Potential unlocked: Highlights from Smartsheet ENGAGE 2023

by The Smartsheet Team

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a week since we gathered at the Seattle Convention Center with nearly 4,000 of our customers, partners, and colleagues for ENGAGE 2023. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who came (some all the way from Fiji and South Africa!) and hope that everyone enjoyed themselves and learned as much about unlocking the potential of work, people, and content as we did.

Whether you’re considering attending next year and want to see what all the excitement is about, or you’re like us and just want to relive the magic of last week, we’ve put together this post featuring photos and summaries of some of our favorite moments. In no particular order, here are a few of the most memorable highlights from Smartsheet ENGAGE 2023.

Opening keynote

We kicked off our “celebration of innovation” with an inspirational poem by Emmy-nominated author, poet, and playwright Jon Goode, after which Smartsheet CEO, Mark Mader, took the main stage. He shared his thoughts on the pivotal changes we all feel taking place in the world, our companies, and ourselves. “Change is always hard, but when there is disruption we also see a ton of potential,” he said.

“We’re trying to change how you get work done so we can do more,” Mark continued. “We’re trying to harness technology so we can help operate at what we call peak human. Operating at peak human starts with a fundamental shift. That fundamental shift is your mindset.” He then invited everyone to adopt an explorer mindset, vowing that if they bring the curiosity, Smartsheet will continue to bring the solutions. 

To help illustrate Mark’s point, Smartsheet VP of Product Marketing, Kati Quigley, chatted with executives from ADP, Goodwill, and Sodexo about how Smartsheet empowers them to drive meaningful change across three key use cases: modern project and portfolio management, marketing and creative management, and strategic transformation. Our guests shared how Smartsheet enables them to rethink work and build customized solutions, explained what it takes to manage a global brand at the local level, offered three lessons learned for driving strategic transformation, and much more.

Last but not least, Smartsheet SVP of Product Experience, Ben Canning, gave everyone an exciting sneak peek at the latest features in the Smartsheet enterprise work management platform. “Leveraging AI-driven technology and our own special sauce, we’ve focused on making small and large improvements to the Smartsheet platform to support you in the three key areas to achieve your goals and unlock your potential: work, people, and content, all underpinned by security and scale,” he said.

Among the 10+ product updates and announcements Ben shared were a number of “practical” generative AI tools, including the Smartsheet AI Assistant, which helps build custom work solutions using a chat interface. The Analyze Data skill will minimize post-meeting follow-ups by allowing teams to ask complex data analysis questions and receive answers in real-time, while up-and-coming content generation functionality will assist in summarizing and translating copy. 

You can watch the recording of the ENGAGE 2023 opening keynote on YouTube. For a detailed breakdown of each of the features covered in Ben’s keynote and their availability, view this article

Day 2 keynote

Day two of the conference started out with a keynote featuring Smartsheet CMO Andrew Bennett, acclaimed author and speaker Lisa Bodell, and Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman. During her speech, Lisa discussed that while the global pandemic challenged us to rethink how we spend our time, many people still choose complexity rather than focusing on ways to simplify their daily lives, both in and out of work. 

“It’s easier to do something we know rather than question the assumptions around something,” she said. “You think you are in a groove — following a process — but maybe you’re in a rut.” She went on to share actionable tips to escape the “complexity trap” and create space for thinking to happen, including minimizing the number of people in meetings, adding “no need to respond” to one-way email communication, and committing to stopping certain low-value activities. She also supplied the audience with two key questions to ask themselves: What do you want to spend more time doing, and what’s stopping you?

Next Andrew welcomed Aly Raisman to the stage, who spoke about the importance of prioritizing mental health to unlock your full potential. “I wish that when I was younger that there was more of an emphasis on my mental health,” she said. “It’s still a huge stigma. It’s so important that we continue to talk about it.” She also stressed the importance of being prepared but not letting perfectionism get in the way of performance. “Every meeting, you’re not going to be on your game. We’re not always at our best and that’s okay.” Her Olympic advice for how to handle pressure in a healthy way? “Just do your normal.”

Before wrapping up the keynote, Andrew invited Lisa to join him and Aly back on stage for a discussion about achieving your personal best while contributing to a team. “I find when I’m overthinking, I’m not able to be myself,” said Aly. “I’m learning to just trust myself and be my normal — my baseline. It’s easier said than done.” Lisa, a self-proclaimed “Olympic overthinker” shared that she focuses on two things to help center her thoughts, minimize fear, and build trust with others: clarity and open communication.

Attendee party

After a fun-filled and eye-opening week of inspirational stories and educational insights, we wrapped up ENGAGE 2023 with our annual attendee party. The dinner and drinks were delicious and the live DJ kept us dancing with all our favorite tunes. Folks crowded into the photo booth to take pictures with new friends, and everybody had a ball playing games like glow-in-the-dark mini golf, DDR, and arcade basketball. What a way to cap off the festivities!

The Experience Hub

Ask any of our attendees and they’ll tell you that the Experience Hub is like the Main Street of ENGAGE. Divided into several “neighborhoods,” including User Utopia and Content Cove, this year’s Experience Hub featured more than fifty booths staffed by Smartsheet experts, customers, and solutioning partners. 

