Friday, May 4, 2012

A Cheesehead's Take on Collaborate12

Last week was Collaborate in Las Vegas. I always attempt to keep up with what is going on during the week, but there is always too much to do and not enough time. So here I am a week later putting my thoughts into a blog.

I have been attending IOUG conferences since 1999. The first few were IOUG-A Live events and were great learning experiences for me as I was growing as a DBA. Five years ago, we started co-sponsoring Collaborate with our friends at the OAUG and Quest. As I have gotten more involved in the user group community, the user community and our conferences have taken on a new meaning to me, but at the same time, have become more important.

Conferences have been around for a long time. Collaborate is an excellent opportunity for learning and networking. We say that all year long, but having just been there it still amazes me to see the knowledge level that is walking the halls at this conference. One of the coolest things for me with all the social media and networking going on, is putting a face and a hand shake to a Twitter handle or a Facebook page. These are people we know only 140 characters at a time. Actually meeting and having a face to face conversation is a treat.

My week started with several meetings for the IOUG Board. We welcomed a few new members and are sad to see some great leaders rolling off. This is normal for us, but for me personally, the three guys rolling off, Ian Abramson, Andy Flower, and Kent Hinkley, have all had a huge impact. They are part of the reason I am on the Board and I have learned a lot from all of them.

One highlight of the week for me was hearing Mark Kelly talk about his life and almost losing his wife Gabby to a shooting. His presentation was mesmerizing and had many good points for leadership and life. After the speech, the Boards of the user groups had the privilege of having Mark sign copies of his book for us. I had mine signed to my daughters and Mark reiterated one of his messages to them, "Reach for the stars!"

It is difficult to summarize the amount of technical content that was shared last week. Users, managers, leaders, Oracle technologists all sharing openly of their experiences is a great thing. There were almost 6000 total attendees at Collaborate with over 1000 sessions between the three groups. Add in the face to face networking and the fun parties, Collaborate has turned into one of the highlights of my year, every year.

Next year we will be in Denver. We were there a few years ago and I really liked the convention center there. I will be succeeding Michelle Malcher as Director of Education for Collaborate next year. Michelle has done a great job over the last two years making some great changes and introducing some new programs. We, as a user group, will be revisiting some of our educational content and offerings over the next couple months. We also have an incredible Conference Committee of dedicated, passionate people that I am looking forward to working with. If you have questions about this year's conference or suggestions for next, please let me know. We want to make sure that next year is the best year yet.