Speaker’s Corner: Featuring Tadeh Hakopian, Program Manager at Energy Vault

Tell me about your company – it’s work and projects… 

I work for Energy Vault Inc. and we create long term energy storage solutions for renewable grid infrastructure. Basically we make big batteries that are environmentally friendly. Our product line up includes Gravity Energy Storage Systems (GESS) that uses an innovative system of heavy mass and potential energy to store power. Check out more here https://www.energyvault.com/evx

The IT industry is vast, what are the challenges that most affect your business? 

IT is a common thread in many of our business operations. We are remote-hybrid company so we have to make sure our technology backbone works for everyone and is an asset to our services.

The current kinds of issues we are looking at:

  • Security and Protection of our assets
  • Connecting disparate services together into a cohesive system
  • Creating our own software solutions for internal operations and products
  • Working with outside parties to provide the information they need in a secure manner 

The COVID-19 and the pandemic has mandated change in the way we go about business and operations. How has this time influenced you? What are the trends you see within the sector? 

Clearly we see a need to be more flexible and resilient than we used to be. Things can change fast and you have to be able to respond with different plans and outcomes on the fly.

The key trends are being able to communicate in real time whether in person or virtual calls while still getting a message across to the attendees. That requires different styles of delivery so more planning is required. Plus we all need better AV gear when it comes to remote talks and calls so everyone should be prepared with a nice AV setup at home for virtual calls and work. 

What is your biggest objective as a speaker?

Communicate, Provide Value to the Attendees, and have some fun. If you are not having fun and enjoying being a speaker at a session then you are doing something wrong!

It is your chance to be the center of attention for a group of people who wanted to learn more about your ideas so it is a great opportunity to bring everyone into a fun learning environment. Fun and community is the difference between a speaker event and Monday morning work 😊.

Could you share with us the points of discussion (the input that you provided) during the panel(s) at the DeveloperWeek 2022 Event? 

My key talking points were inclusion and communication. Often in fast paced tech driven environments we take a lot of things for granted and we sometimes need to reflect on how we work together.

My key message was to use visuals in teaching and communication in your team. Not everyone might be comfortable with jargon and technical acronyms but anyone can see a picture and understand what it represents very quickly. In my talk we reviewed key concepts of visual graphics for facilitate communication and learning at any organization which I am (of course) a big advocate of. 

As a leader, what are the factors both professional and personal that drive you? What keeps you going? 

There are three factors that drive my leadership style:

  • Improvement – How can we always make improvements to what we are doing so we bring more value to our process and focus on delivery great results?
  • Communication – Facilitate communication by being transparent and using whatever means we have, verbal, graphic, written, to better understand each other.
  • Trust – Building trusts builds relationships which make great teams and allows everyone to bring their honest opinions to the table when working together. 

In your opinion, do digital events give you a similar level of feedback/result vis-à-vis the live versions? What would you say were the biggest pros and cons of both formats? Which do you prefer?

Digital Events offer their own dynamic compared to live events.

For digital events you will not get the same granularity of communication and personal exchange as an live conference but you can get access to many of the things going on at once. It is so much easier navigating a virtual event and you can do it leisurely without rushing.

Live events require you to pick and choose where you can physically be at one time so there’s always something you will miss. However that is made up by having in depth discussions with people, serendipitous talks and conveniently having group talks by simply walking towards people.

For events that are meant for specialists I would prefer to be live with in person communication which really makes for fun talks, hanging out and getting energized by all the attendees. It is always great to also get the virtual option so that I can see what is happening at an event if I can’t be there myself. 

What is your take on in-person events? Do you prefer in-person events as compared to hybrid or virtual? How soon do you think in-person events would return? 

Hybrid-Virtual is always a great option for those who want to see what is going on at an event but can’t attend. It is always useful to have a window into the event through streaming video or virtual networking. Virtual works great for big conferences where you can be in person and not get through everything anyway. Virtual settings makes it easy to have an oversight of activity and dial into what you are interested in.

However for specialized events with a narrow scope it is my preference to be in-person and meet attendees. In-person communication and networking can’t be beat especially when the event is for specialists and we all likely have a lot in common already. 

In your opinion, what are the top 3 challenges to returning to ‘In-Person’ events? How could we mitigate risks? 

Here are my top 3 Challenges:

  • COVID testing and travel restrictions
  • Cost to attend including registration and travel expenses
  • Communication about the event and the value to attendees

If the event organizer can provide insights into the COVID restrictions then that would help people clear the way to attend.

Some events may be expensive to attend so grants and reduced fees for attendees would be a great incentive to visit.

And Communication in general is always a challenge. Many events try to be everything to everyone but the kernel of the event’s goals needs to be put out in front so people are aware of the key themes and value compared to similar events they are interested in. 

Eventible has recently launched a B2B Interactive in Person Event Tracker, tell us what you think? Do you think this is useful? 

Having a tracker with a live map and interactive elements is great. Usually event listing sites are registries with little context outside of text fields about the events. With this tracker I can see where the event is, what it is for, and a link to the event site.

Eventibe’s tracker definitely has a lot of potential and I can see myself using it for future event planning. More visuals and analytics are always welcomed. 

Eventible.com is a review platform specially catering to B2B events. Given how review-driven our lives have become today, do you think reviews will bring in a level of transparency to the events industry? Would you rely on event reviews from other speakers if you had to make a speaking decision?

A well-regulated review process would be beneficial. After all, conferences can take time and money out of someone’s life and they want to make sure that the event is worth attending. Right now we only have word of mouth and buzz marketing to get an idea of which events are worth attending. With a review site with vetted reviewers who attended events providing feedback we can all benefit from a well thought out reflection of what the event was like and if it is worth attending. Reviews can benefit the speakers, attendees and organizers by providing a common ground to see the pros and cons of an event that are often a mystery. So a transparent review process would encourage me to help decide where to go and which organizers I want to work with so hats off to Eventible for providing such platform. 

Finally, do you have a favourite mocktail or drink? We’d be delighted to know.

 I’m open to just about anything! Though a Moscow Mule or Arnold Palmer would be a good start.

About Tadeh: With a background in Architecture and Development Tadeh has supported building large scale projects with diverse teams for over 10 years. By promoting open dialogue, systems thinking, and long term planning he has improved operational efficiencies in all his endeavors. He is a course author, trainer, and open source contributor as well as a speaker at national conferences in technology, architecture, design. He loves to talk about the new possibilities with technology and innovation at everyone’s disposal while building communities along the way.

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