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Having recently joined Studio 24 I was excited to join my fellow Project Managers on a trip to Manchester for Camp Digital 2023. As a newbie to the conference, I was looking forward to joining digital, design and UX communities to explore the latest in the industry from some great speakers.

Manchester Bound

The team travelling to the conference was made up of the project management team including myself, Claire and Francesco. Having settled in our rooms at the hotel after an afternoon of travelling, we were ready to see what Manchester could offer in its great food scene.

Claire, Fiona and Fran at a table with their dinner in front of them. A sign in the window behind them reads Indian Tiffin Room.


With our conference passes collected and after some careful planning around the conference schedule (we are project managers of course), we headed into the conference ready for a day of inspirational seminars.

All of the talks on the day were great and all of the speakers were absolutely amazing! Here are a few of the talks that the team enjoyed.

Digital transformation in context: you’re part of something – but what is it?

The first talk to start the day came from James Plunkett. James is the author of ‘End State: 9 ways society is broken – and how we can fix it’. James began by discussing the idea of not looking for new technologies but looking at how we work with existing technology.

Using Ford car manufacturing and the assembly line as a great example of this, James touched on how they reorganised their current way of working and instead of doing something completely new, they created a new system from what they already had – getting the audience thinking of how technology isn’t a star in the story but it is, in fact, the way we use people.

James finished his talk on the subject of bread and the manufacturing of bread in particular. He discussed how bread is a food staple in most homes but to mass produce bread in the assembly line was difficult – the bread would end up soggy or burnt for example. What then happened is that we changed the bread to fit the machine rather than changing the machine to fit the bread, in the end leaving us with the square loaf which we have all come to know and love.

James then went on to ask, are we the bread? Are we changing what we do to fit the technology? Pointing out that we are changing to fit the machine and in the end losing the human. It was great that James brought this idea back to us within the room and how working within the digital industry, we have a profound responsibility in the work that we engage in and a big responsibility that comes with what we do.

Finally summarising that we need to keep in mind that it’s not about technology, it’s about the practices, it’s not about digital, it’s about transformation. Let’s remember that we’re human and not bread.

James Plunkett stands at a lectern. The screen behind him has two words on it: technology, people. The word technology has a strike through. .

Lightning talks

The afternoon started off on a high with lightning talks (a first for Camp Digital) brought to us by Sharon O’Dea co-founder of 300 seconds and Annette Joseph founder of Diverse & Equal (D&E).

Sharon started by discussing communication and how public speaking enables you to convey your vision, own your ideas, build credibility for your ideas and drive change from this.

Annette then brought some great thoughts around bridging the gap and breaking the cycle when it comes to public speaking. Discussing how we always hear from the same people and as a result of this, not creating opportunities for others.

Fears around public speaking is a fear we can all have at times (myself included) but we need to open doors for others to have the opportunity to grow their confidence, convey their vision and see diversity across the public speaking forum.

There was a real range of stories and ideas from some really great speakers, from a poem written by AI to imposter syndrome, embracing transferable skills, reflections of a delivery manager’s journey, being human in a user-centred design team, integrating user research skills for patient-centred solutions and minimum viable user-centred design. I do hope that I get the opportunity to hear from these speakers again in the future.

Sharon O'Dea and Annette Joseph stand in front of the audience. The screen behind them reads practice makes perfect. The perfect is crossed out and replaced with better, so it reads practice makes better.

Visualizing Connections

We finished the day with a great final talk from Nadieh Bremer. Nadieh is a data visualisation artist and co-writer of ‘Data Sketches’. Nadieh discussed the importance of connections and how connections are all around us; connections between people, cultures and more.

But how do we visualise all of these possible connections in a world full of data? Nadieh took us on a journey through past projects and the process of breaking down such large amounts of data to be visualised in a way for the user to explore.

From a family tree looking back at 1,000 years of connections in Royal families, visualising this as ‘Royal Constellations‘, to ‘Why do cats & dogs …?‘ where you can view the most popular questions asked on Google that start with “why does/are/is my/a cat(s)/dog(s)”. Nadieh took us through the creative process for each of these projects and the different ways in which we can approach data to visualise these connections.

The lights are down so the images on the screen stand out. There are 9 images of data visualisation that look like constellations.

Wrap up (bread pun not intended)

Camp Digital was one of my first conferences and upon reflection, whilst heading home we all felt that we took away some real insight which we can use across our day-to-day working life. Alongside such a great experience at the conference, having the opportunity to get to know the team in such an exciting city was a real cherry on top!