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The Where We Work Dilemma: Remote, Back to Office or Hybrid?

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Artemis Berry
NRF, Vice President, Member Relations & Strategic Partnerships

Artemis Berry is vice president of member relations and strategic partnerships at the National Retail Federation. Berry heads up the year-round member experience, recruitment and engagement strategy and oversees a team responsible for partnerships and community and program management for digital, technology, loss prevention and marketing communities for the retail industry.

Before taking on the membership role, Berry managed NRF’s digital retail community and was responsible for community engagement, branding, education and thought leadership. She formed the NRF Digital Council, established and managed NRF’s Startup of the Year Competition and led other strategic programs and partnerships.

Prior to joining NRF, Berry worked at several technology startups. Her last role was as the marketing director for Vision Chain, a Washington, D.C. area-based startup software company where she managed all facets of the company’s integrated marketing portfolio including media, digital strategy and event management as well as supporting business development, customer success and strategic partnership initiatives.

Berry holds a bachelor's degree in marketing from Virginia Tech (where she currently serves as President of the Pamplin Business School Marketing Advisory Board) and a master's degree in corporate communications and public relations specializing in digital communications from Georgetown University.

Austen Brower
Poppy Flowers, Director of Operations

Austen Brower is the Director of Operations at Poppy Flowers, a DC-based startup providing Flowers for the big day, or just every day. His role spans internal and external operations. Working collaboratively, developing culture, building new systems, and fostering relationships cross-culturally are essential to him. Previously, he was a product and project manager for a philanthropic investing platform at Global Impact.

He has always had an eye for community and loved exploring new ways to facilitate it. He was heavily involved in Washington D.C.'s entrepreneurial ecosystem supporting new founders by co-founding 1 Million Cups DC and developing connections through Drip: A DC Coffee Podcast. In January 2020, he chose to send a note of thanks daily to spread positivity to his network. Out of that experience, he published the book Gratitude: A Work in Progress.

Austen Brower obtained his undergraduate degree in international relations from The College of William & Mary '14. He received his MBA from Georgetown University '21.

Swamy Ram
Sandboxx, Co-Founder, COO & CTO

Swamy is an entrepreneur and a technology evangelist who began his career in India as a teacher before he moved to the United States in 2000. His passion for impact-oriented businesses has helped him influence his teams over the last 20 years. He has been a part of several startups playing a multitude of leadership roles focusing on product vision, team dynamics, radical candor, and strategic culture. Swamy also acts as an advisor to organizations offering mentorship in product modeling and execution. Swamy currently serves as the Co-Founder, COO & CTO of Sandboxx, a military lifestyle company focusing on the betterment of military service members who keep the country safe. Swamy’s career trajectory has lent itself to leadership roles in various teams in Product, Design, Sales, Marketing, and Engineering. Swamy’s life motto is "if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change" and from a young age, he’s put that into practice in both his personal life and professional career. Swamy holds a master’s degree in computer engineering and computer sciences from the University of Louisville and a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences Kerala University in India. He also holds a certificate from Harvard Extension School for Finance and Investment theory.

Amira El-Gawly
Manifesta and St. Plant, Founder + CEO

Amira El-Gawly is an entrepreneur, coach and writer with over 15 years

guiding executives and brands to design elevated and impactful experiences,

both internal and external, that are authentically aligned to their company's

mission and values. El-Gawly is the founder and CEO of Manifesta, a

leadership and workplace culture consultancy with a focus on team

alignment, wellbeing and performance. She speaks and coaches on a number

of topics, and is most known for her strategies on strengths-based leadership

and compassion at work. El-Gawly is also the founder of St. Plant, a business

designed to reconnect humans with nature through meaningful products and

experiences. Her favorite plant’s name is Dolly.


Around the nation and globe, organizational leaders and employees are battling the pros and cons of where we work. Is it time to go back to the office? Do we even still need offices? What role does geography and place play into our culture, productivity and wellbeing? Join this incredible panel of thoughtful team leaders for an engaging debate on where we go from here.