I never planned to be an event planner, but I do have a lifelong history of entertaining in a big way. This was bred into me during my childhood as an expatriate in places like Dhaka, Bangladesh, where (in 1977) there wasn’t a lot for foreigners to do except invite each other to dinner parties, musicales, etc.
So I grew up assuming that getting a bunch of people together and letting them have fun was a normal thing to do, and worth the effort I put into it. I’ve seldom been disappointed in the results. During high school (an international residential school in India), I helped organize dorm open houses. In college, I threw dinner parties to which I invited students and professors, to the surprise of both. For my 21st birthday, with the help of my roommates, I had a big bash at my aunt’s place in the country outside Austin.
Whenever I’ve had space for it (and even when I haven’t), I have entertained. At home in Italy, Enrico and I were famous for our parties with “exotic” food (Indian, American, or barbecue) and live music (provided by Enrico and friends). Now that I’m living in a (shared) big house in suburban Colorado, I have (Italian) dinner and (Indian) movie nights for friends and colleagues.
As a very active alumna of Woodstock School, I’ve also been involved in the planning and execution of alumni events, and have learned a few hard lessons about how not to do this stuff. (Though I fear I will never learn not to over-order on food, but I guess it’s better to have too much than too little…)
The first big event I worked on that wasn’t strictly personal or school-related was vlogEurope 2006, held in Milan and on Lake Como. That was a lot of work, but I met or re-met a bunch of cool videoblogging folks, and enjoyed taking care of everybody and helping them to get more out of a part of the world that I know very well.
All this considered, it’s not surprising that part of the work I now do for Sun is event planning. My job is about community development, and one of the surest ways to make people bond is to get them together and feed them (along with generous libations, for those who partake). I’ve been working with developer communities, but also with others such as Girl Geeks.
I was part of the team that organized and ran the first Open Storage Summit in September, 2008, which was such a success that we followed it up with another one – with an even larger attendance – in February, 2009.
Sun likes to meet students who are our potential future (and current) users, customers, developers, and colleagues. So we’ve been experimenting with new ways to involve them in industry and community events.
The biggest event I’ve worked on so far was for the benefit of ~400 students who came from all over the world to attend SuperComputing ’08 in Austin. We threw a party for them with great food and great music, but also gave them the opportunity to meet with some of Sun’s HPC developers and marketers – in fact, the Sun folks in attendance were kept busy talking with students the entire night. (I kept busy ensuring the steady supply of barbecue, cupcakes, and entertainment.)
But, before that, there’s ISC09 in Hamburg, where we’re planning a Sun HPC workshop to kick off a coding competition, and, of course, a party. Suggestions are welcome on what kind of party and venue the students (probably mostly German) would enjoy.
And, even before that, there’s CommunityOne West in San Francisco, June 1-3. Watch this space for announcements!