Maria Russell, Jim Weiss, Gary Grates, Lauryn Botterman, Janine Borges, Amanada Dominguez, Meriel McCaffrey at SXSW

#W2OatSXSW 2017 Reflections from our Syracuse Center for Social Commerce Student Ambassadors

Written by Center for Social Commerce

Published on March 15, 2017

Each year, W2O Group hosts thought leadership events leading up to the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, TX. Our handpicked Center for Social Commerce Student Ambassadors are given the opportunity to attend these events, where they are added into the thick of things the first day, assisting with live social media efforts. Our 2017 Student Ambassadors, Janine Bogris and Amanda Dominguez, both juniors at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, have shared takeaways from their SXSW experience below. The W2O Group team looks forward to Janine and Amanda joining us as interns in our NYC office this summer.

A special thank you on behalf of the Ambassadors and the Center for Social Commerce team for the generosity of Jim and Audra Weiss and W2O Group for sustaining their commitment to an invaluable program that bridges the gap between the classroom and the industry. The annual trip to SXSW is an incredible way for students to gain exposure to leading industry ideas and meet with executives who are shaping the future.


 Janine Bogris

I was so excited when I learned I was selected as a 2017 Student Ambassador for the Center for Social Commerce. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off my Ambassadorship than with a trip to W2O Group’s SXSW events in Austin, TX. I worked in collaboration with my co-Ambassador Amanda and intern Brittany Pearson to coordinate behind-the-scenes social media at the events via several platforms, including Snapchat, Periscope, Twitter and Instagram.

We began our adventure in Austin at the PreCommerce Summit, which featured a full day of speakers from various industries. One speaker who stood out to me was Mary Ellen Dugan of WP Engine. She spoke about diversity, specifically at the C-Suite level. Dugan concluded her speech with a powerful idea: “I hope in five years diversity is no longer on the agenda to talk about, it is just something we have.”

The Movers & Shapers event also featured an incredible lineup of speakers. One of the highlights for me was Dr. Jessica Mega, Chief Medical Officer at Verily, who spoke about how technological innovations continue to improve the healthcare field. We now live in a world where glucose-sensing contact lenses allow diabetic patients and their healthcare providers to obtain accurate blood sugar data in real-time.

During our backstage interviews, one speaker suggested the best way to make the most of your time at SXSW is to meet with as many people as possible. I certainly took that advice to heart, grabbing the rewarding opportunity to speak with our diverse guests, sponsors and W2O Group subject matter experts. I can’t wait for my next adventure with the Center for Social Commerce.


Amanda Dominguez

Attending W2O Group’s SXSW events was an incredible way to begin my Ambassadorship. I was very impressed with the dozens of inspiring leaders who participated and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet many of them behind-the-scenes during the events.

At the PreCommerce Summit, Rohit Bhargava, CEO and Founder of Influential Marketing Group, started things off strong by providing insights into how to predict trends across industries. To use his own words, “The signs of the future are already here, you just need to see the trends.” Another highlight for me was a talk by Ray Kerins, Head of Communications and Government Relations at Bayer. I had the opportunity to capture an interview with him for W2O Group’s Periscope account, during which he underscored the importance of corporate social responsibility. His willingness to take a moment to share his guidance with a college student reinforced the ideas he spoke about.

At Movers and Shapers, I enjoyed meeting two entrepreneurs who appeared on one of my favorite shows, NBC’s “Shark Tank.”  Bryan Thomas and Amelia Cosgrove co-founded PopUp Play, a company that allows children to custom-design their own toys. They talked about the idea that providing the opportunity to customize a product or experience signifies that a brand is attuned to their customers’ unique interests and needs.

Throughout both events, each speaker shared a distinct perspective, yet one common theme resonated throughout: Advances in technology, data and analytics will continue to have an enormous impact on the way we do business, consume information and relate to the world around us.