2008 International Young ICT Professionals Conference

I’ve just arrived back home from a few days in Adelaide, where I attended the Australian Computer Society’s Young ICT professionals conference at the Convention Centre. It was my first conference and I didn’t know any of the other guests but it was a fantastic experience and I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference in Sydney.

The theme of the conference was “Building a Successful Career – Learn, Develop, Lead” and I really appreciated how it was directed mainly at current university students and recent graduate. The speakers all spoke on the topic at some level – particularly leadership.

The conference started on Thursday with speeches from the ‘big guns’ – keynote speaker Jonar Nader and various directors from the conference’s main sponsor organisations: Microsoft, Google and the Defence Materiel Organisation.

Jonar is the author of “How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People” and is extremely likeable despite being an apparent expert on behaving like the exact opposite. His talk emphasised the importance of making sure that you deliver exactly what your customers want and need, not what you think they need or whatever is popular at the time. It’s something I’ve already experienced on a few projects and I keep reminding myself to think about. I haven’t actually read Jonar’s books yet but they’re on my shopping list now.

Alan Noble, the Engineering director of Google Australia spoke about “The World According to Google”. I think most of the conference attendees were most interested in hearing what Alan had to say – such is the Google juggernaut. Alan didn’t really talk too much about leadership but he did talk about innovation and what Google was interested in working on in the future – some tips on perhaps where the university students could direct their energies.

Norbert Haehnel, the DPE Director at Microsoft, was another enjoyable and likeable speaker. Like Alan Noble, he spoke more about the technologies that Micrsosoft was developing and what Microsoft was expecting in the next ten years, as opposed to speaking about leadership. Still, it gave me a list of links and technologies to research! The video he showed us about ubiquitous and totally integrated communications technology was pretty exciting. Of the other technologies he spoke about, Silverlight and Surface in particular have piqued my interest.

Both Google and Microsoft seem very focused on the web and communications – not surprising really. The web is still expanding and constantly revealing new ways to interact or disseminate information – it’s only a pity that Australia’s Internet infrastructure is still lacking. It really needs to improve if we want to fully utilise what companies like Google and Microsoft have to offer – and then build on it.

Anyway, back to the conference. There were obviously quite a few speakers talking about graduate job opportunities or the recruitment process – one breakout session had two streams: one targeted at current students applying for that first job, the other focused on how to develop and grow a career for recent graduates already working.

The conference also included a gala dinner with many speakers and awards for ACS members. It was a great networking opportunity and I made some new friends in the Victorian (and Western Australian!) Young ICT committee. I think I’ll be looking at joining the committee myself in the future.

Overall, I really recommend the conference to ICT students, speaking as one myself. I think recent graduates can gain much from this conference too. The only part I regret is not spending more time in Adelaide and taking a better look around – especially since I hadn’t visited the city since I was in primary school!

It was revealed that the next conference will be in Sydney in 2009. No word yet on what the theme will be but I’m already sure I’ll make the trip next year.

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