Support Services Conference Planning for 2014

Crewe HallThis week I have been back to the lovely and awe-inspiring Crewe Hall Hotel with some of my UCISA colleagues to plan the next Support Services Conference scheduled for 2-4 July 2014.

It really doesn’t seem so long since July when we were enjoying ourselves in Edinburgh both on campus at the John McIntyre Centre and off campus (climbing Arthur’s Seat) but time marches on and following a couple of years contributing to this annual event, namely by delivering a Pecha Kucha session, facilitating a couple of discussion sessions and talking about our Edge Hill experience obtaining the Customer Services Excellence award (with five Compliance Plus elements), it’s time for a different challenge: Joining the Conference Committee.

Now then, in the past I have enjoyed contributing to the fringes of the conference discussions from the security of the UCISA group, suggesting various ideas ranging from discussion topics to vegetarian menu options safe in the knowledge that they were only ideas. This time it’s different – and it includes responsibility for delivery. In my normal role, as IT Customer Services Manager at Edge Hill, I am comfortable with both aspects of delivery and responsibility – delivery of a service and taking responsibility for the same. But conference organisation … that’s definitely well outside of my comfort zone.

I learned that we have to identify potential speakers and balance them with break-out sessions, sponsors’ showcases, comfort breaks, lunch menus, networking opportunities, pecha kucha sessions, after dinner speakers and discussion groups. On top of that there are the session chairs to sort out, the meet-and-greeters, the room planning the housekeeping and the AV. Phew!

Crewe Hall is an unusual and beautiful venue for a conference. The feedback from the last time we visited in 2012 was superb. All the facilities are close together in a wonderfully historic and atmospheric building. There is the luxury of the leisure centre facilities for the energetic amongst us and the fabulous revolving cocktail bar for the adventurous (I highly recommend their Chocolate Orange Cocktail). The Great Hall where the drinks reception before the conference dinner is held is a truly remarkable room and as for the old bedrooms … Wow!

There are many things that we need to plan over the next few months. Today we left with an idea of the structure and the timings of each event and a pretty good idea of who we would be inviting to speak. This time we are going to be seeking potential attendees views before the event – we want to know what you’d like to discuss; what entertainment you would enjoy after the conference dinner and we’ll be looking for questions and topics for some of the discussion sessions we are planning. We really want it to be YOUR conference so that you get the most from it. So if you haven’t done so before, please think about participating whether it be suggesting a discussion topic or delivering a fully-fledged pecha kucha session which really and truly is great fun despite what you might think 

Of course, we’ve all been to these kind of events before and when they run smoothly and to plan it seems like they are effortless. Please spare a thought for the people who devote their time and effort into the planning. I know I will.

Jenny Jordan
Customer Services Manager
IT Services
Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, Lancashire

A bit about me:

Jenny JordanAs part of my role, I manage the IT Service Desk where we focus on resident students IT enquiries (other than first line enquiries which are generally directed to the library), 2nd line student enquiries and staff IT issues. We support BYOD and will help any authorised users connect their device to the wireless. We use RMS as our Service Management tool and we are doing our best to increase our profile and, therefore, promote our service portfolio to the business which consists of Faculties and Support Departments. I have been a member of UCISA since 2010. My first language is English and my second is IT Speak. You can contact me on the comments form below.

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