One TechEd Story

Friday, April 15, 2011
One of the things I enjoy at Microsoft TechEd is talking with people to get their TechEd story.  I like to hear what they think of TechEd and about the value they get from the conference.
Claudia Perez works for Galveston County IT in Texas.  She's worked in IT for over 16 years, 15 of them for this same organization.  She manages about 1,500 users across 20 departments.  Last year she went to New Orleans for her second TechEd.
As you can imagine with any small government these days, budget cuts and staff shortages take their toll and it’s much more difficult to make the commitment to a four day conference.  There’s travel and expenses, not to mention the registration costs to contend with.  Even though state and local government get a pretty good discount, it’s still hard to justify.
So why does Claudia do it?  And just as importantly, how does her boss justify the expense?  Here's what Claudia says:
There is more than one reason why I attend TechEd. It is a combination of the sessions, the information, the convenience of having the technologies I use at a single event, and definitely the networking (and The Krewe has a lot to do with this part).
I have to admit that the first time I attended I was overwhelmed. In part because I was still in disbelief that I was approved to attend since I have been requesting the opportunity to go to TechEd for many years in a row with no results. Also, I didn’t know quite what to expect. I was very glad I came across the Krewe group during my first year.
I work for local government where I am not only the Exchange person; I am also the SQL person, the Windows Server person, etc. So TechEd makes it so convenient because I have the sessions, hands on labs, etc. that pertain to my main areas of responsibility all in one event. This way I choose what areas to focus more on depending on what projects I am working on that year. There are also the ‘after hours’ activities organized by other TechEd participants. The Exchange Roundtable is a great example.
I also like to be informed of what is coming up next or what is now available in the market that can help us. Having the ability to interact with so many different vendors in one place makes that also very convenient.
Another great reason is the networking. I have learned over the past few years how important it is as an IT pro to have a great network of IT professionals. The way we stay in touch and exchange information and even tried to help each other has proven to be very valuable. More than once I have come across an issue that I’ve never seen before, I ask the question and I always get tips, ideas, or answers from the network of people I met at TechEd.
Our current boss (for over 2 years now) understands the importance of training and continuous education. He is even pushing now for certifications and more training.  That mentality helps a lot when I have to ask for approval for the conference. I also have discussed with him the importance of having a network of professionals and he has seen how valuable it has been when I needed answers. In addition, when I comeback from TechEd, I come back with new ideas and information about how to do things more efficient, how to address some issues we may be facing, information on better practices, etc. We cannot always put new ideas into place, sometimes because of budget restrictions, but at the same time, the information gathered helps us to plan for future projects.
I think Claudia perfectly sums up the value of TechEd.  And it's really great that her boss understands this, as well.

I hope to see you all at TechEd in Atlanta in May!

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