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Madison hosts national conference on workplace culture

CultureCon founders Zach Blumenfeld and Nick Lombardo taking a selfie with this year’s attendees. Photo by Omar Waheed.

CultureCon came to Madison this week to share stories of change and inspire attendees on how they can positively impact their workplace.

CultureCon, a convention on workplace culture transformation, came to Madison Aug. 16-17. The two-day convention saw leaders from companies share anecdotes about how their respective companies changed. Companies like Reebok, Strava, Blizzard Entertainment, the Harvard Business Review and many others, spoke on a variety of topics, but all were centered on changes in workforce culture.

A few hundred attendees from across the country got the opportunity to hear from a range of people, but the event speakers kicked off with a conversation between Reebok’s Jasmine Bellamy and Strava’s Michele Bousquet. The duo shared their stories of how the companies they work for have changed and probed into how companies treat its employees — especially around bereavement.

The talk, titled “This is Why I Strava – A Cultural Transformation from the Heart,” explored Bousquet’s experience of losing her daughter and being able to transform her grief to learn how to better lead with love.

“People are complex. They’re amazing,” Bousquet said. “I do believe heart forward is the answer.”

Strava takes the opportunity to interview every employee one-on-one around the anniversary of their employment every year. The company, and Bousquet, thinks it is important to understand how employees feel and think they are perceived in the workforce. Strava allows for any level of feedback during the interviews in hopes to make positive, healthy changes to its work environment.

Following the discussion between Bousquet and Bellamy, CultureCon utilized its whole area at the Madison Concourse Hotel for multiple discussions, all centered around culture and workforce transformation.

People were able to get a variety of info tailored to their interests. Some sat in for a talk with Gallup on hybrid work, with Hallmark about purpose driven culture, how to keep advancing DEI in workplaces when leadership is wiped out, building people-first cultures and a slew of other topics across its two days.

Vibas Ratanjee, from Gallup, speaks on hybrid work and its transformation in workplace culture. Photo by Omar Waheed.

One attendee, Nathan Stuck, who runs his own similar event on workplace culture in the Southeast region, was able to see ways to improve his own efforts.

“It’s interesting to have very candid conversations like this, because a lot of culture has become politicized. It has become controversial really,” Stuck said. “It’s kind of cool right now that I feel like I’m not the only one thinking like this when it comes to some of these topics. Not a knock on the last three years of the work we’ve done. It’s kind of ‘what does the next iteration look like?’”

Stuck runs his own company that does consulting for B Corps – corporations that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability. His company, Profitable Purpose Consulting, uses events like CultureCon to better understand trends in workplace culture and how he can better consult with clients.

In addition to the speakers, CultureCon had an “Ask Me Anything” bar for attendees to ask further questions with speakers that were not addressed in their talks. Attendee, Izzy Begej, looks forward to CultureCon each year and the services they offer.

“I have been part of the culture community for several years and it has, it was, the first and still is probably the strongest professional network that I have. And it’s just literally people who care about culture,” Begej said.

CultrueCon wrapped up its two-day conference with an after party on Aug. 17. The convention occurs in Madison once a year and other cities across the country. Madison’s next CultureCon will be held Aug. 28-29 in 2024.