day and bowling on the second. I don’t think I’m alone in saying how impressive of a job Event Coordinator Brittany Dunn did in planning all of this out. We tapped into that competitive nature in an entirely different way.

The benefits of bonding with your co-workers while playing a team sport should not be under estimated. We did, however, severely underestimate how sore we would be the next day. While it was all good fun, only one team reigned supreme and they have no trouble in reminding you of that every day since. Congratulations to the Red Team! We’ll get you next year.

InterWorks Summit Recap

Above: The Red Team, this year’s kickball champs.

Events such as kickball and bowling were the highlight of Brittany Dunn’s week, who pulled off the whole Summit extravaganza with help from Analytics Consultant Mark Bingham. She planned the entire week to balance between work and fun. We got involved in activities like bowling, where everyone got together to show off their skills (or lack thereof), eat pizza and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

And that’s the real reason why we plan events such as these. It’s an opportunity for our remote people to “come home,” recharge and reconnect before the new year. For those like Mark Bingham who only see regional people, the Summit is an opportunity to have a real conversation instead of one over Slack or email.

“You win, you lose together, you have a Fireball shot together and you have that bond for, not only the rest of the week, but the rest of the year.” –Brittany Dunn

“The conversations you have at the Summit, however brief, create a bond that lasts throughout the Summit, Holiday Party and the rest of the year,” Mark explained. It’s good to get together to discuss work, but more importantly it’s a time for everyone to make memories. For a tech company, we certainly do not underestimate the value face to face contact has on our work.

InterWorks company Summit recap

Above: Company bowling night.

Meanwhile, in Morocco…

We don’t want to leave out our equally important relationships with those in the UK and EU either. If you have the opportunity, always take advantage of a bit of sunshine in the winter months. That’s exactly what InterWorks EU did for their winter conference. The whole of EMEA packed their bags and headed off to Essaouira, a beautiful seaside location on the west coast of Morocco.

The EU team has much of the same challenges as we do in the States when it comes to the importance of personal interaction. For too long we send emails and messages out to colleagues and never take the time to get to know them. For the EU Summit, we not only wanted to share the exciting plans for 2018, but also spend some time together getting to know our colleagues and put a face to a name. It was a full of sun, fish, water sports, quad biking, camel rides, fish, traditional Moroccan dancing, our 2018 vision and strategy, oh and more fish!

InterWorks company recap

Above: The InterWorks EU at their Summit.

Here’s Looking at You, 2018

When you work remotely, it can be easy to forget that the work we do is globally reaching. The Summit and Holiday Party reminded us that we are part of a large and supportive InterWorks family. The Summit brought us together to make new, lasting friendships and catch up on old ones. To bring us all to the same location was a feat in itself, but when you add the significance we got out of connecting with one another for almost a week, the value is unquantifiable.

InterWorks company summit recap

Above: A few InterWorkers catching an OSU basketball game before the Holiday Party.

We may each have a different role and work in a different city, we may be in different departments, but we all have something in common: our strengths. Although they may differ, our skills and expertise each individually contribute to the success of InterWorks.

This week, we went back to our respective countries, states and home offices. But the lessons and reminders we learned last week about our integral place in the well-oiled InterWorks machine will be carried on into next year, to the next client site and the next project.

InterWorks company summit recap

Above: The US InterWorks Company Summit

“At InterWorks you’re just one of us. Enjoy it, learn from it, revel in it, represent it. Stay as long as you’d like. The brand, it’s you.”            -CMO Dalton Parsons

More About the Author

Kaylee Kain

Content Strategist
Event Debrief – December 2017 Whether you’re a Buddy-the-Elf type or a Scrooge, we could possibly all agree on one thing: December may be the most wonderful time of ...
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