Performance Planner, Deborah Batchelor was lucky enough to attend last week’s Young Progress Makers talk. Here are her key takeaways:

The event was filled with many motivational speakers and left me feeling not only inspired, but also proud to be young and living in London.

The first speaker was Humza Arshad, a comedian, famous for his YouTube channel. He spoke about the power of the personal brand and how vital it is to know yourself and what you stand for. His talk resonated well with the PHD company values as he told us to be consistent, love what you do and to be original. As someone who gained recognition through YouTube, he made a bold claim that “online is the new TV”, and perhaps this is something that generation Z would agree with. It seems power lies more and more with the famous YouTube vloggers; brands should be placing heavier investment in vlogger outreach and non-traditional mediums, as opposed to the standard TV spot and sponsorship, in order to reach a younger audience.

The next few talks focused on technology and progress. We were asked to think about how we can to use technology for good. Baroness Shields affirmed that whilst the “world’s digital natives are now in charge” and developing technology with ease, we still need to think about preserving the openness of the internet and warding off those who seek to hurt it. Alex Klein from Kano referred to the need to “democratise and demystify” tech so we can understand how the devices we use are built and keep up with the constant changes in our evolving world. Lily Cole then joined the debate and proposed that it is not just criminal use of the Internet that we should be wary of; we also need to think about how businesses and governments use the Internet against us. Her perspective was challenging as in the Media industry, gaining data on consumers is such a necessary part of our jobs. However, from this debate, it became clear that the general consensus is that people still despise companies collecting data on their online activity and that this is still a contentious issue for the general public.

It wouldn’t be a conference on progress without the mention of artificial intelligence. One interesting thought was that whilst AI would easily replace some jobs, we might end up paying more for the simple notion of human interaction and personalisation. Therefore, whilst a robot could easily do a desk job, we could end up valuing talking to real people more than we do today and this could be where new jobs arise. Demis Hassabis, the founder of Deep Mind (AI company), gave an impassioned speech about AI solving some of the world’s toughest problems. He believes our missions is to use AI to solve intelligence by building a general purpose learning machine, much like the human brain, and then we an use it to solve everything else. He also declared that AI would have a positive impact on healthcare, if we were able to have AI assisted science or indeed AI scientists. Overall, Hassabis was, naturally, a huge advocate for artificial intelligence and gave a convincing argument about the greater quality of life that developments within AI will bring.

Following on from technology, the closing theme was that of London. Sadiq Khan spoke enthusiastically to the crowd about the influence of London and how badly we need to unlock the potential of young people. He informed us that 2 in 5 Londoners are under 50, and thus young people in London have incredible power that should be nurtured and encouraged. As someone who has only recently moved to London to pursue a career in Media and only recently turned 23, Khan’s talk about the young harnessing the power of London and its abundance of opportunities really resonated with me.

The Young Progress Makers conference was a truly engaging event, which I am really grateful to have been able to attend and will take many key learnings about personal branding, technology and even London into my work at PHD.