Techweek 2017 Takeaways

Last week Chicago’s thriving technology scene was ignited with the annual Techweek conference that took place over the course of several days all over the city and culminated in the Techweek Gives fundraising competition ending ceremony.

Before getting into the new learnings and themes we took away from this year, we want to take a moment to reflect on the expansion the Chicago tech community has seen. There is something to be said about the strong community network that has developed out of the tech scene in Chicago and successful events like Techweek make that base thrive even more. Year over year, we’ve been able to ingrain ourselves in the lively tech culture and network and for that, we are thankful.

From this year’s summit, here are a few of the sessions Walker Sands employees attended and the points they gleamed from discussions in Data, AI and Enterprise Technology:

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Data Intelligence Presented by Atidiv This session was lead by a panel of CEOs from YCharts, Narrative Science, LQD Business Finance and Civis Analytics. Here are a few major takeaways from the discussion:

  • For data intelligence apps to thrive, full integration is the future.
  • Companies should be mindful of AI and the hype behind it.
  • Companies will need to adapt infrastructure before fully integrating AI.

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Customer Acquisitions for Enterprise – Jeff Ellman of UrbanBound & Hireology, Kevin Kent of ReviewTrackers, Erik Severinghaus of SpringCM and Kristi Zuhlke of KnowledgeHound joined this Techweek panel to discuss their perspectives on acquiring B2B customers. Here’s what we learned:

  • Don’t underestimate the process of qualifying leads.
  • Customer acquisitions have a long pipeline and it can be expensive.
  • Don’t waste time with leads that don’t care and aren’t qualified.
  • In the sales pitch, don’t be afraid to make clients vouch for you via logos and use cases

Picture3Taking time to participate in these events always leads to a regeneration of excitement for our team. This was most obvious by the group who participated in the discussion with Mayor Rahm Emanuel who shared plans for integrating technology into the infrastructural future plans of our city. So many years later and we still find ourselves getting giddy over these kinds of advancements.

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to pull off a dynamic event that continues to bring together the tech minded community. As a team, we took away great new learnings and are looking forward to what the rest of this year has in store for the Chicago Tech community

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Admin Appreciation Week at Walker Sands

There’s no doubt Walker Sands has THE BEST admin under the sun. Trish Kalchbrenner, our executive assistant, has been with Walker Sands for two and a half years, and let’s just say it’s a miracle we survived the times before her.

In honor of admin appreciation week, we asked our employees to share what they love about Trish. This post would go on for days if we included all the responses! So, here are the top five reasons why we are lucky to have Trish in our lives.

1. She gets the job done no matter what

“Not only is she the most organized person I’ve ever met, but she’s scrappy — if you need something done, she’ll find a way.” A

Trish constantly goes above and beyond for every person at Walker Sands. Whether it’s coming up with creative solutions to mundane office problems or working her magic to make the impossible seem like a breeze, there’s no problem too big or small for Trish to handle. And not only that, but she is killing the working mom game.

2. She always has a positive vibe

“I’ve never seen Trish with anything but a positive attitude.”

We all know the stereotype of the grouchy admin who is just there just to punch the clock. Lucky for us, Trish is the complete opposite. It can’t always be easy (or fun) managing an office of 80 employees, half of which are millennials, but Trish comes to work every day and radiates positivity. If you’re having a bad day, she’ll lend an ear and know just how to make it better (probably by showing you an adorable picture of her son or recommending the best spot to grab a donut).

3. She knows how to have fun

“She is literally a ray of sunshine and goes out of her way to cultivate our office culture, whether it’s through the company-wide scavenger hunt or simply grabbing a beer in the kitchen on Friday at 5.”  

On top of keeping Walker Sands running, Trish goes out of her way to make sure we all have a little fun throughout the work week. Trish reminds us enjoy the little things in life by organizing our weekly Game of Cones or helping us celebrate holidays like National Pancake Day. Oh, and she is the queen of GIFS (no email from Trish is complete with the perfect GIF).

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Walker Sands’ Culture has a Place for Foodies

At Walker Sands we’ve long prided ourselves on having great company culture. We let our employees help shape our inclusive atmosphere through staff-led kaizens. Kaizen is the Japanese word for discovery, which is something Walker Sands has been supportive of since day one.

Our kaizens serve as grown up extracurriculars that take place both in and out of the office. Through the years our kaizens have allowed Walker Sandsians to lead book clubs, volunteer within the community, compete in intramural sports and create their own data studies.

At the start of 2017, the kaizen system underwent a refresh. Everyone was surveyed and asked to provide feedback on the kind of kaizens they’d be interested in joining at Walker Sands. Based on feedback, a handful of kaizens were retired and replaced with new interests, one of which was the Cooking Kaizen.

juliaThe Cooking Kaizen is responsible for bringing people together to participate in activities all things food related. Last month we hosted our first event, a French themed potluck with a special viewing of Julie and Julia.

The evening was filled with lots of handmade treats like nutella croissants, cheese gougeres and tarte de soleil. Yum! Next month, we’ll be venturing outside the office to the flagship Whole Foods in Chicago to try our hand at a cooking class hosted by a local cookbook author.

The Cooking Kaizen looks forward to continuing to bring our love of food into the office!

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Walker Sands Shortlisted for Crain’s Best Places to Work in Chicago

We are humbled to announce Walker Sands has been shortlisted for Crain’s Best Places to Work in Chicago! We are honored to be recognized among some of Chicago’s best companies.

Untitled designThis is a testament to how we have maintained a great work culture despite rapid growth over the last several years.  In 2016, we expanded Walker Sands by adding 21 new employees to our Chicago team and venturing out West with a new office in San Francisco.

Through all this growth, we continue to recognize the importance of a work culture where people feel at home and comfortable, but also empowered to do great work for our clients. Whether our employees are duking it out in our annual Lip Sync competition or giving each other company-wide shoutouts in the weekly newsletter, they embody our core values every day: learn, support, do.

Crain’s Chicago will announce its top 25 best companies to work on Thursday, April 6.. The winners will then be unveiled publicly in the Best Places to Work editorial feature of Crain’s Chicago on April 10.

Interested in learning more about our award-winning work culture? Check out the current job opportunities at Walker Sands here.

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Team Spotlight: Lauren Gilyard

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Lauren Gilyard, Walker Sands’ sales manager, to learn more about her role and get her perspective on what she enjoys about working here (and to figure out if she’s a cat or dog person).

As part of the sales team, Lauren is responsible for building out the traditional and digital presence across the full sales cycle. She works across teams to execute projects and has been focusing a lot on the digital side of Walker Sands in the past several months.

Lauren is excited to see the company continue to grow and develop over the next several years! Here’s what she had to say:

Lauren

1. What is your role at Walker Sands? What is your day to day?

I am the sales manager, so I’m responsible for supporting all things sales-related.

I’ve been focusing a lot on digital lately, specifically with outbound reach. We’re focusing on building awareness for companies that do not know about us, as well as others that might have needs in the future. It is all about getting in front of people so when they do have a need we are included in the conversation. One of my main tasks is to push our digital offerings, especially to prospects who might think of us more along the lines of PR.

2. What is your day-to-day?

It’s very different. Today, I’ve been in a pitch meeting, sent a bunch of prospect emails and looked at prospects. Sometimes it’s prospecting all day or participating in internal meetings or calls.

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