UX Connections SXSW Calendar: Our Conference Game Plan

As SXSW begins in T-minus four days, we knew we needed to get prepared in terms of our game plan for the conference – aka how we’re going to make it so that everyone can see something they’re really interested in! We’ve devised a plan, a calendar of sorts, that lays out the top-priority talks that our consultants and team members are wanting to attend, containing dates, times and speakers. This will come in extremely handy in terms of organisation and time management, knowing where we need to be, at what time. So, we hope this may be useful to those also attending SXSW, and if not, we hope it’s insightful as to what topics and discussions we are individually interested in, and why!


    1. The Time Is Now: Radical Re-Housing

  • 11 Mar 2022, 4:00pm – 5:00pm CT
  • Speakers:
    • Michael Joo, Artist at Michael Joo Studio
    • Jing Liu, Founder, Principal at SO – IL
    • Clare Newman, President & CEO at Trust for Governors Island
    • Matthias Schuler Founder at Transsolar

We’ll start off with Ali’s first pick! This panel will be joined by experts in architecture, city development and environmental technology, addressing the challenges of future living space, ranging from building, energy distribution to ecosystem.

Ali Hamra: “Shelter is a basic human need that many unfortunately don’t have. I want to learn about how today’s knowledge about materials and technology can impact housing and go on to create living spaces that encourage community and genuine human interaction, especially in concentrated city areas”.


    2. Breaking the Rules to Make your Experience Matter

  • 12 Mar 2022, 2:30pm – 3:30pm CT
  • Speakers:
    • Kill Kramer, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Accenture
    • Dara Treseder, SVP, Head of Global Marketing and Communications at Peloton
    • Ukonwa Ojo, CMO of Amazon Prime Video & Studios

Next up is Sam’s choice – the symposium held by marketing leads at industry leaders and disruptors. They are going to focus on why brands should listen to customers and how they should innovate enthralling experiences accordingly.

Sam Tung: “User research has always been how designers discovered and designed new experiences that even the users didn’t know they needed. Excited to hear how the 2 successful businesses grow by listening to their customers”.


    3. The Future Of Design: Leading In Hostile Grounds

  • 13 Mar 2022, 10:00am – 11:00am CT
  • Speakers: 
    • Humera Fasihuddin, Co-Director University Innovation Fellows at, Stanford University
    • Perry Klebahn, Consulting Professor Stanford, Director Of Executive Education at  Stanford
    • Ariam Mogos, Emerging Tech And Education Lead at Stanford
    • Jeremy Utley, Director Of Executive Education At Hasso Plattner Institute Of Design At Stanford at Stanford

Then, we’ll head to Gemma’s first pick, a talk Sam is also interested in. The Stanford will talk about how designers, in this ever-changing world, can help tackle challenges springing up every day.

Gemma Burgos: “As a designer, I’m eager to cultivate knowledge in having tools and frameworks that allow me to solve challenging problems along with teams, and be targeted towards equitable design solutions and work”.

Sam Tung: “Designers have an important role to unpack complex problems in the current climate. I would love to hear insights from the design academic field’s perspective on how we can carry out equitable design work”.


    4. Breaking Into Hollywood: Rising Through The Ranks

  • 13 Mar 2022, 2:30pm – 3:30pm CT
  • Speakers: 
    • Cole Dabney, Writer & Director at cdab productions
    • Natalie Haack Flores, VP Of Development at Nuyorican Productions
    • Disney Hall, Creative Manager Of Film Development & Television Programming at Blumhouse
    • Royce Reeves-Darby, VP at Picturestart

Next, will be Tyrell’s first choice. This is a discussion led by four Hollywood producers in which they will reveal their stories of making the way to successful careers in Hollywood as outsiders.

Tyrell McCaskie: “The Hollywood industry is growing every second with new artists, actors, and directors. My main question is, how do you get your foot in the door with this forever changing industry? Is it what you know? Or who you know? I’m eager to listen to the stories from the speakers to find out how an entry-level film maker, without any insider connections or a clue about where to begin, can make their way up through the ranks to get into the famous world of film and television”. 


    5. Equity by Design: Inclusive UX Research Practises

  • 13 Mar 2022, 2:30pm – 3:30pm CT
  • Speakers: 
    • Molly Bloom, Inclusive Researcher at Cisco
    • Erica Ellis, Inclusive Design Lead at Uber
    • Nanako Era, Lead user researcher at AirBnB
    • Liza Meckler, Head of Research Operations at AirBnB

Following on, we have Sophie’s pick, which Gemma is also keen to see! During this talk, the user researchers and design leads will be discussing the ins-and-outs of inclusive UX research and design, especially the practical aspects. 

