August 20, 2015

Behind the curtain: “Speak Up, Speak Out @ Odecee”

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In this series, Communications Consultant (and technical dunce) Laura takes a look at some of the happenings behind the scenes at Odecee…

Every few weeks in the office I hear it – the unmistakable sound of Odecee team members stealing up the stairs to congregate for what I’ve assumed can only be super top secret spy meetings. Having heard no information to the contrary, it seemed entirely reasonable to conclude this group were coming together to furtively discuss their plans for world domination (not as crazy as it sounds; see spiderbots). And to eat sandwiches – they were definitely eating sandwiches.

It was with great surprise, then, that I recently discovered this series of covert meetings was not so covert after all – in fact, it was one of Odecee’s many learning and development initiatives, widely publicised throughout the company and completely open to anyone. My mistake.

The initiative, I was to learn, is called ‘Speak Up, Speak Out @ Odecee’ – an internal meet-up-style forum for team members to practice their presentation skills in a supportive environment.

To confirm this was definitely not a front for a secret diabolical plot, I took it upon myself to sit in on the most recent ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’ so I could conduct some very serious investigative journalism…

What I found was far from fiendish; in fact, the meet-up was exactly what it had purported to be – friendly, focused and informative.

The session I attended was chaired by Keren Burshtein, who did a great job setting the tone and steering the ship. A warm-up game guided the team through a mock debate, helping them extend their vocabulary of connective phrases in support or opposition of the notion: “Video games should be allowed in the office”. (Tough to call, but I think the ‘ayes’ had it by a whisker).

Cameron Bradley was the first speaker up, delivering a presentation on property investments entitled “Can you time the marketplace?” In a nutshell, his answer was ‘no, you can’t’. I won’t give too much away about Cam’s personal investment record, but I will tell you the guy knows what he’s talking about…

‘Timing’ was a key focus again in the next talk by Tales Tonini; this time the topic was “The single biggest reason start-ups succeed”. Tales ran us through a report from business incubator Idealab, which looked at 100 start-ups to find the factors that determine success. (So, what was the ‘single biggest reason start-ups succeed’? Timing! … I kind of gave that away already, didn’t I?)

The final presentation of the day was from John Cicello. John spoke with great confidence about…his topic. Clearly very knowledgeable about…the topic he chose, he explained his subject and presented some clever thoughts relating to…it. (Okay, okay – I won’t beat around the bush. His topic was poo. I don’t mean it was bad, I mean he literally spoke about poo – specifically, the problem of human sewage disposal and the advantages of various waste recycling methods).

After the three talks, the speakers were offered constructive feedback from the other attendees, who ran through a list of what each had done well and offered suggestions for what they could work on in future.


Tales, Cam, Keren and John. (And our timekeeper Kelvin on the left!)

At the risk of revealing my bias (and thus outing myself as less investigative reporter, more enthusiastic supporter), I’d like to say I genuinely enjoyed my first ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’. What I found particularly impressive was the fact that the whole initiative is completely driven by motivated team members. While there are many meet-ups, brown bags and general hootenannies spearheaded by our leadership team and managers, anyone at Odecee can put their hand up to establish and run their own forum. In the case of ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’, the original idea came from Adam McLeod, who brought it to life with the help of Mark Hume-Cook and Graham Cassidy; since its beginnings, more and more team members have joined the group to help shape the format and the approach. They hold sessions once or twice a month, and anyone from Odecee is welcome to attend, speak or chair.

If today’s speakers were anything to go by, the group is learning incredibly fast. Perhaps they will take over the world after all…

(Also – I was right about the sandwiches).


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