For the past two weeks, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to be part of the COMMON Europe Power of i Roadshow. I attended and presented at events in Nyborg Denmark, Vienna, Lisbon, Brussels and Luxembourg. My coworker, Tim Rowe, has been doing presentations in other cities within Europe as part of this COMMON Europe event.
COMMON Europe is a bit different than COMMON as we know it here in the U.S. In the U.S, we have a major spring conference and a smaller fall conference; COMMON also supports other educational opportunities such as Webcasts.
While there’s a general COMMON Europe organization and an annual conference (called the CEC - COMMON Europe Conference), each country is also responsible for education to its COMMON members. As such, you’ll note on the COMMON Europe home page that there are links to the various countries and their COMMON organizations and events.
COMMON Europe, like COMMON U.S., also has an advisory council that meets with IBM on an ongoing basis. A key component of both of these advisory councils is working with IBM on future plans and requirements for Power Systems and IBM i.
I'd like to share the highlights and interesting points of this trip; most of this information is actually not technical, so enjoy the break from my usual technical writings.
Nyborg, Denmark. Nyborg is a small community west of Copenhagen. It was in beautiful fall color when I arrived – which was nice since the fall colors had already past in Rochester. The meeting was very well attended and was an all-day event. I think the highlight of the day was the last hour when Richard Moller Nielsen talked about coaching the 1992 Danish football team to the European Championship. I couldn't understand what was said, but it was very clear from the audience that his talk was very entertaining.
Vienna, Austria. The event in Vienna was very small with just two of us each giving one presentation. However, COMMON in Austria has been active in having ongoing events each month, so they don't always get a large attendance for each event. My highlight in Vienna was getting a little bit lost the next morning! I was out wandering some of the side streets looking for a nice, quiet place for a small breakfast, when I realized I didn't know where I was …. and I didn't have a map along! I did some careful backtracking and found my way to familiar territory, but it left me with little time to enjoy the leisurely breakfast I had hoped. Lesson learned: ALWAYS bring a map.
Lisbon, Portugal. My time in Lisbon ended up being not at all as planned! It turned out that there were two events scheduled for the same day; one in Lisbon with IBM i customers, and one in Tomar with Power Systems business partners. At the last minute, they decided to combine the two events into one. Of course, that was the right thing to do, but it also meant that I was reworking my presentations to be more general at the very last minute! What was wonderful about the event in Tomar was the team-building session that started the day; rather than all-day meetings, the first 90 minutes was spent in small groups of about six on sort of a scavenger hunt, looking for specific things around the town or some information about IBM. While 90 minutes wasn't enough time to complete the activity, it was a very good way to get acquainted with some of the other people attending the meeting. Perhaps we should think about activities like this more often. One other point about the event in Portugal is that COMMON Europe does not have a presence in Portugal at this time; there’s an attempt being made to change this, however.
Brussels, Belgium. The event in Brussels was my busiest with three presentations. It was sort of “Dawn May Day.” The audience was again rather small, but very attentive with excellent questions and discussions outside of the presentation time. While in Brussels, I was taken to probably the best restaurant I’ve ever visited – La Maison du Cygne. It was amazing! I also discovered I really like Belgium chocolate. I’ve never been much of a chocolate lover, but even the free little chocolates they had at the IBM Forum location were wonderful!
Luxembourg, Luxembourg. Luxembourg turned out to be an easy day! Giving the same presentations for the third time makes things easier, of course. What I found interesting about the audience for this event though was it was entirely men – not one single woman. During a couple other events, we had some brief conversations about the difficulty in getting European women interested in technology, but all the other events did have one or two women in the audience. It's a good thing I’m not bothered by being in the minority!
Overall, this was a fantastic trip and I'm honored to have had to opportunity to participate in these events. Everyone was very hospitable and friendly, and I would like to thank those who took the time to show me sights and share information about their wonderful cities.