Feature Story

Simmons Leadership Conference goes online with Cisco Webex

by Sophia Lin

Person watching live stream

Simmons University turned to long time sponsor Cisco to power its first virtual conference.

When COVID-19 started to impact many around the world, Simmons University had to start considering an all-virtual plan for the annual Simmons Leadership Conference. As a board member of the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership, Cisco Vice President of APJC CX Centers Dev Malladi knew the perfect solution to make the plan a reality – with Cisco technology.

For Dev, “The Simmons and Cisco partnership is based on a shared goal: an inclusive future for all. So, when Simmons Conference needed to go virtual, our team was the natural bridge between the inspiration the conference delivers, and the possibility of beaming directly to attendees. It brings together all things I love and care about."  

See also: Cultivating culture and collaboration with video conferencing 

In less than five weeks, Cisco teams from Customer Experience (CX), Collaboration, and Sales came together to lead the charge in architecting a best-in class solution that leveraged Webex and vBrick Rev for an interactive (complete with Polling and Moderated Q&A) live-streaming experience. That was coupled with a Webex Teams "Connection Center," where conference attendees could network live with speakers, sponsors, and fellow attendees. To ensure the conference went off without a hitch, the team worked tirelessly beforehand to test the technology and coach speakers on setting up their Cisco DX80s and broadcast tips. 

With about 3,200 virtual attendees participating through the whole broadcast, the day was full of wisdom, inspiration and advice from women leaders defining their power in a whole new light. One attendee, felt even closer to the presenters with the virtual format and the intimacy of everyone being at home. They had time to take notes during sessions and keep connected with others through Webex Teams. Some attendees mentioned they loved being able to share the conference experience with their families and the inspiration of “defining power.”

See also: Power is influence, and we're all influencers 

For Cisco Cloud Collaboration Senior Manager Jennifer Martin, this has truly been a cross-company effort unlike anything she’s seen in her 10 years at Cisco. 

“As leaders in their respective industries, Cisco and Simmons were each able to focus on what they do best - Cisco creating the bridge between hope and possible through their world-class technology and Simmons bringing together thought leaders on issues relevant to experiences and concerns of women in the workplace and the world. 'Produced by Simmons, Powered by Cisco' - we did what we do best to enable Simmons to do what they do best."

As a proud sponsor of the conference for the past eleven years, Cisco regularly sends employees and speakers to the conference, but the team was glad to step up in a bigger way. This year with Cisco technology playing a role, University Institute for Inclusive Leadership CEO Susan Brady talked about the partnership. 

“The Simmons Leadership Conference embodies the very best of our university’s mission to educate the next generation of leaders,” Brady said. “It is so gratifying to work with a partner that understands the magnitude of the goals we share and generously puts the necessary talent and resources to the task.”

See also: Navigating the 'new normal' with virtual connectivity   

What does this mean for the future of virtual events? The sky’s the limit. From Simmons to Cisco, every organization is reimagining what it means to convene a group. For Cisco, this starts with Cisco Live 2020, which will be virtual for the first time.  

For more information about the Simmons Leadership Conference, please visit: https://leadership.simmons.edu/institute/

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