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On being a conference director

Aprill-Allen-smconference-2016-280

 

Conference Director Aprill Allen reflects on her role and her perspective on the itSMF conference experience. Find out more about Aprill and the conference committee here.

 

 

It seems fitting that five years after I became a member of the Australian IT Service Management Forum, I’ll be attending my sixth national conference, this time as the National Events Director.

My first introduction to the itSMF was as a White Paper of the Year nominee for the 2011 conference in Perth. I knew little about the organisation and knew nothing about service management and the frameworks our members rely on to make a difference in the workplace. I’ve since certified in ITIL Foundation and Knowledge Centred Support Principles. I still don’t know much about Cobit, but there’s always something to learn! As a first-time delegate back then, my most memorable experience—even better than accepting the award—was having long-time members introduce themselves to me and connect me with others who have ended up becoming mentors, advisors, respected colleagues and firm friends.

Our conference has evolved over the years to cope with changing economic pressures and the emerging interests of our valuable community of members and sponsors. Last year’s conference, in Sydney, saw the introduction of a new member-driven review process for speaker submissions. It produced a successful program that captured the interests of local and international delegates and inspired new vendors to become active participants in our community.

I stepped into the conference director role for 2016, after Kathryn Heaton’s significant contribution to every Australian itSMF conference I’ve been to, and wondered how I could possibly make my mark after the somewhat radical changes of last year. So I did what every self-respecting marketing-oriented communicator does: I set a left-of-field theme, closed my eyes, and hoped for the best. When I opened them, at our face-to-face programming meeting last month, I was ecstatic to find that our hopeful speakers had understood the brief and grabbed it with both hands. This year, we have a range of submissions that will surely Shake I.T. Up.

We’ve also overhauled our industry awards to align them with the changes we’ve witnessed in the field. Instead of the White Paper of the Year, we now recognise a Thought Leader of the Year, and instead of Service Desk Project of the Year, we now have the ITSM Capability of the Year—opening up our awards to recognise achievement in problem management, change management, knowledge management, service design and more, right across the enterprise. And our changes to the nomination process have removed some of the red tape and barriers that made a lot of extra work for our members wanting to participate.

So, I haven’t had my eyes closed the whole time. Our five-person conference committee has been meeting fortnightly over the phone, since October, to work through keynotes and invited speaker selection, curate ideas for speaker panels, navigate budget considerations, discuss new content and exhibit proposals, work through questions about sponsorship and programming, and more. Until a few weeks ago, I’d been thinking this National Events Director caper was pretty cruisy. Our small committee has been very effective, and our national office and event managers have been an efficient team in managing logistics and a myriad of ideas. To be honest, I wondered where this workload was that my colleagues on the Board of Directors had referred to. Well, now I know.

Conference planning really steps up about 8 weeks out from conference. There are at least half-a-dozen emails flying around most days—tweaks to messaging, attending to finer details of panels, working through the possibilities of late additions to the program, scouting for award candidates and reviewing nominations, honing in on the details of social events, and other exciting trimmings that contribute to the all-important vibe of community in service management that we all enjoy and appreciate so much as volunteers and industry professionals.

I’ve been privileged to see the itSMF conference machine from several different perspectives over these past five years, and now into my sixth. In no time, we will all be in Brisbane, enjoying the camaraderie of a nation-wide community of service management consultants, vendors, practitioners and IT leaders. I look forward to learning more about our field, reaffirming long-time bonds, and building brand new connections in a few short weeks. Maybe you could nominate one of your service management peers. 😉

By |2018-03-19T16:23:19+10:00June 30th, 2016|Service Management 2016|

Service Management 2015 was a blast!

The air is still a-buzz with the excitement of the Service Management 2015 Conference held at Sofitel Wentworth Sydney on the 20th-21st of August. It was a most enjoyable couple of days made special by a prolific line up of speakers, a great range of content, networking opportunities galore and some fantastic sponsor exhibitors! It was great to see so many engaged members of the ITSM community out in force and getting the most out of their conference experience.

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This year signalled a movement toward connecting delegates to learnings from outside the IT domain and addressing the theme of Building Customer Value. All four keynotes captivated the audience with their varied expertise and insights.

Lead demographer and social commentator Bernard Salt opened the conference with an engaging and humourous exposition of his insights on Tomorrow’s Customer. Nicole Forsgren PHD then brought the conversation back to the tech sphere with her insider’s look on the the world of DevOps.

On the second day delegates enjoyed an energetic presentation from Atlassian’s co-founder and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes on the ever-important topic of Scaling Service. Rounding out the keynote presentations was motivational speaker and bestselling author Dr Jason Fox, who entertained everyone with his fantastic imagery and leadership strategies.

jason fox

The annual itSMF Industry Gala Awards Dinner on the Thursday night was a fabulous mix of great food, hearty chuckles courtesy of the hilarious Jean Kittson and of course the celebration of some outstanding finalists and winners. The festivities kicked on late in to the night with good conversation and better dancing!

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Service Management 2015 would simply not have happened without our brilliant sponsors Alemba, Atlassian, Axios, CA Technologies, Unisys, UXC, Heat Software, Freshservice, Fujitsu, HP, Xtraction Solutions, BMC, ServiceNow, Sintegral, Solisma, and xMatters. Thank you all again for your support!

Special thanks to all the speakers who helped make this conference an inspiring and motivating one, and to the many volunteers who so graciously offered their time and effort into making this an event to remember!

You can relive delegate observations or start new discussions about the conference using the #smconfAU hashtag on twitter.

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That’s all folks and we hope to see you all in 2016!

By |2018-03-19T16:23:21+10:00August 31st, 2015|blog, ITSM, Service Management 2015, wrap up|
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