What I have got from the UKOUG (and what could be improved)
Posted by John Hallas on November 4, 2010
After realising that both my recent posts had mentioned the UKOUG I thought it would be a good idea to document the benefits I have received from UKOUG membership.
Firstly the conference is excellent and I have attended in the last two years and really benefitted from it. Why only the last two years you may ask. Prior to that for around 15 years I was a self-employed contractor and I never felt that it would benefit me enough to cover the loss of earnings and the cost of attendance and overnight stays. In hindsight I am not sure I agree with that philosophy and I think that if you attend with the intention of learning all you can, spend the full day there, do not disappear for a 2 hour liquid lunch off-site and do as much networking as you can then the payback may be substantial.
Secondly the SIG offers a good opportunity to both meet and great and learn new things. Obviously it very much depends on the agenda as to how much value you will get but I know that several I have attended, after being asked to speak, have proved much more valuable than I initially thought after seeing the agenda.
The opportunity to network cannot be understated, not just from the staff employee’s viewpoint but also from the independent contractor’s viewpoint. I mentioned this week that I met Julian Dyke at a SIG and he has now done some work for us. That came out of a chance conversation over lunch. How many more opportunities are they to talk to fellow Oracle technologists as easily and informally as that?
I know that the UKOUG will have listed many more advantages on their web-site than I have mentioned, but those are the main three that have impacted me.
I know it seems odd but having seen someone speak at either the conference or a SIG (which is much more low-key) then I do not feel inhibited in mailing them with a specific comment or thought about something that I might have read on their blog or web-site. It is almost as if I know them because I have been in their presence.
Yet another direct benefit of UKOUG membership for both me and my company is recruitment. I presented at the Northern Server day last year and was approached later by someone who was interested in working with us. I really wanted to say with me but that would be stretching the truth. That person and another colleague from the same company now both work with me and the benefit the company has received is that we did not pay any advertising or recruitment fees, which are typically around 20% of first year salary.
Now I know that is not typical but it is also not unknown. What is even more likely is that if potential staff see that a company sends staff to conferences (the name badge is useful sometimes) or have good quality speakers or are doing interesting things with the technology then that helps to make your company much more attractive and prone to recruit the calibre of staff that you want.
Now it is far from me to want to write a gushing piece about UKOUG so I will now highlight what I feel are areas that they can expand upon.
As I am based in the North of England then SIG attendance in London is expensive and it is even more so if you live in Newcastle or Glasgow. It seems a shame sometimes that a good meeting cannot be repeated in a central area other than London. Leeds springs to mind!! The Northern Server day has been a success in recent years and perhaps that could be expanded to have two streams or maybe a choice of presentations.
Secondly I wonder if there are too many SIG groups. For the life of me I do not know what the difference is between the Unix SIG and the DBMS SIG and I have presented to both. I don’t think there is a Wintel SIG. The RAC SIG is probably of interest to many who attend either of the afore-mentioned SIGS. Is there not duplication in effort in having too many SIGs, although I am not advocating having less event days.
Thirdly I have long thought that a group of like-minded professionals should have some mechanism to recruit or advertise job vacancies freely or for low cost. However I would not want to go the way of LinkedIn where some groups are inundated with recruiters and adverts for jobs in some remote corner of the world.
I could continue but I think that I have managed to get my views across, if not concisely, at least with some feeling.