Wow, what an experience! I recently had the opportunity to attend the GSE UK conference, which is a part of Guide Share Europe and represents the UK Region. It was titled “Where Technology and Talent Meet Tomorrow.” The event was a four-day extravaganza, and believe it or not, it had over 600 people attending! We gathered at Whittlebury Hall in Towcester, and it was such a cool place for this techy event.
The thing that amazed me the most was how big and diverse this conference was. There were more than 280 sessions, and get this, nine super important people gave talks as the main speakers. Some of them were Mark Nelson, Mark Wilson, Steven Dickens, Brian Marshall, Phil Buckellew, April Hickel, Elpida Tzortzatos, and Greg Lotko. It was kind of like a knowledge festival with something for everyone!
The sessions covered all sorts of topics, from security and MQ to helping folks who are new to the Mainframe world (in the 101 and 102 sessions) and also how to develop applications. This report is all about sharing my perspective on this incredible event. So, come with me as we explore the “Where Technology and Talent Meet Tomorrow” conference and discover how this event impacted me and so many others.
In the lead-up to the GSE UK conference, I found myself in a whirlwind of excitement and anticipation. As a speaker for not one, but four, sessions, there was plenty on my plate to prepare for. I couldn’t help but feel both thrilled and a tad nervous about sharing my insights and experiences with the conference-goers.
My first session, titled “AI AI AI: What has Turing Started,” was scheduled in the brand new AI track. I was looking forward to diving into the world of artificial intelligence and discussing the incredible advancements that Turing’s work has ignited. The challenge here was to make complex ideas understandable to everyone, including fellow first-time visitors like me.
But the surprises didn’t end there. I was also tasked with the exciting responsibility of delivering the closing session for the AI track – a Jeopardy game! Creating a fun and engaging game that would leave participants buzzing with AI knowledge was an exhilarating challenge.
Now, switching gears, I had two more sessions lined up in the “Skills & Learning” track. One of them involved a real-world Capture the Flag on z/OS, a unique and hands-on experience that I was keen to share. The other was the Advent of Code “Lock and Load” session, which promised to be a call to action for this year’s Advent of Code (for Mainframers). My goal was to ensure that these sessions were informative and enjoyable for all participants.
In addition to my own sessions, I had the opportunity to explore the conference agenda at this link. I was on the lookout for sessions I could attend, both to learn and to connect with fellow enthusiasts. With so many tracks and sessions to choose from, I had quite the task ahead, but I was excited to discover new insights and ideas.
Being the co-chair for the AI track added another layer of responsibility. Alongside my partners in crime, Alzared and Zuhair, I had the honor of introducing the speakers in our track. It was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate and contribute to the smooth flow of the conference.
In the days leading up to the event, these preparations kept me busy and eager to be a part of “Where Technology and Talent Meet Tomorrow.” My hope was to make the most of this experience and share my newfound knowledge and insights with the community.
One of the true joys of the GSE UK conference was the chance to meet in person so many industry colleagues and friends I had only known virtually. While it would be impossible to list them all, let’s just say it was an incredible honor to put faces to the names and avatars that have been such a significant part of my professional life. This conference was a melting pot of industry experts and enthusiasts, making it a unique opportunity for networking and making valuable connections.
But let’s talk about the content—oh, the content! The conference offered a plethora of sessions, and while I couldn’t attend them all, the ones I did were nothing short of amazing. From the insightful keynotes to the hands-on workshops and panel discussions, every session seemed to offer something valuable. A particular highlight was Mark Nelson’s candid talk during the GSE After Hours sessions, where he shared his perspective on risk assessment. It was one of those moments that truly resonated with the audience.
And then there were the conference dinners. Brilliant doesn’t even begin to describe them. These gatherings provided a fantastic opportunity to engage in industry-related discussions and share personal anecdotes with some of the most influential figures in the Mainframe sphere. All of this, of course, happened over a few beverages, making for an unforgettable experience that allowed us to connect on both professional and personal levels.
In essence, the GSE UK conference was a treasure trove of connections, knowledge, and memorable experiences, making it a must-attend event for anyone in the Mainframe and technology industry.
Students and Educators:
A heartwarming aspect of the GSE UK conference was the presence of a vibrant and enthusiastic group of students and educators. Young minds from Wolverhampton University, and Bedfordshire University, and academics hailing from various corners of Europe graced the event with their energy and eagerness to engage in discussions and learning experiences.
Interacting with these aspiring students and dedicated educators was truly inspiring. It provided an opportunity to not only share knowledge and insights but also to sow the seeds for the future heroes of the Mainframe sphere. It was a fantastic platform for mentorship, where we could guide and nurture the next generation of professionals in this dynamic field.
Furthermore, the conference allowed us to collaborate with academics to plot and plan exciting future events. By working together, we could develop content that would captivate and educate students in the near future, ensuring that they enter the workforce well-prepared for the ever-evolving world of Mainframe technology.
The presence of students and educators at the conference was a testament to the industry’s commitment to fostering talent and ensuring a bright future for Mainframe technology.
Given the sheer number of attendees at the GSE UK conference, it came as no surprise that there was a strong presence of IBM Champions in the crowd. It was an absolute delight to connect with these distinguished individuals, who have made significant contributions to the technology and Mainframe community.
One of the standout moments was the incredible photo opportunity we had at the Formula One racing car. Capturing this unique moment with fellow IBM Champions was truly memorable and exemplified the sense of camaraderie and shared passion that permeated the conference.
A special shout-out goes to Shari Ciari, whose dedication and effort in bringing together the IBM Champions community did not go unnoticed. Shari ensured that we had the opportunity to meet, interact, and exchange ideas, fostering an environment of collaboration and knowledge sharing.
The presence of IBM Champions at the conference added an extra layer of expertise and enthusiasm to the event, reminding us of the incredible wealth of talent and dedication within the Mainframe and technology sphere.
Whether you were fortunate enough to attend the GSE UK conference in person or if you couldn’t make it this time, there’s something for everyone to take away from this incredible event.
For those who weren’t able to attend, I’d strongly recommend checking out the various social media channels and online resources to catch a glimpse of the vibrant atmosphere and valuable insights shared at the conference. The social media feeds are packed with photos, comments, and summaries that can give you a real feel for the event’s energy and the knowledge that was exchanged.
And for those who were there, it’s time to relive the exhilarating week we all shared at Whittlebury Hall. Scroll through the photos, revisit your notes, and reconnect with the people you met. The memories and the connections forged during this week are invaluable, and you can continue to build on them in the days and months to come.
A big shout-out and heartfelt gratitude go to all the organizers and the dedicated team at Whittlebury Hall. Their hard work and meticulous planning were instrumental in making this conference an unforgettable experience for all of us. They went above and beyond to ensure that everything ran smoothly and that we all had the best possible time.
As the conference draws to a close, the anticipation for the next year is already building. I can’t wait to see all of you again next year, as we come together to continue exploring the ever-evolving world of Mainframe technology, learning from one another, and making memories that will last a lifetime. Until then, let’s keep the conversation alive, share our insights, and prepare for another fantastic gathering at next year’s GSE UK Conference.
Henri Kuiper is a DevOps Engineer Mainframe-security at Belastingdienst. From early in his career, he worked his way up from a PL/1 Application Programmer to a full-fledged Systems Programmer on the z/OS platform and has since evolved into an all-around Enterprise IT specialist. He is the Founder and CEO of 'zdevops b.v.', a company with only one slogan: Keeping the "z" in Enterprise IT. Among his specialties is his ability to quickly adapt to changing or new situations.