Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MONSUG the Magnificent!

Sitting back at my desk in Toronto, I can't help but wish I was still in beautiful Montréal. There's something magical about that city... whether it's the warm people or the wonderful food, I find myself consistently sad to leave. I suppose it's a Québec thing moreso than simply a Montréal phenomenon: I recall being just as wistful when departing Québec City a week ago! Ah well, at least I'll have one more chance to visit Montréal on December 1st for the Forum analytique d'affaires SAS de Montréal so I suppose I shouldn't complain. You'll find the agenda for that meeting - featuring Vice-President of Credit Risk Data Solutions at CIBC, Mr. Rick Miller, reprising his incredible 'Supercharged Analytics' talk from last year's SAS Global Forum - on the link I just provided.

Meanwhile, I have stories to tell of MONSUG!

The meeting was extremely well attended considering that the executive committee and I were forced to settle on a Monday morning due to venue availability. Almost 100 individuals turned up for a fantastic morning of conversation and presentations. Éric Lacombe and Mathieu Gaouette are the two gentlemen who do such a fantastic job of maintaining the MONSUG website, finding and supporting local guest speakers and helping to spread the message about the meeting to their contacts in the Montréal community: and it truly is a community in every sense of the word. Allow me to illustrate by referencing yesterday's meeting.

Éric and Mathieu made themselves completely accessible to the community by MCing the meetings and working at the registration desk. I watched the two of them greet colleagues and acquaintances from a whole host of industries and SAS environments as old friends. It was great to see people connecting through the common bond of SAS once again! The camraderie and open conversation between the SAS community and the many representatives of SAS Canada who were on hand put an exclamation mark on the sense of collaboration which clearly exists between SAS users and SAS employees.

This sense of collaboration really came to bear during the meeting itself. I need to single out Rupinder Dhillon of Toronto for really stepping up to the plate at a difficult time during the meeting. Some confusion around the MONSUG meeting date meant that our keynote speaker was unavailable: we needed to deliver a valuable presentation to the room, we had an hour of agenda time to fill, and we needed to figure out what to do over the break.

'No problem', said Rupinder.

Fortunately I had a presentation I've previously delivered at other user group meetings on the topic of formatting and reporting using Enterprise Guide on my machine. Working quickly during the break, Rupinder began tweaking the data in order to demonstrate both how to move older EG presentations to a newer version as well as how to take advantage of parameters within EG 4.3 to facilitate users accessing the right type and amount of data in the most efficient way possible. Within 30 minutes, a new presentation had been born! Unbelievably impressive. This willingness to step into the breach is partially why Rupinder won the Customer Value Award last year: nominations are now being accepted for NEXT year, might I add! I'm looking forward to getting one lucky individual down to this year's SAS Global Forum in Las Vegas from April 4-7th.

I would also like to take a moment to salute Nadia King of the Banque Laurentienne. She delivered her first ever presentation, and to glowing reviews, might I add! I couldn't tell she was a novice at public speaking and given the reaction of the audience, nor could they. Great job, Nadia! I hope we can see more presentations from you moving forward.

You'll find the presentations from the MONSUG meeting on their website within the next week or so. If you weren't able to attend, I invite you to join us for the spring meeting. We already have a few presenters lined up to deliver some incredibly interesting talks. Once we have full details around the date and agenda, you'll be able to find information in the MONSUG LinkedIn group, Facebook group and of course, on the MONSUG site itself.

Special thanks to both presenters and to both executive committee members. Adversity was overcome and the attendees left happy which is always the most important goal! I'm very much looking forward to my return to Montréal for my last road trip of the year in about a month's time.

In the meantime the blog posts will be coming fast and furious over the next few days. I have lots to tell you about. Next week features 4 separate meetings spread from one of the country to the next. I'll be in Victoria and Vancouver for their respective meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday and flying home to facilitate the Health Users Group meeting here in Toronto next Thursday. My colleague Kerry will be attending her first solo user group meetings in Ottawa at the same time: you're in great hands Kerry, the Ottawa groups are incredibly well organized and full of wonderful people. The following week, my manager Wally will be attending the Halifax meeting which is rapidly growing in attendance... what a flurried frenzy of frenetic activity! I wouldn't have it any other way.

Until next time...

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