In addition to asking questions and sharing thoughts on all things Smartsheet, Experience Hub visitors also took a pause to get some work done and network over lattes at the Coffee Connect lounge. TIME hosted a video booth where people were invited to stop by and share their thoughts on teamwork, collaboration, and operating at peak human. The Seattle Kraken Zamboni and its brand new paint job were also present and available for selfies!


A track for every attendee

In addition to our two main stage keynotes, this year’s conference offered five distinct learning tracks with more than 65 breakout sessions and 100 amazing speakers:

  • Modern Project and Portfolio Management: Geared toward members of the PMO organization, this track offered actionable strategies for creating consistent project and portfolio management that scales. Topics included strategic planning, resource management, demand intake, and much more, with sessions dedicated to helping attendees assess their PPM maturity and develop modern PMO organizations.

  • Marketing and Creative Management: Participants in this track learned how to use Smartsheet to deliver better customer experiences and campaigns at record speed. Speakers focused on demystifying digital asset management (DAM), streamlining creative operations, using AI to assist in content creation, and more.

  • Strategic Transformation: This track offered a mix of Smartsheet expert sessions and customer panels dedicated to empowering attendees to drive meaningful change and continuous improvement across their organizations. Key topics covered included overseeing change management, using the Smartsheet API, measuring the impact of transformation initiatives, and streamlining mergers and acquisitions.

  • Smartsheet Platform: Basics and Beyond: This instructional, hands-on track was intended to help Smartsheet users feel more confident in the platform, regardless of their skill level. From creating and managing your first project to building WorkApps, there was a session for everybody, including a chance to see a sneak peek of the Smartsheet product roadmap.

  • Security, Governance, and Administration: Dedicated to Smartsheet system administrators, this track provided session attendees with the skills they need to manage their Smartsheet users and accounts efficiently and securely. Speakers also shared tips for connecting data and systems across the enterprise.

Missed a session or want to rewatch your favorites? You can now access over fifty breakout session recordings on-demand. Explore the on-demand sessions here.

Women in IT luncheon

This special lunch featured a panel of five powerhouse Smartsheet leaders sharing their experiences as women and gender minorities in technology. Together the panelists discussed what it takes to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace, after which they made their way to various tables to continue the conversation over lunch. 

When asked about overcoming imposter syndrome, Smartsheet SVP of Engineering, Cynthia Tee, shared, “When I begin questioning whether I should be in a room, I ask myself where it’s coming from. If it’s coming from not understanding something, I can ask questions. I have found that for 99.9% of the questions [I have] that I’m not the only person in that situation who got confused. This guy sitting next to me has no qualms knowing he belongs here even though maybe that’s questionable. So I remind myself, why should I question that?”

Smartsheet VP of Customer Success, Allison Corley, gave her advice for maintaining work/life balance as a woman in an executive role: Clear is kind. “I try to be very clear with my husband when things are encroaching,” she said. “‘Clear is kind’ is also about saying no. What you choose to do in your day is really, really important.”

Volunteer service project

Smartsheet is dedicated to empowering people to drive meaningful change — not just within their companies, but also within their personal lives and communities. To bring this mission to life, we gathered Smartsheet employees and ENGAGE attendees to help clean the downtown Seattle neighborhoods surrounding the convention center. A special thank you to the ~45 folks who volunteered!

Newbie orientation 

The only thing we love as much as recognizing familiar faces at ENGAGE each year is seeing new ones! During this fun mixer, first-time attendees got the chance to meet and mingle while learning how to get the most out of their premier ENGAGE experience from Smartsheet CMO Andrew Bennett and the ENGAGE planning team.

DEI panel and mixer

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a top priority for Smartsheet, so we were thrilled to host a panel of experts who shared how they use the Smartsheet platform to help manage DEI initiatives at their companies. From strategy and planning to execution and reporting, the panelists gave their tips for bringing people together, translating purpose into action, and making a measurable difference. 

“It’s not all food and fun,” reminded Emily Saforrian, Director of Product Management and ​​co-founder of the LGBTQIA+ resource group, the Rainbow Collab, at Smartsheet. “We need to set goals and objectives so we can go back and check, ‘Hey, where are we having an impact?’” After the panel, Emily and her fellow Smartsheet Employee Resource Group members held a DEI mixer where attendees enjoyed food and drinks while chatting more about how to take their DEI efforts to the next level.

Brand Collective podcast, live!

The Brand Collective podcast is a place to explore and uncover what happens behind the scenes of some of the world's most interesting brands, and for the second year in a row, we were lucky enough to record an episode live during ENGAGE. Lorit Queller, Content Development Manager at iS Clinical, and Denise Southerland, VP of Operational Excellence at Bobbitt, shared their advice and experiences around prioritizing personal growth, being a woman in the workplace, what makes a good mentor, and so much more.

Don’t miss this and every other insightful episode of the Brand Collective podcast, which is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and here.

See you next year

These are just a few of the unforgettable highlights from ENGAGE 2023. Did we miss your favorite moment? We’d love to hear about it on social — tag us and be sure to use the hashtag #SmartsheetENGAGE. And, if you attended ENGAGE 2023, don't forget to claim your attendee badge by signing into Community, today.

Thank you to every Smartsheet employee who helped bring ENGAGE 2023 to life and to every customer and partner who spent the week with us. We hope to see you again next year for double the fun at not one but two ENGAGE events! 

Join us for ENGAGE EMEA in London on May 13-15, and again in Seattle for ENGAGE 2024 on October 7-10. Stay tuned for more details here.