More than five hundred business professionals, students and alumni of the BYU Marriott School of Business crowded the ballroom of the Provo Marriott Hotel on 4–5 October. They came from all over the country to learn from business strategy experts like Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and Domo CEO Josh James at the first-ever BYU Strategy Professionals Conference.
During the conference, BYU Marriott honored Christensen with the first Distinguished Alumni Award in Strategic Management at Thursday evening’s conference dinner. On Friday, Christensen and James headlined the conference’s plenary sessions. In his comments, Christensen explained several concepts that form the backbone of his upcoming book, The Prosperity Paradox, namely, how some impoverished nations, such as South Korea, can turn into economic juggernauts, while others, such as the Philippines, largely remain in poverty.
“Innovations that make products affordable and accessible so that larger populations of people are able to have access to them are innovations that we call 'disruption',” says Christensen. He categorizes these innovations as “market-creating innovations” because they generate thousands of jobs and stimulate economic growth.
“I appreciated Christensen’s words about market-creating innovations,” says conference attendee Bryan Heslop, business development manager at Endigit. “Those types of innovations feel like you’re helping the world more rather than just making your company more dollars. You can make more money and help a lot of people at the same time, and that’s what we’re interested in doing.”
Attendees also learned from executives at companies such as Vivint, Bain & Company, Cicero Group, Ivanti, and Traeger Grills, as well as BYU Marriott strategy professors Jeff Dyer and David Bryce. Speakers in every session emphasized practical application of the concepts they outlined, something that most attendees found particularly helpful and refreshing.
“We go to a lot of conferences, and this was among the most valuable because people actually talked about how to solve strategic problems, and the speakers were interesting, not self-serving,” says conference attendee Alex Erickson, strategy and business development manager at Adobe.
The engaging sessions did not happen by accident. Dyer and his team carefully planned the conference so that it would provide rich value to attendees beyond just one or two headline speakers.
“The goal is to have a conference that is so good that people don’t come just for one big-name speaker,” Dyer says. “We want every speaker to provide thought-provoking and cutting edge ideas.” Moreover, Dyer said he aims to ensure future conferences also feature influential speakers from a wide variety of important companies.
This inaugural Strategy Professionals Conference comes nearly a decade after the creation of a strategic management major and strategy minor at BYU Marriott. “With the program now in place for almost ten years, we decided it was time to try and bring that community back, to give us a chance to come together, to network and learn from each other,” said Dyer.
Once word spread about the conference, demand grew so high that Dyer actually had to turn away some registrants. Alumni and business professionals from all over the country attended the event, some from as far as New York and Chicago. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response of attendees, Dyer and his team look forward to 2020, when they hope to improve upon this year’s success.
“This year’s Strategy Professionals Conference has been a next step toward building our community and brand in strategy, and we’re excited to keep moving forward,” he says.
Writer: Carson Perry