Thursday, March 3, 2022

Why would you be interested in building a tech community?

I was born and raised in Pakistan. I lost my father when I was 11 years old, and since then, I have been trying my best to fulfil the dream he envisioned for me (I love you, Baba!). I will always be thankful to my elders and still feel lucky to be one of the blessed people who got the opportunity to complete my studies at a graduate level.  Unfortunately, this is not the case for almost 80% of the youth in the country I belong. They can’t usually pursue their aspirations and one of the reasons is the lack of essential resources and connections to a global audience.

I always wanted to be the part of the community to learn more and more in short time, this led me to join Microsoft Dynamics Community in 2009 and since then I have been contributing to the community at different forums and sharing my experience with my personal blog AX + Dynamics 365 Library

I left my motherland in 2011; lived in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, and finally settled in Australia in 2015. Being active in the Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations community in the countries I lived in has created opportunities for me to share experiences with like-minded professionals, and this has been beneficial to my work life. My interactions with the community have allowed me to think out of the box and to learn best practices from fellow community members – all of which have contributed to my professional growth.

Being active in the community has also paved the way for me to grow my network – from tech enthusiasts who have been in the industry for years to those who are about to kickstart their career in Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.

The benefits I have enjoyed by being active in the Dynamics community have inspired me to consider how I could give back to the community in Pakistan. I believe I could open opportunities for them by providing a platform that will allow them to access and learn from fantastic professionals who work on a global scale. This is the reason I established the Pakistan User Group, and very recently, we have just marked a milestone in the community by hosting the second edition of Urdu Hindi Bootcamp – an event made possible through the support of the global community. The event ran for three days featuring over 70 speakers, some are home-grown talent from Pakistan and others are from the MVP community all over the world.

Running an event of this scale was not easy, especially during a pandemic. It required a lot of patience and organizational skills, as well as agility to adjust to the constant changes in schedules. With the COVID Delta variant taking its toll in different parts of the world, I as the organizer, was mindful of each speaker’s personal commitments and individual circumstances and in some cases, that meant they had to back out of the event last minute.

This experience has taught me important lessons about organizing an event, which has enriched my role as a community leader. I share them with the hope of inspiring other future community leaders so they can learn from my experience.

  • Set a definite time for submissions for Calls for Paper (CFPs) – Set a deadline for accepting CFPs to allow yourself sufficient time to plan and structure the event. You might also want to create a group of people who will help review and select speakers who will not only deliver top class content but also demonstrate the values important to you and the community.
  • Focus on quality content vs quantity of speakers – Limit the event to two days maximum and try to focus on having one track at a time. For example, if you have Finance Operations and Customer Engagement tracks, then run one track at a time. This gives you more control on checking and providing the quality contents to the audience.
  • Understand what the audience wants to learn – Having a vote on all submitted sessions does help you as an organizer to have a pulse of what the audience needs, giving them confidence that their feedback has been considered.
  • Provide incentives for students to participate in workshops – Offering sessions delivered in Urdu and Hindi made the event more appealing to students. Many local universities and students responded positively to these sessions, and it helped that we were able to provide giveaways as an extra incentive.
  • Secure sponsorship – Virtual events do incur an expense so plan accordingly. For this event, I hired professional video editors and website designers to make the event look professional. Also think about the moderators and volunteers – without them I could not even plan for such a big event. You need to consider how you could show your gratitude for their efforts. This is the reason securing a sponsor is crucial – they can help ameliorate the experience for all those working behind the scenes to make the event successful.
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