Ideasphere – BSD Spreads Ideas in Financial Industry


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Co-op Member Brenna Hardman’s Buy Side Design Spreads Ideas in the Financial Industry

CIW Co-op member Brenna Hardman launched Buy Side Design (BSD) in the summer of 2013 with the goal of increasing transparency and information sharing in the financial industry.  The design firm provides companies with the tools to promote the work they do via videos, websites and other means in an industry that traditionally shies away from cameras and press.
 RMB trading floor 2
Brenna Hardman got her start as a trader and broadcaster on the CME floor.
I’m here to make finance fashionable,” Hardman says of her design goals, adding that she believes BSD’s efforts will help break down “The Great Wall”—as she’s nicknamed it—that stands between the public and those who work in the financial industry.
“I’m finding that there are a lot of unhappy people in the financial industry, and there are a lot of people unhappy with the financial industry.  So, my goal is to change that, and I’m doing it with Buy Side Design,” Hardman said.

Hardman’s experience with the “secretive” financial industry comes first-hand.  Her career started on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) floor, where she worked a dual role as a trader and broadcaster.  After five years at the CME, a bank in the Netherlands recruited her to launch their Chicago media hub. The job was ultimately unsatisfactory—the company was reticent to promote their work via media channels—but Hardman picked up some graphic design skills, and the idea for her own design and media firm, along the way. Hardman credits Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) with showing her the full potential of sharing ideas and information both within and across industry.  The seven-day ideas festival, which took place in mid-October 2013, occurred when BSD was still a nascent company. “I really think it helped me solidify the reasons why I started Buy Side Design,” Hardman said of CIW, where she attended six talks and began sharing ideas via twitter and other social media platforms.  She left eager to participate in CIW events year-round, spurring her on to apply to the CIW Co-op’s 2014 class. “What a great group of people to be around,” Hardman said of the Co-op’s 85 members.  “It’s been so incredible just participating in the events of the Co-op so far.” Hardman has taken this philosophy of open ideas to BSD’s first projects also.  The firm recently used social media and other platforms to lead a local company’s hiring campaign.  Starting with just 40 employees, the company has now grown to nearly 85 with help from BSD.