On May 14 and 15 in Arlington Heights, Illinois, the Chicago Chapter hosted the 2009 Region 5 Spring Conference. Loaded with exceptional content, outstanding sponsors and a variety of activities, the conference had something for everyone. The event was held at the Arlington Heights Sheraton located next to Arlington Park Race Course and proved to be the most well attended AITP conference in 20 years with between 250 and 300 members and nonmembers taking advantage of the jam-packed agenda.
The conference opened with two optional training sessions on Thursday morning (May 14). Training registrants had their choice between a 7-hour cram-course in ITIL Foundations offered by Directions Training or a 5 hour Leadership workshop led by Andy Kaufman. Over 30 people attended the optional training sessions which included breakfast and lunch. Reviews from attendees gave the training sessions outstanding ratings.
Following training, the Conference officially opened at 2:00pm. From 2:00 - 5:00 registrants attended 2 or 3 of the 9 available break-out sessions on topics ranging from PMO, Outsourcing and Staffing/Managing Agile Projects to Cloud Computing, Logistics and Supply Chain and Business Intelligence. The break-out sessions were planned, organized and facilitated by the Windy City Chapter Special Interest Groups (SIG) who put tremendous effort into ensuring the panelists, presenters and moderators offered attendees current, practical information they could apply in their organizations. Rooms were jam packed with an average of 35 attendees in each session and 3 sessions attracting 45 - 60 people.
Following the break-out sessions was a reception and optional dinner. The reception, hosted by one of the conference Platinum sponsors, Glenture, was held in the vendor area. Over 100 people stopped in for excellent food, good conversation and opportunity to meet our conference sponsors. Eighteen (18) Vendor Sponsors representing a wide array of products and services were available throughout the conference and highlighted the outstanding variety of quality suppliers in the Region.
Following the reception was an optional dinner of Filet Mignon, Windy City Chapter Awards and a presentation by John Parkinson, CTO of TransUnion, LLC entitled Leveraging Social Networking Tools in the Workplace. Among the awards presented was the AITP Lifetime Award presented to John Delauriea - a fitting tribute given the dedication John has shown AITP through the years and exemplified once again his leadership in organizing the conference! The presentation by John Parkinson did not disappoint! John's engaging style had the crowd of over 60 individuals entranced and laughing while his in depth expertise outlined the critical success factors to fully capitalize on social networking tools and reap the potential financial and cultural benefits they offer. The night wrapped up around 9:00 with most retiring to rest up for the next day. A few hard liners reconvened in the hospitality suite to catch up with colleagues and discuss the first day of the conference.
Day 2 of the conference opened at 8:00AM with the Regional Board Meeting. As with the Fall Conference, over 50 people attended the meeting and over 70 participated in the Leadership Workshop that followed. Concurrent with the Regional Board Meeting was an extended networking session hosted by Technology Leaders Association (TLA). TLA Founder and President (as well as Chair of AITP CIO SIG), Pat Moroney, opened the session with a discussion of how to maximize the benefits of networking and the importance building and maintaining professional relationships throughout your career. Pat also offered valuable advice on surviving the current economic downturn. Following Pat's informative talk, attendees spent the remaining time networking and building relationships. Over 120 people attended the session and walked away with a renewed appreciation for the value of networking and the inspiration it lends to those who dedicate themselves to helping and supporting others.
Following the Board Meeting and TLA Networking session was the CIO Panel. Over 160 people gathered to listen as five of our Region's top CIO's discussed How are Companies Investing in Technology to Get Out of the Recession? The session was moderated by Pat Moroney and included:
Dave Bent - CIO at United Stationers
Ellen Barry - CIO at Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority
Ron Markham - CIO at SPSS
Rick K. Tsuru - CIO at The Clearing Corporation
Tony M. Jackovich - CIO at The Warranty Group
Also on hand was Rich Barnier, AITP CIO Facilitator and Chairman of AITP Chicago, to lend his energy, insights and good humor.
The final formal event was the Conference Luncheon featuring Keynote Speaker, Terry Savage. 150 people signed up for the luncheon to enjoy a good food and soak up The Savage Numbers! -- The Economy, the Markets, and Your Money! As always, the Nationally Syndicated Chicago Sun Times Personal Finance Columnist was chocked full of relevant advice, critical insights and engaging anecdotes. Her relaxed, humorous style and simple language makes even the most complicated financial concepts accessible and her targeted recommendations left the audience with an action plan and the resources to execute it.
Though the conference officially closed at 2:00 following the luncheon, close to 40 individuals took advantage of a special outing to Arlington Park for an afternoon at the races. Free to AITP members, Box Seats awaited those who dared to brave the cold and rainy weather to take in the sights and maybe even wager a bit on the ponies. Though the weather drove most of us inside, almost everyone left with a little extra in their pockets and a new (or renewed) appreciation for the Sport of Kings.
Following the tremendous success of both the Fall and Spring Region 5 Conferences, it's clear that Region 5 is healthy and growing! It's an exciting time for all of us in AITP - and today more than ever we have the opportunity to support our IT colleagues as they face these very difficult times. It is a tremendous testimony to the importance of what we do as an organization that so many people are turning to AITP for information, support and education. All we have to do is build on the momentum and constantly seek better and better ways to meet the ever-evolving needs of our membership.