Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Spotlight on CEE Presenter: Molly Hollinger

By Phil Marks

Conferences – especially milestone events – require a tremendous amount of planning, coordination and execution occur before any conference attendees arrive.  Fortunately for this year’s Creativity ExpertExchange as ICSC celebrates its 50th anniversary, Molly Holinger is the conference manager. 
Molly is pleasant and enthusiastic, and her positive energy and generous laughter are contagious. Like many creativity experts, Molly’s path to the field of creativity was serendipitous.  While studying French at the University of Illinois, Molly took a creativity class offered within the UIUC engineering department.  The following year, Molly was the teaching assistant for the course, and the year after that, the professor asked her to ‘TA’ the course again.  This time, she helped the professor and other teaching assistants write a book and develop coursework for the class.  Soon after, Molly received her M.Sc. from Buffalo State, and is now pursuing a Ph.D. at U.Conn.  Her decision for U. Conn. reflects the benefit of having multiple options.  She enjoys her work with James Kaufman, who is available and takes seriously his advising responsibilities. 
As an ‘Early Bird’ FourSight preference (clarifier/implementer), her preference for clarifying and ideation frees Molly to “jump in”.  It also seems that Molly enjoys the process of discovery and resolution, and has learned to trust her problem solving skills.  These skills have been evident even as an undergrad studying in Paris, where for the first time in her life Molly rented an apartment and set up a cell phone account and a bank account - in French, in Parisian culture!  Always eager to learn and to grow, Molly shares that her conference manager role is forcing her to exercise her developer and implementer muscles.  She is also practicing Prioritizing: reflecting awareness of her personal goals and limitations, and saying ‘no’ to things that are extraneous to those goals. 
For an interesting conversation, ask Molly about her research and writing on the benefits of creativity and Positive Psychology for 20-somethings – particularly Millennials like herself.  Millennials are generally considered to have lived a sheltered experience in their formative years, which raises questions not only about Millennials’ resilience, but also about how their creative approach and output might differ that of other generations.  Would it be more exploratory and curious, but less persistent?  Molly also has well-informed opinions about intergenerational judging, that is, the tendency for older generations to judge Millennials as requiring more attention and adaptation than previous generations…but worth the effort.
Molly explains her CEE conference manager role as a connector: connecting a big group of diverse people working on a variety of aspects of the conference.  Her responsibility is to make sure, for example, that the graphic arts, food and sponsorship teams all come together to create a cohesive end product.  She calls it a “privilege to have so many great people working together on it.” 
Molly loves that CEE is not your typical conference.  For example, on Saturday afternoon, there will be an unconference where people can pitch any topic they want.  The pre-conference workshops will be a great opportunity for practitioners to learn new skills and tools.  She is excited about the great group of keynote speakers, including Dr. Ron Beghetto, Dr. Yael Katz, & Dr. Mark Runco.  The ICSC faculty will be sharing their recent work, so attendees will have plenty of opportunity to be current in the field of creativity, and there will also be plenty of opportunities for networking. 
Molly is most excited about the people who will be there! “I'm really looking forward to seeing the ICSC faculty, people from my Master's program cohort, and other friends from the field who I don't get to see very often. It's going to be a great group!”
When asked what would make CEE a success for Molly, her answer reflected some great insight about the impact of the maturing field of creativity: so many organizations and people are doing so many great things, “how do we connect and create a community that shares the great things happening in the field?”  If conference attendees leave with a sense of connection to the people and activities in the spectrum of creativity work, this conference will be a success.

Phil Marks is the Global Director of Product Engineering for Federal-Mogul’s Systems Protection business unit.  He is recovering from 24 years of corporate indoctrination by becoming a change agent within Federal-Mogul.  Phil holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from WPI, Worcester, MA, and recently became a certified professional coach.  He is pursuing his M.Sc. in Creativity Studies at ICSC/SUNY Buffalo State.

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