Monday, 16 March 2009
Strictly not Skydiving
Still catching up on posts from last week's UCISA conference - sorry - am normally more up to date than this! AGM came and went, and I was elected Chair for the next two years. Should have spotted it coming really, what with being Vice-Chair for the last two. Busy couple of years ahead.
Thursday evening's dinner was at the splendid St George's Hall in the Great Hall - a beautiful room, recently restored. The Hall boasts a magnificent organ, and we were treated to an organ recital by non other than our Treasurer, Iain Stinson. An excellent start, and followed by some inter course entertainment from Grafitti Classics, a lively fun string quartet who danced as well as played. They even got John Sergeant clapping - yes, the Strictly Come Dancing Star was our after-dinner speaker, and very funny he was too. Tales of Downing Street, Margaret Thatcher, Alistair Campbell and Tony Blair. Very nice man - sat and had a drink with us in the bar afterwards which is most unusual for celebrities who don't normally want to mix.
I soon discovered a downside to being the new Chair, as I had to chair the morning session, which involved getting up early, checking all the arrangements were OK, introducing the speakers and sitting on the stage during the session. No dropping off for a quick nap. Actually staying awake was easy, as we had three very good speakers. Robina Chatham began by giving us 10 things to take away and improve our standing in the organisation - how we can evolve the role of Chief Technology Officer into Chief Transformation Officers.
Simon Mingay from Gartner gave a very thorough talk on sustainable IT - lots of practical things we can be doing, not just to reduce the carbon footprint in IT, but how we can use IT to reduce the impact of other services and activities across the University.
Finally, the conference closed with a motivational talk from Robin Sieger. Based on personal experiences, including recovering from cancer, running a marathon in a kilt wearing no underwear, and making a skydive to conquer his fear of heights, Robin delivered an inspiring talk on how to achieve success. I must admit, as someone who is scared of both heights and flying, watching the video of him climbing on the wing of the plane to make his skydive had me trembling!
An excellent conference as always - thanks to everyone in the UCISA office and to Graham for chairing the Conference Committee so well.