Saturday, 20 June 2015

Highlights of InspireFest 2015

On Thursday and Friday, you read about my experience at Day 1 and Day 2 respectively of InspireFest 2015. Since I was tired, I basically just dumped everything I'd experienced that day indiscriminately onto the page, so here's a wrap-up with some highlights and a little reflection. 


Overall, I'm very glad I took the opportunity to attend InspireFest. I met a lot of really cool people, was on both sides of the interviewing process, heard talks from some really inspiring women (and men), tried new things and assuaged my horrific case of FOMO. 

To give some criticism: I think the emphasis on gender inequality was a bit too strong. It was nice to have lots of female speakers, but as someone who hates the idea of gender quotas and positive discrimination, you get sick of constantly hearing about how oppressed women are. Maybe I'll experience it in the workplace, but I've been fine so far so this was just depressing. I did like the personal testimonies on sexism, like Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell's, I just wasn't the biggest fan of people constantly going on about diversity. It felt like diversity was the overall takeaway from the conference, like Evolve Biomed's was translational research. Also, the food was absolutely unnecessarily fancy and inedible. Broccoli salad was weird but okay, the huge bread was unpalatable and I literally couldn't bear the drink. Don't worry though, Silicon Republic, it's an easy thing to fix - just buy in McDonalds or something basic. Cheaper for you and more people will like it.

(Okay, criticism complete. Back to the good stuff!)

The conference/festival setup was a very good idea. While sadly I couldn't go to the festival part each evening due to being under strict parental orders to get home early, it seems like a really great way to mingle in a more relaxed environment. 

I'll put all the other good stuff in the highlights coming up next. I just want to observe that - in my limited experience (n=2) - leaving conferences is sad and there's this sense of missed opportunity. There were a lot of people there I wanted to say bye to or get a selfie with and didn't get a chance, and events with this many cool people don't happen often (you'd better invite me next year, Silicon Republic, okay? I'll speak about Outbox or whatever, just invite me. One of your editors said I might be coming back as a speaker in 2016 jokingly, and I fully intend to do that).


Meeting Twitter people

I suppose I have to start calling them real people now, since I met lots of people I've been talking to on Twitter for the first time at InspireFest. I met Catrina, Harry and Émer on Thursday, and Christine and Vanessa on Friday. It was cool, but a very weird experience connecting their Twitter handles to their presence right next to me.


Not much to say here, I just love lanyards.

Lessons in Leadership

I just really loved this session. You can read about it here but I want to emphasise how cool the speakers (Bethany Mayer, Margaret Burgraff and Shelly Porges) were. They are, respectively, CEO and President of Ixia, global Vice-President of Intel and the former advisor to Hillary Clinton.

Super inspiring. Bethany and Margaret had great points, and Shelly had some fantastic quotes and stories from Hillary. I'll be mentioning Margaret again later in the post (I'm doing this chronologically, because I'm me).

Interviewed by Silicon Republic

This was a surprise. I was just sitting with Catrina at lunch when Elaine Burke of Silicon Republic DMed me and asked if I wanted to do a video interview for Silicon Republic about my experience of the conference. So I did. As I've said, I'm a bad interviewee but it was fun. 

Catrina time

Hung out with Catrina all of Day 1. Hey girl.

Next Generation Panel

This was my favourite panel at InspireFest. It was cool hearing from Émer and Lauren, but awesome hearing Anne-Marie Imafidon, head Stemette, talk about what we'll be doing at Outbox Incubator. She said Microsoft is lending us laptops, there'll be a room with wall-to-wall trampolines, the house will have a dozen bedrooms, the Salesforce Foundation are paying for all our flights, food and accommodation ... there's also going to be a documentary made about us. Not sure how I feel about that part. 

Very exciting panel. 


I was flattered a lot on Twitter at the conference. I got a mention on the national Twitter, and people I don't know tweeted things about me. It was interesting to see how they view me.

Blog Readers

Strangers came up to me saying they read my blog and recognise me from it. I thought that was just so cool. These people came up to me in person, but for the sake of pictures, here's one on Twitter.

Reaching for the Stars

Adored this session. Read about it in my Day 1 post, but Leo Enright, Susan McKenna Lawlor, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Ariel Waldman and the author of "It's only rocket science" were all awesome. 

And yesterday I got a selfie with Susan McKenna Lawlor! 

Christine time

I Tweeted so many Christine quotes yesterday and I am not one bit sorry.

Google Floor

Christine and I enjoyed trying on Google cardboard and talking to some Google Dublin employees.

Interviewing Harry McCann

Harry is great craic and the interview went well, expect to see the interview post tomorrow. It was nice to meet him after so long.

Other Keynotes I liked

Cindy Gallop is such a good speaker, with great confidence. She RTs my tweets a lot too, which helps. I enjoyed and was impressed by Laura Browne with Powerscout, and the Germinaid and Lauren Boyle talks were cool, though most people know their stories already.

Outbox Incubator Selfie

There were a good few of us Outbox Incubator acceptees at InspireFest, including Catrina, Christine, Émer, Edel, Vanessa, me and organisers including Anne-Marie, Mary and Yann.

Margaret Burgraff

This is more Twitter stuff. So, as I said I enjoyed Margaret's talk and admired her. So it was very cool when she read my blog posts of her own accord and talked to me on Twitter quite a bit, giving me awesome compliments. I'm sure she compliments everyone and is very practised at it, but it was great to hear. Thanks, Margaret.

So yeah ... That was crazy. Crazy awesome. When did I become American and start saying awesome all the time?

Laura and Caoimhe train surprise

Okay, not strictly InspireFest, but it was awesome to bump into Laura and Caoimhe on the train back home. They're from school, so it was a very fitting way to go back down to earth. They're great. They seem to think I have it made, though, which I assure them is untrue. I mean, is there ever an exact threshold where one has it made?

It's been a very good two days. Another big congratulations to Ann O' Dea, the Silicon Republic team and all the partners, sponsors and speakers, and I hope everyone is enjoying the Fringe Festival. 

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