Tracking the tracks at Tech Ed New Zealand


Behind the scenes at Tech Ed New Zealand 2007: Darryl Burling

, posted: 9-Aug-2007 19:04

Of a lot of people I know at Microsoft (New Zealand and Corp) Darryl Burling is a special person.

Before joining Microsoft he was, like myself, a Microsoft MVP (Mobile Devices). Only a couple of years after we met he joined Microsoft and we still enjoy, every week, a coffee together at Cafe Astoria on my weekly coffee meetings there.

He's also one of the guys behind the Microsoft Tech Ed New Zealand 2007, with the interesting title of "Content Owner".

In this blog post we have a quick chat about what is behind working on Tech Ed:

What is the Content Owner figure at Tech Ed? What do you do?
The content owner is responsible for all the tracks, sessions and speakers at Tech Ed. Long before tickets go on sale, its my job to figure out what tracks we will have, how many sessions will be in each track and then assign owners for each track. Along the way I get to ensure that all the track owners have what they need and serve as an escalation point for problems and roadblocks they come across.

Once the speakers are sorted, I get to ensure that when (not if) speakers pull out they are managed appropriately and new ones are recruited. As we organize the Australian and New Zealand Tech Ed events together it’s my job to decide which of the sessions will be in New Zealand and which won’t. In addition to all this, I also owned the Web track this year (i.e. got all the speakers, etc).

How much work was involved in managing your tasks and how long before the Tech Ed 2007 you started doing it?
We started in early February this year. The amount of work starts easy and slowly takes over your (work) life as the event gets closer. This week has been pretty mild, but the last few have been hectic. I’ve had up to 200 or more emails a day managing all the last minute bits and pieces, and this while I’m traveling to the U.S. and around New Zealand. It’s been insanely busy – and this year we were well organized...

How many people are coming to speak at Tech Ed?
This year we have around 115 speakers doing a total of 140 sessions (including lunchtime sessions).

And how many people are coming to attend the Tech Ed?
We have around 2200 delegates and around 300 crew, caterers, exhibitors, and other people at the event – so around 2500 total.

Do you know everyone coming to speak? It must be a great phone book?
No. I’d be impressed if I could remember all their names. I have had some sort of correspondence with around 70% of the speakers. I’ve done all the correspondence with the guys in the Web Track – and I’ve corresponded directly to all the speakers from New Zealand and most of the Aussies – so I know most of them.

How do you select the speakers? Recommendations, previous engagement? What someone needs to do to be considered for a speaking slot in a next Tech Ed?
We start by assigning the sessions we want covered. Then we look for program and product managers in these areas. These guys & gals know the most about their products and are generally keen to get the word out and drive adoption. We also look for speakers from previous events such as Mix and Tech Ed in the U.S. as well. This year we aimed to have 80% of our speakers from the U,S. – we knew we’d never get there (quite) but we aren’t too far off in most tracks. Any gaps we fill with local speakers (local being both Australia and New Zealand).

Do you attend the Tech Ed Party or are you too tired by then?
(Here’s a line lots of people would like to be able to use) – It’s my job to be there! And I’m looking forward to it. I always enjoy meeting people at the Tech Fest party – its always great fun!

How many people are involved in organizing the event?
Hmmm… Lots. There is the team at Avenues, the team at Staging Connections doing the technical work (lighting, PCs, networks, etc), Intergen doing the Hands on Labs, lots of people from SkyCity itself, plus the PR company (Text100), lots of Microsofties manning doors, etc, the track owners (around 15 of them including secondaries) and pretty much everyone in the DPE team doing something (Nigel is in charge of the Keynote, Mike is in charge of HOLs, Mark and Mike did the VOC track, Paul and Ryan in charge of Student day, Dean owns the PR and lots of the messaging, Sean is tossing in all the bits we overlook and Rob covers for all the operational work we need to do. The one person who holds all this together is the absolutely amazing Carol – this event is the well oiled machine that it is because of her.

What causes the most work for you?
Speakers pulling out at the last minute. We had nearly an entire track pull out three weeks before the event.

Is this the only thing happening?
Actually not. There are about 25 events related to Tech Ed happening just before, during or immediately after - including the Tech Ed Party, an Architects event, a VIP dinner, speakers' dinner, Women in Technology dinner, .Net Code Camp and more.




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Other related posts:
Loke Uei Tan talks to us about Windows Mobile 6.5 at Microsoft Tech.Ed New Zealand 2009
Ben Gracewood at Tech.Ed New Zealand 2009: revenge of the booth babes
Booth Babes at Tech.Ed New Zealand 2009






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Microsoft Tech Ed New Zealand is a technology event run by Microsoft New Zealand. The Microsoft Tech Ed New Zealand 2010 is happening in Auckland (New Zealand), 30th August - 1st September 2010, at the SkyCity Convention Centre. If you are attending the Microsoft Tech Ed New Zealand 2010 and would like to contribute with stories, profiles, and feedback please contact us. This blog is written by Mauricio Freitas and published by Geekzone.



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