LDSMBA Conference – working with Ben

Today I’m sharing a bit about a conference we’ve been working on for the last nine months and what it was like getting to work on a non-family non-blogging related project with Ben. The LDSMBA conference is a conference geared at members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are current, past, or prospective MBA students. It rotates between a few business schools each year and this happened to be the year that HBS was in charge of hosting. 

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind around here! I feel like we’ve been holding our breath until we got through a few things and this week we finally have some space to breathe (but just for a moment, because in May there are trips + graduation + a move).

A few weeks ago (before our unexpected family tragedy, a funeral, and a blogging conference in Austin), HBS hosted a conference for recently graduated, current, and perspective MBA students who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ben and I, along with a full team of students here on campus, have been working on this conference for months and it was a relief to have it all come together!

It was fun to have a chance to work with Ben on something. We coparent pretty well, we co-housekeep pretty poorly, and we used to work together on this website before he started his MBA (and lost all of his free time). But it is rare these days that we work together on anything official outside of having someone over for dinner. We took on the marketing role for the conference which involved a lot of email marketing, website updates, and ticket sales management.

I liked that it leant itself well to required strategy conversations around something that involved both of us (that wasn’t our children). I’ll listen to him talk about school and he’ll listen to me talk about work, but this was a unique opportunity for us to spend time working on something together.

Sure, there was plenty of frustration (there was a lot more “I know I said I would write that email but I’m sick and exhausted and growing our child so could you draft it please?” than either of us planned on when we committed to this). But, overall, it was a good experience.

I heard the tip recently that if you want to be friends with someone, you should work on projects with them. Ben and I might already be best friends, but sometimes we feel more like co-captains of a sports team that never seem to show up to the same games. My big takeaway, if you get the chance to work on a project with your spouse, do it.

On the day of, I played photographer and loved the chance to get to take pictures of some of the distinguished speakers like Bishop Causse and UnitedHealthcare’s CEO, Steve Nelson (we all need his family’s tips for aging so well).

Highlights for me were listening to the discussion of balancing work + church commitments, a fabulous women’s panel on supporting each other (a few more thoughts below) in fulfilling the measure of your creation, and getting to visit the Harvard Club for our closing social.

Here are a (very) few of the pictures I snapped that day:

^an old friend from BYU happened to be out for the conference and these placards reminded us so much of our Model United Nations days in college that we needed to snap a picture (old MUN post + pictures from years ago here

^gotta love a husband willing to carry my purse 

^snack breaks between speakers

^listening to the women’s panel during lunch. I appreciated the approach of having each spouse focus on helping the other maximize their potential/good/”measure of their creation” (a religious term I’ve heard before but not thought about much in daily context until this panel). As a semi-working mom I liked that they didn’t say “to do the most good, women need to be in the workplace!” or “the best place for a woman is at home with her children.” Instead, they focused on asking the Lord where He would have you be spending your time/effort and then having both partners make sacrifices to support the other. For one couple this meant the husband worked during the day and put aside all hobbies so that once he got home, he could take care of the kids while his wife went to political meetings. For another couple, it meant the children went to daycare and both parents had to take on more home responsibilities in the evenings so the mom could pursue a more demanding career at a foundation for a few years, before stepping back to spend more time with her family. There were lots of different models showcased throughout the day(a working mom and a stay at home dad, two parttime working parents, a full-time mom and a very successful working father), but it was less of “this is the right way” as it was “this worked for us” and “let God in when deciding what is best for you.” 

^snapped right at the end of the day!

^love this girl – her and her husband are both second year students and she gave birth to their first in the middle of finals week last semester (imagine, Harvard Business School with a newborn – I’m tired just thinking about it). 

^For part of the conference we took the attendees to classrooms on campus and did a mock-case with real HBS professors. It was fun to get to snap a few photos in the rooms where Ben spends most of his day

^this guy is 60. We really should have been asking him about skin care in addition to business

^a little mess at check-in 

^Bishop Gerald Causse and his wife, Valerie – I loved listening to his stories of starting work (many years ago) with a young family at the same firm Ben will start at in a few months. 

^another classroom shot 


outfit details: 

Black maternity dress: It is a splurge but has been my favorite maternity purchase this time around. I’ve worn it to this professional conference, to church, to a funeral, and most recently to a brand dinner for work in Austin. Apparently this is the same dress Megan Markle wore after announcing her pregnancy (and sold it out) but it’s back in stock.  (more from Hatch Maternity here)

Shoes: I only survived in these low heels for the first few hours and then switched to these flats for the rest of the day.

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