21 minutes | Mar 23rd 2021

Abrupt disruption and the catalyst for innovation ft. Banu Kannu

Every business’s best laid plans were upended in 2020, forcing new strategies to emerge and capable leaders to step up. One such leader is Banu Kannu, co-founder and head of client empowerment at Uncommon Conferences. When faced with the many shifting priorities of 2020, Kannu cemented the mission of her one-year-old business: to use participant-led gatherings to empower organizations to drive change. Listen as Kannu shares her story of disruptive thinking, her unique perspective on the conference software industry, and her challenge to all the transformers out there.   Key Takeaways: [2:00] Banu launched Uncommon Conferences in 2019 with the goal of poking a hole in the bloated and boring conference industry. She saw this world in desperate need of disruption, and it was her goal to shake things up. [2:24] Banu was born in Singapore and moved to Perth, where her family were first generation immigrants. Her background in business and marketing gave her first hand experience of seeing just how much the conference industry needed consolidation and a more user fun experience. [3:57] The hierarchical way of having conferences is becoming more outdated by the year. We must recognize that almost everyone in the room is a passionate professional with worthy and shareable thoughts and opinions. [5:07] Business school gave her the courage and confidence to start up Uncommon Conferences with co-founder Marcus Magee. They sought to provide a fertile environment for attendees to connect with each other and have fun, and for organizers to feel as though their time and money was well spent. [9:13] Banu discusses how Uncommon Conferences was a good idea in theory when it launched, but they knew something was missing. People liked what they were doing, but they weren’t confirming contracts or deals the way they had expected. This led them to really dig into their why. They questioned not only the “why” behind Uncommon Conferences, but for participants and organizers, and even the conference itself. [13:09] Banu identified three simple conditions to make Uncommon Conferences a must have for clients - complexity, urgency, and tension. [16:26] The pandemic shifted the very nature of conferences and events, and Banu talks about going back to the basics for online webinars to make them engaging, rather than a snooze fest.  [17:56] The democratization of technology has been critical. Moving away from the hierarchical structure of conferences gives us participant led events that drive sustainable change and a landscape of collaboration.   Quotes: “Give the power back to people.” - Banu “There is a pair of scissors at the registration desk and we will snip your tie off. You can’t get any work done in a suit and tie.” - Banu “When did we decide that we need to wait for happy hour to have fun at a conference?”  - Banu “If you are not your truest and most authentic self, it’s going to be very hard for you to be good at anything you do.” - Banu “How much better when diversity, democratization, and inclusion are the values that guide change. What changes are you driving in your world? What old thinking are you disrupting?” - Jo   Continue On Your Journey: www.pega.com/podcast Uncommon Conferences
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