Wednesday, 2 April 2014

UCISA14 part 2

You may have noticed a distinct lack of blogposts from UCISA last week - truth is, I was either too busy, too enthralled, or sitting on the stage chairing sessions - to take notes and post. So here's a summary of what I got from each sessions, as well as links to some of the talks which were recorded. This year we made a real effort to "up the game" of the conference, bringing in outside speakers and moving away from technology and towards leadership.

Clay Shirky is a very well respected american writer, educator and consultant on the social and economic effects of internet technologies - I've heard him speak a couple of times, and there are some excellent talks on the TED website of his.  Clay flew in to give his talk, and it was extremely thought provoking. He talked about IT becoming the central function in the HE enterpise as it already embedded in the way we live. IT is not just being asked to do more, but different things, and we may have to lead change without buy in from our senior managers.
Watch the talk - you'll enjoy it.

Simon Fanshawe is a writer, broadcaster, stand up comedian, founder of Stonewall and describes himself as a Provocateur with a Purpose. He's been working with us here in Sheffield on our equality objectives, and dos a lot of work with organisations on why diversity matters, and how it produces better performing teams. It was an entertaining talk - getting your lovers knickers off in the first few
minutes - but full of really good content. My take home moment, possibly of the conference was - "don't appoint the best person for the job". In fact, never appoint the best person for the job. Appoint the best person for the team. Some interesting HR issues around this one, especially with job specs etc.
Again, the talk was recorded and its well worth a watch.

Vorsprung durcht Technik was the unusual title of a talk given by our own Heidi Fraser-Krauss,
Director of IT Services at York University, and Professor Thomas Krauss, Professor of Photonics at York University. Think it was the first married couple double act we've had at UCISA, and I was hoping that we didn't witness another conscious uncoupling. Luckily we didn't, but we did see a great role play of an IT director trying to deal with a very excited research professor. Anyone who has to deal with academics should watch this!

The final talk on Thursday was from Professor Sue Black, Computer Scientist, founder of the campaign to save Bletchley Park, recently voted Inspirational Woman of the year, and a champion for women in computing. She gave a potted life history, from leaving school and 16, through being a watch here. One of my favourite bits was about her campaign to save Bletchley Park, where Stephen Fry retweeted one of her tweets really showing the power of social media.
single mum of three children, to getting back into education and becoming an academic. Truly inspiring. She's recently formed Savvify, a social enterprise which is currently running techmums - a programme to get mums to be more tech savvy. Another great talk which you can watch here.

Thursday night was the conference dinner, where I had the honour of sitting with John Lloyd who was our after dinner speaker. John was the producer of Spitting Image, Blackadder and QI to name
just a few. Fascinating chatting to him about possibly bringing Spitting Image back - can you imagine Boris's puppet? he gave a great afterdinner talk - so funny, and quoting some great bits from the meaning of Lif, which he co wrote with Douglas Adams. Of course, there was the obligatory selfie.....

Friday morning strarted with Simon Mingay from Gartner talking about Service Porfolios. I've heard Simon to do this talk before, and blogged about it - excellent talk as alwyas, but not recorded.

Next up was Dave Coplin from Microsoft talking about the Future World of Work - excellent presenter and thought provoking talk about how our working lives and environments might look in the future. Also what skills our students and children might need to succeed. He's written a book - Business Reimagined - which is free to download for the kindle edition.A good soundbite from this - its not emails fault we get too many emails. It's ours for not using it properly. Do watch the talk if you get chance - there's lots of really good stuff in it.

Final two talks of the day weren't recorded so you can't watch them - first was from Linda Davidson, now a Global CIO but started life as an actress (you might remember her as Mary the Punk from Eastenders) who had some fascinatng insights into leadership:
She started with a great video predicting what technology might look like from the 1960s - love the bit about the husband paying!

Finally, we closed the conference with a talk from Alex Hunter who was responsible for getting Virgin America off the ground and then became head of Virgin Online talking about how to engage with customers, how to build a relationship with them, how to create a fantastic use experience with the wow factor. Couldn't record this, but there's a number of clips on YouTube of him speaking if you want to look him up, and his website has one of his good examples of customer service and how he fell in love with Pact Coffee.

Though I say it myself, it was one of the best UCISA conferences, and the difficult part starts now - how do we follow it next year?

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