For many years, in-house designers have been a key component of the HOW Design Live audience. In years past, in-housers were creative outliers in a world of suits — but the in-house design game is changing, and fast.
These days, in-house creative teams are growing, taking on more important projects and gaining visibility (and credibility) in their companies. That means it’s more critical than ever for in-house designers to have more than just killer Photoshop capabilities — they need to understand the language of business, be problem-solvers and articulate their own value.
The 2015 HOW Design Live In-House Management Program is designed to teach those essential business skills. It addresses the in-house designer’s most pressing challenges — right now.
We recently asked the In-House Management Program Directors, Ed Roberts and Andy Brenits, about how they approached creating the 2015 lineup of speakers and sessions.
Ed, a born-and-bred Southerner and veteran in-house design manager who’s led “amazing in-house teams comprised of creative and strategic superheroes,” is also a board member for InSource, the network for in-house creative leaders. Andy describes himself as “passionate about the creative process and how it can be used to drive strategic business goals.” He’s the creative director at Arizona Public Service, and also the president of InSource. The two are first-time co-program chairs for HOW Design Live’s In-House Management program.
Andy, tell us a little about how the two of you approached planning the program for 2015. What topics or issues did you know you had to address for in-house managers?
We planned the program with two things in mind: 1) how can we provide attendees with useful and inspiring practical knowledge and tools that they can use back at the office, and 2) what would make it a great program that we would want to attend ourselves?
In-house teams are growing, either in size or responsibility. We knew that we needed to help in-house creatives see great examples of how other teams are managing their businesses. Some issues we see affecting in-house teams that we really wanted to included in the program this year include working with outside agencies, career-development opportunities, being better at selling ideas — and, of course, showcasing great agency-level design work completed in-house.
Ed, how do you think the 2015 program is different from past years? How has the event grown or evolved, in your view?
I attended my first HOW Design Live In-house Management Conference four years ago in Chicago. My goal then was to absorb everything I could that would assist me in developing and elevating the credibility of my in-house team. The tools I left with enabled me to maximize the management of all aspects of strategic and creative services. Prior to attending the conference, I’d been offered a seat at the corporate table — when I returned, I felt more comfortable occupying that seat and executing new strategies learned from conference speakers that would make my team indispensable. This is one aspect of the attendee’s experience that has not changed in the development of the 2015 HOW Design Live In-house Management Program.
What people will notice that is most different about the 2015 program is the huge number of ridiculously talented, knowledgeable and new speakers we’ve tapped to present. Seriously. The speakers we’ve assembled are working way ahead of the industry curve — it’s truly mind-boggling. Attendees may want to bring an extra suitcase, not for swag, but rather for all those new tools they’ll be acquiring — I’m just sayin’.
Andy, you’ve been involved in advocating for in-house design for several years. What’s the state of in-house design these days? What are the current challenges and opportunities?
In house in growing. We’re being asked to do more work that was once handled outside of the creative services team or even by outside agencies. Our teams are growing as fast as our accountabilities are. It’s no longer a matter of trying to get a seat at the table — we’re there. And it’s more than just about design; it’s video, copywriting, photography, all aspects of creative work once sent out to agencies is now being brought in-house. Creative teams are either doing the work, or directly managing what goes out to the agencies and those relationships. These resourcing decisions were once handled outside of the creative team, but are being rolled into the creative teams more and more and we’re held accountable to those decisions now.
It seems like the program has a strong combination of personal-development type sessions and business-focused or case study sessions. So Ed, why was it important for you guys to address the personal development side?
As companies are rapidly bringing more strategic and high-stakes creative development in-house (and away from outside agencies), there is a great opportunity for corporate creatives to shine like never before. As an in-house manager, our job is to ensure that each and every person contributing to our team has the resources to produce top-tier work. As a program planning partner, it was vitally important to select speakers who would provide practical, innovative and inspiring examples that showcase the benefits resulting from personal and professional development.
What are you both most looking forward to at the 2015 HOW Design Live event next May in Chicago?
Ed: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with all the 2015 HOW Design Live program planning partners. I’m now looking forward to experiencing the conference with all the attendees and chatting about what we’ve learned between sessions. I’m most looking forward to forming some long-lasting friendships from those conversations too. That’s one of the very real benefits of attending HOW Design Live.
Andy: I’m looking forward to seeing old colleagues, talking shop with other creatives — and watching conference attendees get inspired by all of the sessions and networking opportunities you can only get at HOW Design Live.
Preview the In-House Management Program at HOW Design Live 2015, and begin making plans (and budgets) to attend this career- and work-enhancing event with your team next year. Purchase a Big Ticket by November 4 to save $500 off the full onsite registration cost. Thinking of bringing a group from your in-house team? Check out the HOW Design Live Group Rates.