Tuesday, May 28, 2013 11:55 AM
This week in Mississauga, the DevTeach conference is celebrating its 10 year anniversary. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend this year, but I wanted to share my thoughts on what this conference has meant to me and to the Microsoft development community in Canada. In fact, let me start off with a bold statement:
The emergence and success of the Canadian Microsoft user group community over the last decade is due, in large part, to DevTeach.
Let me tell you why.
DevTeach Connected Community Leaders
When I look at the people I’ve met over the years and come to call colleagues and friends, DevTeach was the catalyst for our initial meetings. Part of this was due to DevTeach’s long standing commitment to community by hosting the annual User Group Leader’s Summit and providing a free pass to each user group so they could have representation.
I remember my first meeting with Don Belcham and having dinner at a nearby sportsbar in Montreal, meeting Gary Pronych in Vancouver and the infamous One Tooth picture (a good-natured jab at him being from Regina), and it was because of DevTeach that Ted Neward and I greet each other with a kiss on the cheek – which also led to the hilarious “Hey, that’s not D’Arcy” story where Ted thought Dan Nerenberg was me. Speaking of Dan, it was DevTeach where he (my “twin”) and I first met.
I could go on about the people I’ve connected with at DevTeach and many who I still continue talking to regularly to this day. Through those connections we created many opportunities for our technology communities: sharing speakers on user group tours, recommending speakers, putting people in touch with leadership of different communities, etc. As an example, we had Roy Osherove do a user group tour, and the only reason we were able to pull it off is that he was in Canada for DevTeach which covered the largest part of his transportation cost.
If it wasn’t for DevTeach providing a way for the community to come together, many of those relationships may not have started and many opportunities for the development community would have been missed.
DevTeach Groomed Canadian Tech Speakers (And Still Does)
I got my first big speaking opportunity at DevTeach. Sure I’d done user groups before, but DevTeach gave me my first big-conference speaking opportunity. It did so for many others who are now well known and well respected experts who speak often. There were always the big name draws who were slotted in, but there was always a bend towards looking for new talent to feature as well. Over the years, DevTeach has been a proving grounds for presenters who would go on to speak at other conferences and community events across Canada and around the world.
DevTeach Endured Through Difficult Times
When the recession hit and training budgets dried up, DevTeach felt that pain. When Microsoft TechDays started to run in cities across Canada, including cities DevTeach had traditionally been held in, DevTeach felt that pain too. Yet through it all, DevTeach endured. I think this goes back to the strong community support the conference fostered – nobody wanted to see DevTeach go under. It’s been a few years now, and Canada has weathered through the financial storms better than most countries; TechDays no longer runs and was wound-down by Microsoft. Yet DevTeach is still going, and still upholding its community values.
DevTeach is really Jean-René Roy
I’ve been saying DevTeach a lot in this blog post, but really you can substitute that for Jean-René Roy. JR has been the heart and soul of the conference since he started it a decade ago. It’s because of his commitment to, and the value he sees in, community that the leadership summit happens. It’s his want to produce new and better speaking talent that he allows up and comers a shot right next to the seasoned big-names. It’s him that has endured to ensure DevTeach hasn’t come to an end.
Let me re-phrase my initial comment:
The emergence and success of the Canadian Microsoft user group community over the last decade is due, in large part, to Jean-René.
Congratulations Jean-René on 10 Years of DevTeach!
JR, congrats on hitting such an incredible milestone! 10 years not just of hosting a conference, but of investing in the Canadian developer community and giving us an opportunity to make so many incredible connections and memories, is an amazing feat that we all are incredibly grateful to you for!