Sophie Curzon: “Inclusive design in theory seems logical to include within UX deliverables, however in practice, it can often create a less aesthetic and ‘clunky’ system. I’m eager to learn about the inclusive design practices used in the creation of seamless UX for Uber and AirBnB, alongside the issues they faced along the way.”.

Gemma Burgos: “I’m interested in getting further insights in regards to inclusivity in the research step as a key moment of the start of the design process. Possibly looking at how to overcome challenges that might come up on the way, with a special interest in the presented practises for implementing inclusive UX research and design to help plan and develop better, and more inclusive, work”. 


    6. More Than Just A Game: Gaming And Activism

  • 15 Mar 2022, 10:00am – 11:00am CT
  • Speakers:
    • Kristin Bässe, Media & Public Rel Officer at Reporters Without Borders Germany
    • Jerry Chan, Co-Founder at Zeitgeist Studio
    • Navid Khonsari, Founder at iNK Stories
    • Alvaro Piaggio, Policy Advisor at Human Rights Foundation

Then, another talk that sparks Ali’s interest. This panel will focus on gaming and its recent expansion thanks to technological advancements. The industry is brimming with new designs, new audiences and new storylines.

Ali Hamra: “Games have always been present in my life, and have even connected me to new friends and communities. It’s been so exciting to see how each new generation of games pushes storytelling, emotion, and action. With more people now being able to game and connect online, it’s opened up opportunities for real-time experiences (e.g. virtual concerts in games like Fortnite) to bleed into games and open up discussion about almost anything from music to mental health.”


    7. How Video Games Technology Is Influencing TV And Film

  • 15 Mar 2022, 11:30am – 12:30pm CT
  • Speakers:
    • Justin Burnham, SVP, Physical & Digital Experiences at Subnation
    • Sam Wickert, Creative Director at Sokrispymedia

Next, a second talk chosen by Tyrell. This session touches on gaming too but the focus shifts to how the cutting edge technology in gaming is going to shape the future of TV and film production.

Tyrell McCaskie: “Games, tv and film technology have always worked together since games engines became more realistic. Now with the brand new game engine from Unreal Engine, used in parts of the Disney+ hit, The Mandalorian, Unreal Engine 5 promises to further blur the lines of fiction and reality. This is an exciting time for gamers and filmmakers alike as photorealistic imagery can be captured like never before with dynamic lighting engines. This is just a taste of what we can expect, with more talks about how Unity, another famous game, has also made its way into the tv and film industry, as well as how Netflix successfully added a choose-your-own-path game feature into its popular tv film, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”. 


    8. Machine or Human? The Ethics Behind Smarter AI

  • Mar 18, 2022 4:00pm – 5:00pm CT
  • Speakers: 
    • Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau, CEO & Publisher at MIT Technology Review
    • Rana el Kaliouby, Deputy CEO at Smart Eye

Another future-oriented talk is the penultimate pick, this time from Lisa. AI technology has made so much progress that we are closer than ever to the world of machines as portrayed in sci-fi movies. The speakers are going to analyse the potential of emotional intelligence and the risks and benefits of AI.

Lisa Nordgren: “As a designer developing digital products to be used by people in everyday life, it will be interesting to hear about the potential and risks of the increased integration of AI, and to learn about how it can influence our future work at UX Connections”.


    9. Design Leadership: Creativity Driving Business

  • (Date TBA)
  • Speakers: 
    • Katrina Alcorn, General Manager of Design at IBM
    • Christie Dames, Co-Founder and CEO at TechTalk/Studio
    • Sandy Fershee, Global Director, D-Ford Detroit Labat at Ford Motor Company

Lastly, we’ll head to a mutual choice, from Gemma and Sam, around design leadership. The three speakers are going to shed light on traditional organisational transformation through creativity, along with the skill sets required in the post covid world.

Gemma Burgos: “Successful design goes hand in hand with business, I’m looking forward to hearing perspectives from professionals on how design and creativity can help businesses thrive in this ever changing era”.

Sam Tung: “Part of our role as UX designers/consultants is to present and defend our design decisions.  I would love to hear how other design leaders push for innovation within the organisation and the new mindsets needed to solve complex business challenges”.


Hopefully, that should take us through the whole of SXSW! Of course, we’ll be heading to more talks and sessions than those listed, as we have a whole team headed there! Plans may change, and timings may shift, but we can’t wait to hear the business insights and industry knowledge that SXSW has in store for us. We hope this has been helpful in not only shedding light on some topics being covered at the conference, but also why our consultants are so excited to attend. If you or someone you know is headed to SXSW, don’t hesitate to let us know what you would like to go see!

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