What follows when the HR Manager and Production Manager of an IT company – while taking a sauna bath – get an idea of an event lasting throughout the weekend? One at which our experts share their competencies first during a seminar day and then immediately followed by a two-day hackathon. Well, the event will be organised.
The idea of the event led to preliminary plans and sketches, after which it was confirmed that people other than we, the undersigned, would also be interested in it. The message from the staff was clear and it was now time to put the pieces together, apply for a budget and start work.
Three days, two themes
We were already familiar with hackathons after having organised similar 24-hour Hackdays earlier. Instead, organising a seminar event was completely new to both of us. As participants, however, we had sufficient experience and knew the ABCs of event production – surely it cannot be so very difficult! We set the attendance target at a hundred participants and decided to offer good remote participation access, like we usually do.
Then there was only the content part, ehm… now, what does it mean in practice?
The spectrum of Pinja’s technological knowhow and lines of business is so wide that it seemed impossible to offer something to everyone and yet so that all participants would find the day meaningful and understand what they’d hear. We decided to focus this time on software production and ICT services. This proved to be effective.
We still have a lot of time left…
The production was started before summer holidays by charting out things and booking facilities. We deluded ourselves into a feeling of satisfaction and remained on holiday to enjoy the hot summer. Then suddenly the holiday was over and we realised that we only had six weeks left to the event with a countless number of variables unconfirmed. Nevertheless, the project was all the time under control even though we didn’t necessarily always feel so.
Speakers were found among the best experts in technologies we use and specialists in our service products. As an external speaker and a Deep Dive sparring partner for the day, we got Customer Engineer Jussi Kyröhonka from Google. We also brought representatives of many of our new group members on stage, which excellently contributed to field level coordination of our companies.
After the registration deadline, we noticed that there had certainly been a sufficient demand: almost 150 registrations in an event dimensioned for 100 people! Sweat began to pour off our faces when we started to think about the sufficiency of facilities as well as many other new variables caused by this 50% growth. At the end, a stroke of good luck was also needed for the successful result.
The clock ticks, the air gets thicker with tension
For the last two weeks, we trained the event day in imagination several times together with the team trying to foresee various difficulties and surprises that we possibly could encounter. We kept the participants regularly informed and received the usual late registrations and cancellations up to the early event day. As the biggest change, we changed the facilities only two days before H-hour when a booking of a large auditorium was cancelled to our benefit.
This was the pinch of good luck we had longed for, now we could better fit the larger-than-expected group of participants in the auditorium. Seasonal influenza in the autumn and other unexpected obstacles forced us to make changes in the programme as late as the morning of the event day, but this is always a fact of life. We had our back-up plans for such surprises, thanks to the meticulous image training!
On the event day we were busy as bees, each of our team members knew their own tasks and completed them excellently. Stage anchoring, transitions, video streaming, photographing, panel discussions and conclusions went like clockwork. The schedule was kept and the arrangements and overall setting were praised by the participants. The event day was a success in all respects!
At the end of the day, a very cheerful group of seminar guests divided into those heading back home and those staying for the weekend hackathon. The event will undoubtedly not be the last of its kind. Next time, we will perhaps have courage to extend it to people outside our own staff, as it became evident that we are fully trained in the ABCs of event production!