IBM Best Student Recognition Event 2015 – Day 2

So day 2 began at 8:00 when I ran into Suqi in the elevator as we left our rooms. We grabbed our breakfast and said good morning to everyone else who seemed well rested – at last! We walked to the bus as we were stepping on, we got a bracelet strapped on to our arms with, wait for it, a phone number written on it! Joked on the bus about feeling like little kids who would most likely get lost. Talk about generating expectation for the day ahead.

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Suqi (not Suki) featured in the middle.

Anyway, we arrived at an unassuming building next to the IBM offices we had visited the day before and as we went it, the entire atmosphere signalled that today would be radically different to the previous one. The much anticipated moment: the entire group was divided into 10 teams (groups of 6) and immediately assigned tables and not allowed to change groups. Mantra for the next 24 hours: we are in this together and we will see this through. 

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The space where I was about to spend the next day. Yes, please!

On the table there wasn’t much (post-its, markers, etc.) typical Startup Weekend kit. What wasn’t typical though, was the person who led us throughout the morning. Marcel Baron, what a cool dude. He’s the Senior Managing Consultant – IBM Interactive Experience and he’s all about human-centric everything: feelings, experiences, creativity and other elements not-so-top-of-mind for tech startup sessions. My favourite thing about the content of his segment was that it was ambitious and the concepts introduced were challenging, real and relevant, they didn’t feel easy nor dumbed down for purposes of the event. If I had to summarise the entire morning in a few words: a ton of right brain warm-up exercises followed by a crash course in consumer-centred solution design and marketing led by someone who knows about what he’s talking about. In retrospective, my favourite part of the day.

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Marcel Baron and his crash course which I very much enjoyed.

On teamwork

The team. Let’s go there. What is it really like to be assigned to work together with 5 strangers whom you share little with except being on the same mission for the next 24 hours. When you’re aiming to come up with creative solutions through brainstorming, feeling comfortable enough to propose the absurd is important. Sharing ideas takes courage because you’re putting yourself out-there. Now add to that, sharing those ideas with strangers whom you’ve just met. Over lunch we discussed the morning session – lots of mixed opinions. For some, the instructions felt too vague and kinda random, for others it all made perfect sense.

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This selfie includes not only my team but Demelza Farrer to the far right, Clara, Robert-Jan and Marcel in the back, respectively. The lady in the red blazer taking a picture (selfie/inception selfie of us?) was one of the IBMers who would drop by every so often to help each team when it go stuck.

The startup

The afternoon was probably the toughest bit of the day, at least for our team: putting our solution down on paper. Here’s where it got messy but I wouldn’t change anything because now as I type about today, the pace at which we developed those ideas was product of the stress. The session was led by Pierre de Wit, Lead for IBM Centre for Advanced Studies Benelux and IBM Extreme Blue Europe.

IMG_2995 We had an inconclusive afternoon and that is exactly why the next part of the day fell perfectly into place. Remember the bracelets?

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Don’t-get-lost-please bracelets.

The treasure hunt

We were split into different teams and given another mission but in comparison to the entire day, this task was a pretty relaxed game around Amsterdam to sightsee. We weren’t left entirely to our devices though, these two are Wing and Martin and they are the coolest cats in town.

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Thank you for saving us from the embarrassment of having to use the kiddie bracelets.

Here are a few pictures of our Amsterdam silliness including but no limited to: getting inside a very constricted space for a picture, singing the IBM song in Vondelpark and standing everywhere being clueless to look at our treasure hunt map – 🙂

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Romantic dinning

By 7 pm we were mentally and physically exhausted. When I was feeling like I would almost collapse, what a sweet surprise IBM! Thank you for taking me out on a date. We wined and dined and joked around for a few hours in a lovely restaurant with a view.

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These are Martins. Martin from Czech Republic and Martin from Slovakia. Such good sense of humour, thank you for being great company.

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Tomorrow is the most important day. I’m really excited about learning about everyone else’s cool ideas. I hope my team and I get some enough hours of sleep. We need to come together and deliver.

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