My very first professional conference ever was attending the CASE IV Conference at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City. It was my first experience with CASE and with a group of people who would become friends, employers, colleagues, and mentors.
This year’s conference was in the beautiful city of San Antonio, and it was the first time the conference has been there in at least 14 years.
5 Key Takeaways
After a week of networking, meeting new friends, connecting with old friends, and listening to several sessions, here are my conference takeaways.
The number of sessions focused on leadership and culture building speaks to the importance of this work. From the leadership pre-conference, to breakfast with CASE President & CEO Sue Cunningham, to hearing from multiple presenters about creating culture. I think our profession is starting to understand the work we do is important but so are the people. Keeping good people happens because of good culture and good leaders. We have to continually improve in this area.
Stories connect us. Both keynote speakers (Freeman Hrabowski and Dr. Juliet Garcia) shared their incredible message about the work of higher education and the challenges we face through relevant, strong stories.
As a profession, we sometimes focus too much on facts and figures. How much better would our points and our value propositions be if we could consistently tell that message through stories. Hearing their stories about bringing people together, challenging their community, and standing up for what they believed in encouraged me to do a better job telling my story and the story of my institution.
We Need to Bring Others Along
In hearing Dr. Garcia speak, she noted that when we’re invited to the table to check a particular box, we need to do that work well. However, we also need to bring someone along with us. If every person is inviting others to the table, our world will be better for it. This struck a chord with me.
I think it’s also important to bring others along with us and make space for them in every day work, too. It doesn’t always have to be a monumental moment to invite others in. I had a conversation with a member of the conference planning committee, and she thanked me for encouraging her and inviting her into the room. It was a beautiful illustration that we need to others joining us in the work, and it’s a conversation that will stick with me for some time.
After reflecting on this, I realized how many times I’d been invited into the room. I had a former boss who was incredible at this. Any time he was invited to something, he asked if I could come too. That intentional effort by him helped me to grow as a leader and as a mentor. I’m grateful to him for that.
So much of what we do is react and respond as marketing leaders. We have to. However, two of the sessions I presented focused on the intentional work we must also do. Trey Laverty of the Slate Group and I talked about print marketing trends and being intentional in that work, and Rachel Putman and I spoke about being intentional in bringing authenticity to our work as communicators. People in both sessions mentioned it made their conference.
I think the reason these sessions resonated was because they focused on specific, detailed actions that people could do to make a calculated shift or pivot. Both sessions offered practical tips and big picture thinking, which helped the sessions relate to anyone in the room. They were a good reminder for me to slow down and be intentional.
Higher Ed Community is Special
This conference reminded me of something I say often. Higher Ed friends make the best friends. How lucky are we to work in an industry and a profession where we can connect, learn, encourage, and mentor one another.
I am so thankful for this community. I look forward to the next event that brings many of us together and hope to continually elevate the work we do to change lives in our city, state, region and world.
Until we meet again.
One response to “CASE IV Conference Highlights”
Great take-aways, Carrie. I agree 100%!