Feeling my purpose during Avanade’s annual Fuel Conference
- Posted on August 21, 2023
- Estimated reading time 2 minutes
When I first heard about Avanade’s Fuel Conference, it sounded like an event for an energy company – what are we fueling? Turns out, we’re fueling young minds.
How can I describe the week that was the Fuel conference? Inspirational, challenging, engaging, steeped in knowledge, growth mindset, inclusion, diversity, learning and innovation. I can honestly say I was completely awe-struck by the whole event.
Our annual FUEL: Innovation, Technology and Leadership Conference is the highlight in our corporate Citizenship calendar. The first conference was held in 2019 with 150 Cal Poly Pomona University students. This year marked our fifth conference; a lot has changed in five years. But before we get into what an incredible event it was this year, I have to point out that for the team putting it on, Fuel is top of mind for much longer than a week. Planning in earnest begins six months in advance, and as this was my first year contributing, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
This year, the conference truly went global. We ran the agenda three times over different time zones covering 23 countries, beginning in Seattle and following the sun across the world. That means that the conference was running 24 hours a day. We had over 700 registered participants – more than double our 2022 attendance – that ranged from high schoolers to college students to interns to young professionals. We had 140 internal and external speakers, and an additional 90 Avanade employees volunteering their time as mentors or support. The scale of what we were doing made my head spin.
One of the key objectives of the conference is to empower the participants to do what matters in a digital future, using Avanade’s work and talent as an example of what that looks like. We explored what’s possible through a mix of relevant topics including AI, sustainability, inclusion and diversity, personal development workshops, and loads of networking opportunities! One of the most inspiring parts of the week is our hackathon, and participants could choose between two themes: Path to Net-Zero and AI-First World.
All the presentations that I watched were inspiring, but one that will stick with me was from the Path to Net-Zero. The group suggested we could improve the diet of people in an office by setting up a greenhouse in the office area. The greenhouse would grow vegetables and salad ingredients that people could pick when they wanted, reducing the amount of food purchased and brought into the kitchen area and ultimately reducing the food miles and food wastage. I thought this was genius!
I started my career in the early 1980s, working with Anita Roddick at The Body Shop. She was a pioneer in operating her business ethically and also looking at the social and environmental impact of the company’s actions. These strong moral business ethics have stayed with me throughout my career, so when the opportunity came last year to join Avanade as the marketing and communication lead supporting our Responsible Business efforts, I felt like I was returning to my roots. I can honestly say Avanade is a people-first organization that really lives the values it espouses – to make a genuine human impact. And I am so proud to be part of the team.
Bring on Fuel 2024!