From the ‘its-quite-arguably-to-late-to-be-‘blogging’-about-this file’, here’s a cool story from a couple of years ago that I wanted to share.
Back in January of 2013, my company, T4G put on a conference called the ‘Big Data Congress’. It was the first of two such events that I’ve now been fortunate enough to have played a part in. I’ve written about the 2014 event, BDCII, here if you’re interested in checking out that post. T4G’s VP of Marketing, Cathy Simpson, the original ‘architect’ and primary event planner of both events posted about the inaugural event on her blog – here.
As these events were able to draw attendees into the multiple hundreds, with many attendees coming in from out of town, we were able to create a bit of economic activity for local restaurants, hotels etc – for a day two. As such, T4G was later nominated by Hospitality Saint John for an award at their year end awards gala in a ‘meetings and events’ category.
In addition to that nomination, each of the nominees were able to nominate an individual from their organization or organizing committee for their efforts in the planning and execution of the events. A couple days before the awards, T4G’s Cathy Simpson, who I reported into in my project/event management roll notified me that she had nominated me in this category and submitted the following story in doing so.
Check it out. It really hits the nail on the head in terms of all of the goings-on back when we were pulling this event together. Very cool indeed!
Hospitality Saint John – The Meeting and Events Award
Top Volunteer: Evan Sommerville, T4G Big Data Congress
We brought 500 people to the Port of Saint John, 20+ world class speakers and 20+ amazing sponsors to ensure the event was a success and yes, it was in January when the temperatures were frigid.
Planning a major conference is a bit like having a baby: there are a million little things to do before it arrives and there’s no turning back once it starts. No one knows this better than T4G’s Evan Sommerville.
Evan was the T4G project manager for T4G’s inaugural Big Data Congress, a one-day event held January 25th, 2013 that introduced a sold-out crowd of 500 to the power and potential of data science for the Maritimes. Evan is a project manager, which means he manages large, multi-team projects for many of our clients at T4G.
Evan while very familiar with project management for software projects, he had never been an event project manager. But he signed up without hesitation and did so very early into the planning. So early in fact, we didn’t have a date yet. When we did set the date – January 24th, 2013 – Evan took a deep breath and still said yes. He already had that date in his head because it was days before his pregnant wife was due to deliver their second child.
It wasn’t an easy pregnancy and with a toddler at home, Evan balanced the needs of his family and his busy work schedule with the very large task of keeping track of all the speakers, sponsors, logistics, supplies and deadlines connected with T4G’s big event. That meant Evan worked through lunch, worked through the evenings after getting his 4 year old daughter to bed and often had to turn on the laptop on the weekend. This was an all hands on deck assignment.
Evan was the calm center in the midst of the flurry of planning and executing this major event. He kept track of all our notes, records and communications within the company and with all of the other stakeholders. A typical day for Evan would include taking notes during a planning meeting, calling around for quotes on linens or extra chairs, liaising between suppliers we retained to help with event production, ensuring speakers arrangements were taken care of and tracking to our budget. He did it all with a smile, with a kind word to the people he worked with and an assurance that everything was going to get done.
While he did this, he would touch base with his wife throughout the day and as her pregnancy progressed and as the doctor appointments increased, Evan would quietly slip out to be with her. As we got closer to January 25th we joked around the office that it would be interesting to see what arrived first, the conference or the baby. In those final 72 hours, none of us were sure, not even Evan.
In the end it was Big Data that arrived first, and Evan was there through it all, smiling – and prepared for anything. While his wife had her hospital stay supplies, Evan made us a BDC emergency kit, which contained all the information stored in his brain. Was he worried? Of course. Nervous? Certainly! We all knew Evan might have to leave at a moment’s notice.We were all ready for that baby’s arrival, and when a happy and healthy baby boy did arrive just days later, it was an extra special celebration, because we knew how hard his dad had worked before his arrival.
The Big Data Congress was certainly a big effort. None of us had ever planned an event of this magnitude before and certainly not in the heart of the winter at 2 cruise ship terminals! Evan provided all of us with the project management support we required and now he’s at it again. Big Data Congress II is February 24th and 25th, 2014 in Saint John and Evan is back at it as the event project manager. This time, no babies arriving are on the project plan.