When Arcitecta offered me a ticket to attend PauseFest 2020 as part of my internship, it wasn't an offer I was going to refuse. For those who are unfamiliar, PauseFest is the biggest convention for 'innovative thinking' in Australia. Over three days, it is an opportunity to listen, learn and build skills from an impressive schedule of both local and international CEOs, CTOs and other heads of innovation.
When I first stepped into the imposing entrance to the Convention Centre, it was a little bit intimidating, no doubt. I was immediately surrounded by some seriously switched-on people. Every conversation I had (or overheard, scusi!) was about a 'big idea' a team were hoping would change the future, or how their start-up had recently secured funding (in the millions!!) and was now faced with the challenge of scaling operations into overseas markets, whilst preserving their brand identity.
As a student in the early stages of a career, you can forget that these leaders are people too, that they’re friendly and supportive - but of course, they are, they’re human. Very quickly that intimidation turned into inspiration! It felt great having conversations with the innovators of Australia, picking their brains about some seriously hard-hitting social issues and technological innovations. As the conversations got more comfortable, these people were not holding back in sharing their pearls of wisdom, which is something that feels quite unique to the tech community.
In that same sense, it was also interesting to see how open everyone was in looking for solutions, and that they trust young people. Once I explained that I come from a software background and that I was interning at Arcitecta, the conversation even shifted at some points to asking me for my advice!
It wasn’t all just talk, there was a packed schedule of presentation across the three days. The highlight for me? Definitely local Melbourne start-up, PHORIA. The Founder, Trent De Clews-de Castella, covered how the company was utilising VR/AR/MR to create social experiences that connect individuals to interactive 'smart' environments that live and breathe. This was interesting for me as I continue to reconcile why society is still in growing pains with regard to giving the environment a higher priority. Is it simply that we lack empathy or 'connection' to the environment? Maybe it is just too difficult to understand the importance of something until you truly experience the consequences of losing it? An idea like PHORIA, using some cutting-edge technology to drive a real social change by appealing to our fundamental emotions through an utterly unique experience, is simply beautiful and needed.
The rise in VR/AR/MR also highlighted the importance of big data. To map these beautiful virtual landscapes, you need some seriously large amounts of data managed in a similarly intelligent way. As far as this space goes, PHORIA really is the tip of the iceberg as we go into the future and sparks the conversation around the role of big data to drive social change through these kinds of ideas.
The presentation from Kaley Chu was also very cool. Kaley is a young female entrepreneur who, in 2018, set out to have 100 lunches with strangers – and succeeded. Stepping out of her comfort zone and seeing strangers as opportunities to learn has transformed her life, which conveyed some life-changing insights and philosophies to consider in my own growth.
All together PauseFest was a really transformational couple of days. Looking forward to next year!
If you are interested in attending PauseFest 2021 with Arcitecta or becoming an intern, sign up to our newsletter to receive updates straight to your mailbox.