OAUG president: Collaborate 2015 confab peaked with networking

In a Q&A, OAUG president Melissa English discusses her passion for mingling with attendees at the 2015 Collaborate conference and how Oracle users old and new can learn from each other.

Melissa English is the president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) and the global change management lead at Alticor Inc. and its Amway multi-level marketing subsidiary. At Collaborate 15, a conference held jointly in Las Vegas by Oracle's three biggest user groups, SearchOracle caught up with English to get her thoughts about the conference, how it differs from Oracle OpenWorld, and the ongoing opportunities to meet and network with OAUG members.

What are you hoping to bring back home from the Collaborate 2015 conference?

Melissa English: I do go to the sessions to learn new features, new functions, how people are dealing with similar situations that we might have. [But] the most value I get from the conference is from networking. Not only do I get a chance to reconnect with people I've known for years, but I also reach out and make new connections -- and sometimes it's a connection where I can help the other person, and sometimes I can gain information from the other person. I just find it so invaluable. It's just amazing how much just coming off an elevator with a certain person -- if you strike up the right conversation -- how much you can really learn and gain from just a brief five-minute conversation walking down the hall. So, one of things I actually encouraged the members [to do]  was to reach out to someone new, at least one person new each day, because I really believe the networking part can help them so much in addition to the learning opportunities that they have here.

Melissa English

What has made the Collaborate 2015 event different from other years?

English: One thing that is really taking off this year is our Young Professionals Forum. We started that last year. The one message I really want to get out about the Young Professionals Forum is that the name kind of says it's for younger people or [those who are] new to the Oracle applications, but we don't want to limit it to any age criteria. It's an opportunity for people to mentor others. We would like seasoned professionals and young, new professionals to be included in this group. It's a great opportunity for someone who's never done mentoring before to say, "Let me try out mentoring." This young professionals group is a good way to do that. You can start giving some tips and tricks that maybe you wished you knew when you started your career. It's a great opportunity for mentoring and providing back into a community that is just now starting onto their Oracle path and journey and helping them understand the best way to go through that journey.

Where do you stand on OpenWorld versus Collaborate?

English: I think the difference is Oracle's conference is very focused on the roadmap that's ahead, what strategy Oracle is moving toward. Collaborate is about the users and how they're getting to take advantage of those strategies and roadmaps and everything else Oracle is offering to the community. I think users really find value and benefit from hearing from other users and how their experiences can help them navigate through lessons learned easier and know which direction to go in when they find similarities between the companies. That really helps them understand which direction they should go in. I think that's the real difference between the two conferences. Both are very valuable, just depending on what you need right now. Do we need the roadmap and strategy, or do we need to better understand how we get to reach that strategy or that roadmap point?

Jessica Sirkin is associate site editor of SearchOracle. Email her at [email protected] and follow us on Twitter: @SearchOracle.

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