Organising our first conference at Gofore [EN]

Gonference

Gonference 2018 logo

On Ascension day earlier this year we held the first internal conference event at Gofore in Tampere, Finland. Traditionally in Finland Ascension Day has been a public holiday but this year it was a ’normal working day‘ at Gofore. We decided that this former public holiday would be perfect for an event where colleagues could share their expertise in a safe and relaxing environment. The event was called ‚Gonference‘ and we had two teams: the organising and the technical team. The organising team’s main responsibility was to plan what kind of conference to hold. The technical team’s main responsibility was to plan what audio and video equipment would be used at the event.

In January, Jarno Virtanen and some others were gathering people together to organise our first internal conference at Gofore. We wanted to gather our colleagues together in the same place to share experiences and ideas because sharing knowledge over project boundaries is very important in a company like Gofore.

The recruitment post in Slack

Brainstorming

During spring we had a few organising team meet-ups and we called on our colleagues for speakers for the event – finally, we made the decision that the Gonference would be 4 hours long and contain three different tracks: DevDevOps and Design&Leadership. The technical team brainstormed setups for each track and chose Bright Finland Oy as the supplier for some of the audio and video equipment. We also decided that all technical equipment would be installed one day before Gonference so we would have time to get stuff set up and any sort out any problems.

So decisions about the nature of the event, the place and the equipment required were made. Before the Gonference, the track hosts matched speakers with their presentations and other organisers were producing posters and carrying out other general tasks while the technical team gathered more people as helping hands. The technical team also held learning sessions with volunteers who wanted to learn how the live streaming works.

Second detailed training session about streaming audio and video

The Gonference day

On the Gonference day, we had a very positive atmosphere and everyone was aiming for the same goal – having a great learning event. In the morning organisers were checking that the tracks had all equipment and seats were in place. The event started at 12:50 with an overview of the day’s ambitious schedule. We also arranged two longer breaks during the day where we had some refreshments for all attendees.

In the Dev-track the speeches contained talks about Jakarta EE, microservice architecture, Rust, etc. The DevOps-track topics were about serverless infrastructure, Netflix OSS microservices stack, secure design, designing high-performance applications, etc. And the Design&Leadership-track contained topics like Design Sprints, technology with culture, designing against the norms, etc. Overall we had 18 presentations in our 4-hour conference.

On the next day, we started to collect feedback from the audience and we got positive comments and many ideas about how we could do it differently next year. The organisers also held a retrospective where we collected feedback from an organisers point of view.

the show

The first speech in Dev-track at Gonference

Last thoughts

The Gonference was a great learning session for all of us. From an organisers‘ point of view, it was a huge success as the first big event in Gofore. This was a first time for many of us. For some speakers, it was the first time on the stage and they performed superbly! For some of the organisers, it was also the first time that they had organised this kind of event, but everyone was full of enthusiasm! The organising and technical teams were awesome and the event went off with high quality and professionalism. All of the teams showed huge enthusiasm and willpower to make this a successful event. We especially want to thank Bright Finland Oy for renting us audio and video equipment and they also gave great support to us!

We wanted to keep this conference as a private event as we were all were learning new things. The most important reason was that we wanted to offer a safe learning environment where everyone can participate without any judgement. However, we are now looking at possibly sharing some of the Gonference talks on our Youtube channel so check it out.

This was our first internal conference at Gofore and we managed to raise the bar high for the next event. At Gofore anyone can organise an internal or a public event if they want to and following the success of Gonference we anticipate many more events in the future.

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