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Nerd Nite Melbourne #43

12 May 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Enjoy a beer while listening to a professional futurist, a lecturer in immersive technology, and a sales prodigy talk about their fields of expertise.

Nerd Nite Melbourne continues its parabolic rise from the ashes of 2020! Edition #43 features three distinguished professionals with fascinating stories to tell. Bridgette Engeler introduces futures thinking in the post-normal era, Rick Skarbez explores the history and outlook of virtual reality, and Stephanie Met presents new paradigms in ethical, empathic sales tactics. We look forward to welcoming the Nerd Nite community back to Howler for another round of beers, burgers and brains!

Presentation 1

Black swans and wild cards: futures thinking for postnormal times by Bridgette Engeler

Description: Sure, 2020 could be considered unprecedented, but was it really unanticipated? There’s been much talk of black swans, wild cards and ‘the new normal’, but what do those terms really mean? While most ‘predictions’ about the future are typically either very specific (this is the future of work) or very vague (one day robots will do all our jobs), when we make something like a global outbreak of a virus appear to be incredibly rare, it’s more likely that we will accept that assumption and fail to prepare for the next one (which is partly why we got last year). In this talk you’ll learn that the future doesn’t exist, there are no future facts, and most ‘predictions’ don’t come true. You’ll also find out why a little bit of futures literacy can go a long way.

Bio: Bridgette Engeler is a pracademic working across strategic foresight and design, innovation and entrepreneurship. A professional futurist, she regularly collaborates on projects and programs spanning speculative design, experiential and critical futures, and prospective thinking in business and organisations. Bridgette’s work explores the nexus created between design and foresight, and emergent opportunities intersecting culture, systems and technology. She is a Member of the Association of Professional Futurists and World Futures Studies Federation, doesn’t play golf, and enjoys more than the odd glass of wine.

Presentation 2

I’m Not Dead: The Past, Present, and Potential of VR by Rick Skarbez

Description: Ever since virtual reality became a thing, people have been asking if virtual reality was still a thing. Spoiler: It’s still a thing. VR is like a slasher movie villain, older than you think, frequently declared dead, but always coming back when someone thinks there’s money to be mad. Also, depending on your opinion of Facebook, evil. I’m going to take you on a whirlwind tour of VR’s colourful history and speculate on where things might go in the future, with an eye toward how VR might already be improving people’s lives in ways you never thought possible.

Bio: Rick Skarbez is a lecturer in immersive technology at La Trobe University, which he thinks sounds nerdy enough for this, or any, occasion. He started uni as an electrical engineer, finished it as a computer engineer, did his MS in computer science, and got his doctorate doing psychological experiments. If there’s anything that involves even less calculus, that might be in his future. His research focuses on how and why people react to computer-generated stimuli as if they were real, with a special interest in why folks believe – or don’t believe – in events that they experience in VR.

Presentation 3

Becoming an empathetic shark: How I learned to love sales and stop hating myself By Stephanie Met 

Description: What do used car salesmen, Wall Street execs, cult leaders, that Sham-wow guy and Mormons all have in common? They all evoke a slightly icky feeling from the general public and ultimately get a bad wrap for doing their jobs: selling. But what if sales didn’t have to be gross? Gone are the days of Mad Men and 3-cocktail lunches (RIP) and with them, so too their antiquated sales tactics. Sales has gone through quite the evolution over the past 40 years: there’s a new generation of sales people leading with empathy and vulnerability instead of trying to fund their next mega yacht and it’s shifting the narrative. Modern selling is just simple alchemy –  a dash of ethics, a skosh of bias recognition, a pinch of psychology and a whole lotta human connection. Let me help you fall in love with sales and use it as a force for good across all aspects of your life (or at least help you get a sweet discount on that next big ticket item you buy).

Bio: Steph Met is a rather unremarkable individual who has made a career in sales working for some pretty remarkable companies over the years, like Tesla and now Culture Amp. She fancies herself a bit of a sales guru but not in a weird way – just passionate about the psychology of sales and how to use those powers ethically. Her current focuses are around improving workplace culture, minimising bias, increasing minority representation in the world of sales and finding as many fellow People Geeks as she possibly can.


12 May 2021
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Howler, 7-11 Dawson Street, Brunswick


Nerd Nite Melbourne