I'm absolutely thrilled to announce that I've been working with the fine team at White October Events to produce a brand new conference for people who lead digital projects. Ground Control Conference will take place on April 21, 2017 in my favorite city in the world, London. And, we'll host a set of pre-conference workshops (mine included) on April 20.
The back story
I'm American, so you might be wondering how I got involved in this event. Well, my friends Holly Davis and Stephen Thomas worked at the agency White October, whose sister company is White October Events. In 2015 I presented a workshop at The Big DO in Oxford and got to meet some of the White October Events team. Over the course of a year or so, we had some conversations about how an event in London would be great for the DPM community. We even thought about maybe partnering and bringing the Digital PM Summit to the UK. Though, that never panned out.
After a lot of deliberation, White October Events decided to proceed and add a new conference for DPMs to their roster. They asked me to partner with them to help create this brand new event. I was thrilled by the opportunity (still am)!
I really like their approach to creating and programming events. Essentially, WOE partner with industry leaders like Meri Williams to create new events that are dedicated to a specific audience. This appeals to me, because it brings both a seasoned, professional event organizer and industry professional to the table to name the event, define its strategy, create the program, and select the speakers. I think that makes for a well-run and crafted event schedule and experience! It certainly has made for a special experience for me thus far, and we have not even hosted the event yet.
Anyone who works in marketing knows that naming a thing like a product or an event can be difficult. We brainstormed many ideas and tried to come up with a name that was fine and implied project management, rather than beating you over the head with the name of the audience. After all, project management skills apply to people in many different roles, and we'll always include talks on a variety of management-related topics.
Coincidentally, I worked with a team to name another event a few years back. In that exercise, I came up with a bunch of names that I loved, but really just didn't fit within the larger brand. One of the names that I've always wanted to use for something DPM-related was Ground Control. It may make you think of aviation, space travel, or even David Bowie. But it also might invoke the idea that there is someone "on the ground" communicating with people in the air, coordinating movement, activity, and landings. Sound a bit like DPM to me.
Clearly I like the name. What do you think?
I've had the opportunity to meet with Ruth Yarnit of WOE in person a couple of times to discuss the event. A highlight of my last trip to London was meeting Ruth at the Tate Modern to discuss our event schedule. After we established the types of sessions we wanted to include, Ruth, Jo Lankester, and I worked together to release a call for papers and recruited what we think will be the best suited speakers for our very first event together. And, I have to say: selecting those speakers was difficult! We had a number of qualified submissions. But the process WOE apply is methodical, considered, and very fair. I really enjoyed it and feel great about the final speaker roster and corresponding topics.
The return on using such a great process of selection is a conference schedule that is equal parts informative, interactive, serious, and fun, and of course filled with brilliant speakers. We've got an amazing lineup of speakers, which includes friends I've known for years, and speakers I'm really eager to meet. It's going to be a great day.
If you'd have told me ten years ago that part of my future career would be as a community organizer, or even organizing and curating conferences, I would have laughed. Sure, I have always enjoyed the conference setting, but I'm a DPM. That said, I like meeting new people and learning about better or different ways of working. I've always believed that conferences are valuable events for those who are both new to the industry or veterans. After all, there is always something new to learn, people to meet (or catch up with), and exchanges that inspire your work. Even as a person who attends a lot of conferences, I feel as though I have the opportunity to learn something new each time I attend, whether that be through listening to a talk or speaking with a colleague. That allows me to be a stronger consultant and help teams and companies identify and resolve challenges.
Needless to say, I am truly looking forward to Ground Control! And I have to admit: I'm a lucky guy. I get to speak and learn about and the work that I truly love doing, and I get to organize events that bring like-minded people together. And, in doing so, I strengthen my own expertise and broaden my contacts. You can do the exact same thing next month! I hope you'll join me in London April 20-21, and say hello.
Thank you to my new friends at White October Events for involving me in this event. You've made my year.