We recently had the opportuinuty to chat with Kristi Elizondo, CEO of Connect Worldwide, about her experience in the HPE NonStop industry in the latest version of The Connection’s series on Women in NonStop. In this follow-up, we got to chat about what is coming up at the year’s Technical Boot Camp and what else is going on in NonStop User Groups.
Mandi: Is there anything you can tell us about what’s coming down the pipeline for Boot Camp, and how that’s going to be this year?
Kristi: Well, probably one of the biggest things that’s happening this year is that we’re moving it from the San Jose area, where we’ve been for several years, to the San Francisco Airport area. I think that’s going to offer some opportunities, in a lot of ways. People will have the ability to go into the city in the evening if there’s not an event going on. We’ve usually been too far away, for people to be able to enjoy San Francisco.
We have been trying to put more of a team effort into the activities that are outside of the content piece of it. During the closing ceremony, we are actually having a wine blending competition! We’re going to have a local vineyard come in and put together teams of ten and we’re going to compete on blending the perfect wine and have a tasting. Whoever wins gets their name up in lights! And then everyone will go home with a bottle of wine. We are building a theme out of that for the fun part of it.
In terms of the event side of it, it is still a very technical event with the same number of tracks we’ve always had. I know there were some concerns because Wendy Bartlett retired, but she’s very active and helping us with the content. She’s staying on as a volunteer and will be at Boot Camp. Karen Copeland and Andy Bergholz are very active in the content development. We’re still laying out the final keynotes, but we do have a couple of customer keynotes this time, which is a little different than what we’ve done in the past. There will still be an HPE keynote, of course.
We will have the SIG meetings that we usually have, and we have the Under Forty SIG meeting again this year as well. We have a new board member, Navid from Idelji, who has been giving us a lot of ideas of what the shape of the event should look like for the future. I think that is something we’ll probably go over with the group to see how we might want to go forward for 2018 and 2019. As our demographics, in terms of the age group, changes over the years we have to look at how we produce events and what the layout of the event looks like as well. The primary reason people go to the event is for the face-to-face contact and we need to create more opportunities for people to have face-to-face discussions. Instead of being spread out across the hotel in individual session rooms, we have to create more of a community aspect.
Mandi: Is there anything else going on at Connect Worldwide that you would like to share?
Kristi: Well, I had a call yesterday and we just launched a new chapter in Latin America. There will be an event coming up in the spring timeframe, and they’re focusing on doing a regional event that includes multiple companies in South America, as opposed to just having individual countries having separate events. That’s really exciting because we know there are customers there, but we haven’t put a lot of attention on them.
We will be at Discover in December in Madrid. We do customer sessions in our booth on the show floor so we can help provide more customer-based content to that event. We spend our time educating customers about Connect and signing them up for the complementary membership.
We have a new opportunity that’s going to come up in 2018, hopefully doing some partnering with HPE Educational Services before the Discover event in 2018, so that we can get more customer training on the front end of that event.
2018 will be the tenth year of Connect! It is an opportunity to have a party somewhere, lots of parties. It would be wonderful to celebrate again at HPE Discover in Las Vegas like we did in the old days, and to do something special at the boot camps. Ten years of the combined user groups: DECUS, ITUG, and Interex. Wow! All of these group would be over the 40-year mark. It is exciting to say that user groups still serve a need, and continue to build community and loyalty to the HPE brand. .
Mandi: Thank you again, Kristi!
Kristi: It was my pleasure!
You can read the rest of our interview with Kristi in the September/October issue of The Connection magazine, or by it reading online.