ASU IT professionals to 'SOAR' into the future at Empower 2021


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Arizona State University IT professionals and academic faculty are invited to come together for the fourth annual Empower conference. 

Taking place virtually from May 13–14, this is the premiere event for ASU's IT professional community to design, ideate and partner with their peers. Attendees include data scientists, learning designers, professors, support staff, human resources personnel and more.

ASU President Michael Crow will kick off the two-day community event with a talk about the present and future of ASU. Following his keynote address, Crow will engage in a Q&A discussion, with questions sourced directly from ASU’s IT community.

Empower invites all registered participants to submit a question for consideration. 

Day 1 will continue with fellow ASU community members sharing how their ideas and projects align with one of the five Empower 2020 projects: "Empowering Student and Employee Growth and Change," "Collaboration Across the University," "Public Dashboards," "Hybrid Virtual Working and Improved Work-life Balance" and "Sustainable Technological Practices."

Over the course of three, 30-minute rounds, participants will be invited to join a range of session topics, including “techie” discussions around ASU and global trends and challenges, as well as the culture work being done across the university.

Empower logo

Check out a sampling of the 16 sessions across the three rounds on day one:

Round 1:  

  • “Mindfulness and Ambition: Can They Coexist?” with Teri Pipe, ASU chief well-being officer, and Nika Gueci, executive director of the ASU Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience.

Round 2:

  • “Humanize and Personalize Email Communication Through Video” with Edward Garcia, director of law information technology at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.

  • “Empowered to Stay” with Cary Lopez, director of strategic initiatives at the University Design Institute, and Abby Baker, program manager at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Round 3:

  • “No One Sits by Silently: Driving the Future of Teams” with Lindy Elkins-Tanton, vice president and professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

  • “Creating a Smart Fleet for ASU” with Bobby Gray, director of digital transformation at the University Technology Office.

Participants will actively collaborate with these headliners on their ideas and projects using the SOAR analysis as the guiding framework. Similar to the traditional SWOT analysis, a SOAR analysis takes a more appreciative approach by highlighting the strengths and opportunities as well as aspirations and results of a particular activity. As such, the SOAR framework allows for an analysis of present and future initiatives while also incorporating both internal projects within the university and external partnerships with regional and global organizations. 

Day 2 will open with a keynote from Jacqueline Stavros, originator of the SOAR framework and professor in the College of Business and Information Technology at Lawrence Technological University. Stavros will discuss the ways in which this appreciative inquiry model is perfectly poised for designing the future of the New American University. 

Participants will then spend the bulk of their time in Open Space gatherings where fluid, dynamic groups will form their own agendas exploring issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging through a technological innovation lens.

“Both days of Empower are loaded with opportunities to take responsibility for what lights you up," said Christine Whitney Sanchez, chief culture officer for the University Technology Office. "Through the power of self-organization, you are invited to learn and contribute to fostering an enabling, catalyzing culture within the ASU-wide IT community. Coming out of Empower, your ideas and action commitments will lay the foundation for ongoing collaborative tech innovation at ASU.” 

An attendee at last year's Empower event said: “This is the best, most engaging conference I attend every year.”

“I liked seeing how the concept of motivating stories can move people into action,” one participant said.

Another said, “I enjoyed the open environment and sharing of ideas. Every voice is important to build our future.”

Register now and join the conversation in the #asu-it-community Slack channel or on major social media platforms using #ASUEmpower. 

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