Popular Talks Offer an Afternoon of Business Insights

Management Prof Hopes Monthly Series Gives People a ‘Peek Behind the Curtain’

Aug. 13, 2012

In the wake of Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites became lifelines connecting victims to loved ones abroad, and for others, they provided high-tech channels to raise money for relief efforts.

Soon after, that story – and the technology behind it – became the subject of a popular talk in Dr. Michael Savoie’s then-new monthly speaker series, “An Afternoon With …”.  The free, monthly series brings innovation leaders from business, healthcare, technology, higher education and philanthropy to share their insights with students, faculty, staff and business leaders at the UT Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management.

The speaker series, which began in the spring 2011, is sponsored by the Jindal School’s Center for Information Technology and Management (CITM), of which Savoie is the director. Helping to kick off the series in March 2011 was Anita Foster, chief communications officer of the American Red Cross Dallas chapter. She spoke about technology, philanthropy and the organization’s first mobile fundraising campaign, which set off a scramble among nonprofits to figure out a way to replicate its success.

A “text Haiti” campaign that the Red Cross set up after the 2010 quake raised $32 million in the month following the disaster. More than 3 million people texted “Haiti” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross, demonstrating the unprecedented potential for small text message donations, Savoie said.

“Anita told the audience that they just put this thing together because they needed a fast way to raise money for a country that really had no banking infrastructure.”

Dr. Michael Savoie

“Anita told the audience that they just put this thing together because they needed a fast way to raise money for a country that really had no banking infrastructure. She said, ‘We spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to get people to donate to the Red Cross, and here we are. Let’s just give it a shot and see what happens,’ and they ended up raising $10 million in the first two weeks, and it became one of their biggest fundraising channels ever,’” Savoie said. “So now social media philanthropy is a key part of all Red Cross fundraising efforts.”

Foster’s presentation is the kind of talk that Savoie had in mind when he created “An Afternoon With …”, and her presentation had audience members sitting on the edge of their seats, he said.

A futurist, a former technology executive with the Dallas Cowboys and a healthcare technology leader are just a few of the speakers who have participated so far in the series. Savoie strives to line up compelling speakers who give a “peek behind the curtain.”

“Anita’s presentation on social media philanthropy drew about 100 people, and I literally had to stop and tell everybody to go home because it was just fascinating to listen to her,” Savoie said. “It was interesting to hear about the text Haiti campaign, but it was interesting, too, because most of the people who were there (who were mostly business people) didn’t really understand all of the nuances and details that go into the things that the Red Cross does – the fundraising and how the technology comes into play.”

The stage for “An Afternoon With …” is set up to look personal: a coffee table, two chairs for an hour-long relaxed conversation between the speaker and Savoie. The audience joins in  during the 30-minute Q&A session.

“I never know where the conversation will go, and I think that’s part of what makes it interesting, too.”

Dr. Michael Savoie

 “I enjoy sitting down and visiting with folks, and this format is working really well. I never know where the conversation will go, and I think that’s part of what makes it interesting, too. These are thought leaders in the industry who can take us where they see technology going, but in a relaxed environment. They can give us a behind-the-curtain look and insight into their thought processes. I don’t want a canned talk, and I don’t allow them to bring PowerPoints. They just sit down with me and talk and then we do an audience Q&A,” Savoie said.

“It’s set up to be intimate and personal, and I don’t ever want to lose that,” he said.

In 2011, Savoie hosted six talks, three in the spring and three in the fall. In the spring of 2012, he hosted three: Futurist Jeff Wacker, who spoke about future trends in the workplace; Pete Walsh, former head of technology for the Dallas Cowboys, who talked about technology in sports; and Michael Anderson, co-founder and president of Aragon Research, who spoke about mobility, social networking and the cloud.

All of the programs are held in the Davidson Auditorium in the Jindal School of Management and are webcast.


Media Contact: Jill Glass, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5989, jglass@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Dr. Michael Savoie

Dr. Michael Savoie is the director of the Center for Information Technology and Management at the Naveen Jindal School of Management.

 


 

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