TechCon 2024

Guest blog by Holly Holcomb

TechCon 2024

Booth Technology Group hosts TechCon each year as a forum for discussing the technologies changing our world, for engaging with the people and leaders building our future, and for celebrating Chicago’s growth as a Tech destination.

On March 22nd, we brought together 200 attendees and 28 speakers to delve into the conference’s theme for this year: Embracing Disruption – Differentiation in the Age of Automated Everything.

Career Agility
The conference opened with a keynote address from Marti Konstant, ‘95, a workplace futurist leading AI Strategy @ NextCoLabs and best-selling author of Activate Your Agile Career. Marti spoke on the importance of career agility, inspiring students to embrace disruption and change in their own careers.

“Provocative, made me reflect about moments in my career and what I could have done differently” – conference attendee

“Especially enjoyed Marty’s (professional) branding tips, as well as the theme around adapting to the pace of change within the modern-day workforce.” – conference attendee

Marti Konstant with attendees

Chat GPT Workshops
Since the release of ChatGPT in 2022, it has become clear that AI, and specifically LLMs, are becoming increasingly important to understand and strategically implement in businesses. TechCon offered two workshops for attendees to learn more about how LLMs work and how to use them effectively. “Custom GPTs for Business Leaders” with AI/ML advisor Manny Bernabe
and “Introduction to Language Models for Business Leaders” with Booth PhD and ML expert Kevin Lee, ‘24.

“Generative AI is clearly rapidly becoming an indispensable tool, so this was a great workshop to dive into some hands-on practice… I left feeling more confident in experimenting with GPT” – “Custom GPTs for Business Leaders” workshop participant

“I learned more about the underlying mechanics which inturn will help me to better utilize how we use data in training our Language Models”- “Introduction to Language Models for Business Leaders” workshop participant

Left Kevin Lee, Right Manny Bernabe

As a fun addition, Mason Yu on the TechCon team created a TechCon GPT to ask customized questions and get the best TechCon experience. For example, type in the prompt “I’m interested in healthtech and I have class from 1:30 PM. Tell me what panels I should attend and how to plan my schedule.” and get a personalized TechCon schedule! Check it out here: How to use, Try TechCon GPT

Panel Highlights

In Chain Reaction: Tech-driven Transformation Of Supply Chains, the panelists underscored how different types of technology from data structure to drone delivery, could be used to improve supply chain processes. They agreed that since the COVID pandemic, everyone suddenly became much more interested in their work, realizing the importance (and complications) of supply chain management.

Quote from lance on what he learned and could connect to his own supply chain business

In Venturing Into The Future: Startup & Vc Dynamics, panelists shared thoughts on raising startup funds, the challenges of disrupting traditional industries, and why they’re excited about Chicago as a destination for founders and entrepreneurs. Landon Campbell, General Manager @ Drive Capital, shared that nearly 80% of Midwestern engineering graduates move to Chicago, so the city has a talent pool ripe for the picking of any new startups and tech companies.

“I’m planning to stay in tech in Chicago after school, so it was especially encouraging to hear from people growing Chicago businesses and investing in Midwest tech companies.” – panel attendee

Velocity as a Virtue

The conference closed with a keynote on Velocity as a Virtue by Eitan Shay, ‘11, CPO @ DarioHealth. Eitan has played pivotal roles across various industries and organizational scales, ranging from startups to hyper-growth companies and publicly traded corporations. In his keynote he highlighted how improving the velocity of product development can be a virtue in helping you get feedback from your users faster.

“Eitan’s has had a really cool career and it was interesting to hear his insights on accelerating product development… It’s all about getting that crucial feedback loop going.” – conference attendee 

“Great closing for the theme of embracing disruption. I’m feeling excited to jump into tech this summer, working quickly and with agility at my internship.” – conference attendee

Eitan Shay

Until Next Year

TechCon 2024 went off without a hitch, thanks to the hard work of the organizing team. They were thrilled with the overwhelming turnout and the positive feedback from speakers and attendees alike. The team hopes all attendees gained valuable insights, had provocative conversations, and left the conference feeling empowered and excited to embrace disruption!