Marshall Innovation Coast Conference aims to connect students, professionals

To David Florence, director of consulting firm Stanton Chase International and chairman of the USC Marshall Center for Global Innovation, there is no better place to hold a conference exploring the depths of innovation than in Southern California.

Chief Digital Officer and Executive Vice President of Warner Bros. Entertainment Thomas Gewecke emphasised his company’s close relationship to USC and its alumni. Photo courtesy of Aimee Galicia Torres

The Center for Global Innovation held its third annual Innovation Coast Conference on Friday at the Doubletree hotel in Culver City.

“The beaches, the mountains, the quality of life and the schools [here] are phenomenal,” Florence said. “All of this is part of my vision for making Los Angeles the hub of innovation of the globe.”

This vision was created by Marshall School of Business professor Gerard Tellis, director of the Marshall Center for Global Innovation, who launched this conference three years ago.

In attendance were innovators and entrepreneurs in business, technology, science and entertainment. It aimed to connect students and professionals in a full-day, interactive network.

The day started off with a breakfast buffet and introductions from Florence, as well as a presentation on the growing need for and importance of innovation. The panels then kicked off promptly at 9 a.m., and broke into four different tracks: “Heart and Money,” “Corporate Innovation,” “Joining to Innovate” and “Science Fiction or Reality?”

As part of the “Joining to Innovate” track, the “Upstarts – Millennial Innovators” panel featured seven entrepreneurs and businessmen. The audience asked questions on what employers can do to adjust to millennial demands, as well as how to bridge a growing generational gap. Marshall alumnus Dillon Morgan, who is the founder and CEO of Unum, offered advice to older employers at the panel.

“Because millennials can probably navigate the digital landscape better than most people, if something kind of feels like an obstacle … sometimes they think they can do things faster,” Morgan said.

Other panels that morning ranged from “The Entertainment Disruptors,” which featured TiVo CEO Enrique Rodriguez, to “Fung Shui – Workplace Innovation,” which focused on improving workplaces to foster creativity and productivity.

Lunch was served before Chief Digital Officer and Executive Vice President of Warner Bros. Entertainment Thomas Gewecke gave the event’s keynote address. In his speech, Gewecke emphasized the close relationship that Warner Bros. has had with USC and its alumni.

This was followed by several other panels, including ones focused on topics like Blockchain, crowdfunding and health and wellness through innovation.

“It’s important for [students] to realize that the path to wealth and success is innovation,” Tellis said. “You can’t just say ‘I’m going to be an employee.’ Things are moving so fast that you have to be innovative and you not only have to react to the changes, but you have to be the creator of change.”