Written by Erin Robertson
Co-op Member Brenna Hardman’s Buy Side Design Spreads Ideas in the Financial Industry
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.