Keynote: Student Experience: Putting students first is the cleverest digital strategy of all - Masterclass: It’s about the culture: creating a culture that can thrive in a digital world

Gerry McGovern, Ireland

Gerry McGovern has spent twenty years understanding and formalizing the components of a successful digital culture. His Top Tasks methods have been used by organizations such as Google, Dropbox, Toyota, GOV.UK, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco. He has spoken and consulted in 35 countries.



Keynote talk
In the last five years, customer experience has become a top management priority. Why? Because customers have become much more powerful, connected, skeptical, and impatient (think mobile). Consequently, they have become less loyal and less trustworthy.

If you’re one of the lucky universities that can pick and choose which students you want to enroll, you don’t need to worry too much about this global trend. But if you’re a university competing for the best and brightest, then Student Experience will be a key differentiator for you.

Student Experience is about making life easier and simpler for students. It’s about giving them facts and being transparent—helping them to complete their top tasks. And it’s about focusing on the current student experience just as much as the potential student experience? Why? Because in an age of fake news and general distrust, students and customers are increasingly looking to the experience of the current customer / student in order to help them make decisions. Because the current student experience is the real experience, and more and more people today truly want to know what’s real.

Transformation masterclass
So, how do Amazon, Google, Facebook and Slack do it? What makes them so successful? Is it because they have amazing technology? Yes, partly. Is it because they have massive resources? Facebook and Google were founded by students, and most successful digital companies rose to prominence taking on much bigger and better resourced competitors.

Culture. Culture was absolutely critical to their success. A culture that was often radically different to the culture of traditional, physical-bound organisations. What is the right culture? And how do you nurture it in your university?

The short answer to what is the right culture is: customer / student obsession. Not potential student obsession. CURRENT student obsession. Digital leaders obsess about creating the best possible experience for their current customers.

Changing culture is a journey. Learn how to transition from an organisation-centric culture to a customer-obsessed one.









Humility: making decisions based on evidence of what your students are doing, not on ego, or the latest whims of senior management. How do you deliver the evidence that truly measures students experience?

Agility: How do you rapidly increase your ability to change based on student feedback? How do you increase the speed of your iterative, continuous improvement model?

Simplicity: How do you relentlessly focus on making it easier for students

McGovern will focus on this three key characteristics of the customer-obsessed organisation:


  • From organization-centric to customer-obsessed
  • From ego-based hierarchy to evidence-based
  • From product culture to service culture


  • From stand-alone projects to rapid, continuous iteration
  • From built to last, to built to change
  • From silos to multidisciplinary, cross-functional collaboration 


  • From addition to subtraction 
  • From making it easy for the organization to making it easy for the customer
  • From fake news to facts and truth