Saturday, April 20

TED conference helps business students implement innovative ideas

Students relaxed in the central cafe in UCLA Anderson School of Management Tuesday and watched the TED conference as it streamed live.

Students relaxed in the central cafe in UCLA Anderson School of Management Tuesday and watched the TED conference as it streamed live.

Stephanie Pritchard

Talks of microbiology, physics and sustainable resources replaced business and finance discussions at the UCLA Anderson School of Management on Tuesday, as a conference by the nonprofit group TED streamed live for the first time in the central cafe.

The annual TED conference, which takes place in Long Beach through Friday, brings together leaders in a vast array of industries to give 18-minute speeches on a topic of their choice and participate in panel discussions.

The live streaming of the conference, which is open to both undergraduate and graduate students, will continue through Friday and will be supplemented by panel discussions on specific TED talks.

While the conference started out focusing on technology, entertainment and design ““ hence the name TED ““ it has since expanded to include the sciences, math, education and business sectors, among others.

Jim Stengel, an Anderson professor who is one of the speakers at TED, helped to begin the collaboration between the conference and Anderson after he suggested to a TED organizer that the conference should be featured as a case study in his class.

From this suggestion, a wide variety of connections between Anderson and TED were implemented, including panel discussions with students, faculty and alumni about the talks, and student group projects designed around converting ideas from TED into more practical applications, said Allison Holmes, assistant dean of Marketing and Communications at Anderson.

One of these collaborations will be an analysis of the TED marketing brand done by student groups in Stengel’s class.

The project will analyze how the TED conference can more efficiently market the “brand” that surrounds their company, said management student Russ Altenburg, who is one of the students participating in the project.

Altenburg is also one of the organizers of a student competition, where teams of students will put together a report on how to best implement ideas discussed during TEDActive, a partner conference to TED.

TEDActive brings together corporate sponsors, like American Express, Shell and TOM’s Shoes, to discuss ideas brought up at the main TED conference and how to best apply them to current world problems.

“Whereas TEDActive is based on ideas, we wanted it to be more about action and suggesting how to actually implement these ideas,” Altenburg said.

Some students spent time on Tuesday morning watching the stream in a newly redecorated section of the Il Tramezzino cafe.

Draped in deep red fabric with scattered white tables and beanbag chairs, the lounge was redesigned for the week to echo the red in the TED logo and to provide a comfortable space for students to view the conference.

Some students said it was important to watch conferences like TED because of its connections to business school.

“The themes of business school (and the conference) are similar,” said management student Fabien Heitz, sitting in the lounge watching the conference stream Tuesday morning. “Business school covers an overarching view of the global markets, and the similarity is in trying to think on multiple levels and make connections between sectors.”

Undergraduate students in attendance, meanwhile, said the conference was also a good way of drawing connections with their classes.

“Students are often very focused on their classes, and it’s good to see the practical applications of the knowledge and the effects this can have on the real world,” said third-year psychology student Dylan Giammalva.

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