Event: Design Leaders Conference

Design Leaders Conference is one day conference taking place on 9th November, aiming to recharge design and agency owners, design and creative directors, design and account managers, and anyone interested in leading a design team or running a successful creative studio. We caught up with Brian Herron, part of the organising team, to get some insights into what to expect.

Every day in work design leaders are faced with big problems.

Some are immediate and obvious, like getting work in the door and then actually delivering it. But others are slow burning: how to turn my most promising people into really great designers (and then keep them!)? How to get above the grind and spend my time on higher value work? Is now the time to hire or should I wait until we’re in a better place financially?

Last year at OFFSET I was part of a panel discussion on design leadership. There were about 200 people in the room all Irish business owners or creative directors of some stripe. When I asked the room how many had had any formal training in management only two hands went up.

Extrapolating out, 99% of design leaders in the country are winging it.

That’s not to denigrate winging it (our industry thrives on it) but it was indicative nonetheless of how little emphasis we place on basic professional skills. We insist on learning the hard way, from experience.

Maybe there’s a better way.

The Design Leaders Conference is a day long summit for designers who have moved from practitioner to manager, from doer to mentor, and from creative professional to business driver. The line up of speakers is made up of both leading international thinkers and Irish peers is aimed primarily at individuals who are managing teams in micro businesses to SMBs. These are people who are ready to share their experiences in growing businesses like yours.

It’s a comprehensive line up, but lets pick three speakers:

Creative consultant, Emma Collins of Collins & Co is going to create time and space for us to consider what it actually means to be a leader in a design organisation, and how awareness of self can lead to positive business outcomes.

Peter Czapp, a financial expert with more than fifteen years experience in helping agencies grow, will show you how to keep track of profits while your business is growing and share the secrets of the most profitable agencies.

And Blair Enns, author of the influential Win Without Pitching training program for creative professionals, will give a rallying call to Irish design companies on how to be a better business. (As well as deliver practical tips and trick that can meaningfully affect your bottom line.)

There’s more: Studio Dunbar from the Netherlands; Katharine Pulford from Logitech, Switzerland; and David Palmer, creative director at LOVE. It’s a lot packed into a day. That’s not to mention the opportunity to hang out, network and reconnect with the people you collaborate with and compete against.

The point is this – do you take your career and your business seriously enough to spend one working day of the year thinking and talking about how you can be better at your job?

If the answer is yes, grab one of the last few tickets.

The Design Leaders Conference is an initiative of Design Enterprise Skillnet and the Institute of Designers of Ireland