New Beginnings: Conference Revisioning

Below is the speech Carol Chan presented at our January conference talking about the new direction we are taking in our upcoming conferences. 

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Hey Guys, — My name is Carol and I’m part of the External Communications core team. I’m a fourth year student at UBC studying Integrated Sciences. I’ve been in the Rover crew for 3 and a half years, but this is really the first time that I’m speaking to the whole group like this. Probably should’ve done this earlier when we were smaller. [Haha] But I’m up here because I wanted to talk to you today about something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time and that is — crew engagement.

A couple years ago I worked with the HR team on workshops and training, but we measured our success through engagement. I learned firsthand how abstract this idea is and how frustrating it is to talk to people about it — because its not concrete. How do you use numbers and SMART objectives to measure how much people like what they’re doing? You can’t. So we measured things through conference attendance and scores on engagement surveys, but I felt really limited and we weren’t getting anywhere. We just did workshops and we didn’t understand how to really tackle engagement. We just talked about it A LOT. But I think that’s when I understood how crucial engagement is to how well an organization can function. You want people to really understand what we’re all working towards and love what they’re doing.

After a few years in the Rover crew, I still didn’t really find an area where I could make a real change in the program, so this year I decided to just do something I liked — And that would be designing things. I joined ExComm to work on the Rover crew website because I thought things were hard to find and it wasn’t organized very well. I had a lot of thoughts on how to improve the layout and functionality.

I went to the first website meeting and I thought we were going to get a lot done — but we ended up having a larger conversation about who we are, our identity, and our brand. I had a lot of questions about these areas, especially about engagement, and I ended up being given the job to help lead the branding initiative. In the beginning, I was pretty overwhelmed and I wasn’t really committed to doing it because no one could tell me what they wanted from me. I kept asking Dylan questions expecting him to give me some kind of end product to work towards. But he didn’t know what the end product would look like either — but he was very encouraging and helped me navigate the uncertainty. Basically, he told me to just get started and he’d be there to support me. It took me a while to understand that my job was to capture our thoughts and feelings about the Rover crew onto paper which we haven’t done since we created our mission statement and values.

Conceptualizing all these things in my head made this project very exciting for me. It was a way for me to tackle one of my weaknesses — a fear of uncertainty. I could also use this as a basis to completely revamp the website and make sure that we were presenting the right messages to all our audiences. But more importantly, it was a way for me to come full circle and help with crew engagement. I was coming to the realization that waiting for someone to solve engagement would be just that – waiting – and no one was going to satisfy my dissatisfaction with it except for myself. In other words, I needed to be a part of the change.

By establishing our brand, I can make sure that everyone understands why we do what we do in the Rover crew and get excited about it. I don’t just want you guys to come out to conferences or events, I want you to be able to take an active role in molding our program — because this program is Rover led. If you don’t like something — Please talk to SOMEONE about it so we can improve it. I’ve been the person who just complains about why the higher ups are not giving us more direction — But I’ve also been a leader and I know how hard it is to communicate to your team. Sometimes, you just don’t know what the other person needs. So you need to ask questions as a leader and as a follower in order for your team to function a lot better. Seriously — no one has all the answers.

After much work, I wanted to let everyone know that we have a working brand document. The first area that we will be applying our brand to is the conference. We will be making gradual changes to the conference in the months to come and I want your feedback on how we’re doing, what you like and what you don’t like.

So why have we chosen the conference first? Well if you think about it, it’s the only time everyone sees everyone each month. If we’re going to apply our brand, it’s the place where we can get the biggest impact. We want people to leave the conference feeling informed, inspired, empowered, motivated and engaged. So what can do we make people more inspired?

Some ideas that we had was to bring back external speakers — aiming for one per quarter and Red talks from you guys, our Rovers. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the crew and one of my favourite things is listening to people speak about their story. Like…what you’re passionate about, what your goals are, the struggles you went through and what successes you’ve achieved.

But mostly, I love hearing about people’s failures. Hearing about other people pick themselves up after a tremendous ordeal empowers me to do the same. And we all have these stories. And they are valuable no matter how small or insignificant you think your hardship is — there’s someone else in this room going through a similar thing. And you will form bonds with people by sharing your experiences and putting yourself out there.

So I want to encourage all of you to think about something you’re really passionate about or an experience you want to share and come up and do a Red talk about it. If you’re not comfortable with speaking, but you know someone who is — please contact them and let me know! We’d love to have them speak to us. I want monthly conference to be exciting and something you anticipate every month. I don’t want it to be a drag, but we need to work together to get there.

So I have three asks for you:

  1. Invite external speakers to come talk to us or YOU come talk to us about an experience you’ve had. Maybe it fits under the next conference theme or has been bothering you for a long time.
  2. If you want to be a part of the team that’s helping to create and implement the crew brand, please shoot me an email at
  3. If you have any questions or feedback about this transformation and how it applies to you or your department, please contact Kevin or Dylan at or

If you’re working on a project that involves the brand of the crew, get in touch with us. And remember, if you’re feeling the same discomfort or dissatisfaction as me about some operation in the Rover crew, please talk to someone about it. Do something about it! Use the resources and tools we have available to you to revitalize the Rover crew.

Thank you.

Carol Chan

One Response to “New Beginnings: Conference Revisioning

  • Mostafa
    2 years ago

    Great speech Carol! Way to go! Thanks for talking the lead on re-branding our conferences and the crew.

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