A look back at Biztech’s experience at the 2017 Harvard Business School Tech Conference.
By: Jeff Chen
Last weekend Harvard Business School held their 23rd annual Tech Conference at the HBS campus. A party of 12 Biztech members and I were extremely lucky to be a part of the tech conference – it opened our eyes to new ways in which technology is enabling businesses to help better humanity. Many well distinguished and famous technology leaders were a part of this conference as keynote speakers and panelists. Their area of expertise ranged from FinTech, SpaceTech, FoodTech, Healthcare, and much more.
When someone asks me what my favourite part of Boston is, I answer with three words: Tech, Harvard and MIT. Just across the river there are two of the world’s most prestigious and historical schools and aside from Silicon Valley, Boston is the largest tech hub in the US! Companies and institutions here frequently organize events allowing students like us to learn about the latest cutting edge technology and its impact on business.
I came in to the conference with the expectation of learning more about the Fintech industry but I actually walked away learning about industries I had never even stopped to think about. One of my favorite panels was on the Future of Food. The panel consisted of the co-Founder of Toast (a restaurant POS systems startup), a SVP of Business Development at Doordash, the principal of AmazonFresh, and the founder of a food odor technology company. One of the most thought provoking questions was asked by a member of the audience. They were concerned about the rise of food innovation, and how it could erode the social bonding and romanticism that surrounds shopping for food and cooking. The panelists response was interesting, they all agreed that technology should merely be an aid to the consumer and that it play a complementary role in the kitchen. With the trend of big data and the rise of the informed consumer, new business models have started to emerge addressing those specific needs. For example, AmazonFresh caters to the modern consumer who has little free time to go to multiple markets, but wants a wide variety of food items. It is a one stop shop for quality grocery, household items that offer a multitude of customizable options such as kosher, gluten-free, organic, same day delivery, and store pickup. With the data insights already collected from Amazon customers, Amazon is able to better tailor recommendations based on your lifestyle preferences and taste.
Some other highlights of the day were keynote speeches from Carolyn Everson – the VP of global marketing solutions for Facebook, Deep Nishar – MD of Softbank, and Bozoma Saint John – Chief Brand Officer of Uber. One of the keynotes that stood out to me was a speech given by the founder of Levo (Caroline Ghosn), a career skills platform built specially for millennials and young professionals. Her empowering speech reminded me of an MIT commencement speech I heard this summer by the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook. His best word of advice for the young graduates was to think about the purpose of why you are developing technology. Chasing ulterior motives like money and fame will never get you recognition, but if you can develop a passion and have a solution that helps improve humanity, any amount of time spent on it will be worthwhile. This is precisely the same reason why I want to pursue a career in Fintech because it has the potential to create value for society by making our everyday lives much more efficient, and creating more trust in the financial system.I believe in making changes for the better and want to feel proud of my role in contributing to humanity at my job.
All in all this was a memorable and eye opening experience for our club members, we walked away from this event feeling inspired to pursue our dreams and to learn more about the world of technology. I am very grateful to be a part of tech conference and will definitely be attending the event next year. I look forward to going to more Biztech events like this with our members as well as more tech conferences and networking events in the future!