HUSTEF 2018 – a reflection

HUSTEF 2018 – to be the programme chair was the most wonderful experience. This is the first big conference for which I have been the programme chair, building on my previous experiences as a programme committee member for 3 conferences and as the programme secretary for a special interest group.

The first thing I want to say is – if you get the chance to be on a programme committee or to be a programme chair – go for it! It is a lot of work, and tremendously rewarding – I learnt so much, and met interesting new people – my life has been enriched as a result of this experience.

Choosing a theme, setting out the call for papers and inviting a programme committee – these first steps before the Call for Papers (CFP) opened required thoughtful reparation; the theme needed to express some ideas I consider important, and also be inclusive to allow many people to join in as speakers and as participants. It needed to be something that could be interpreted in a broad way, to allow many topics. I realised I wanted diversity – diverse speaker backgrounds, diverse topics, diverse industry domains. Why? So that people could share knowledge across that diversity. And that gave me the theme: Sharing + Diversity + Knowledge.

The call for papers went out, after review by the excellent programme committee, and submissions started to come in. The review process was really interesting, with the reviewers sharing comments, with each other, and eventually with the potential speakers. The eventual choice was difficult – a linited number of places and some really good submissions. Some of the “runners up” we asked to provide “posters” – that is exactly what it sounds like – a poster to “advertise” their idea and encourage discussion. Selecting the keynotes and tutorials was also fun – with the help of suggestions from the programme committee I reached out not just to people I already knew but also to people new to me.

The work between the announcement of the programme and the actual conference – for yself – was to help speakers produce their best possible abstract for the website, and theirbest possible slide packs. Such a rewarding expereince to review, feedback and talk with so many experienced and aspiring speakers!  

And so – to the conference – I was so proud of all the speakers – keynote, tutorial, workshop, discussion leads, tracks and posters – great work, so many good presentations . And, from the review scores – the best scores the conference has ever received – great work by everyone! The conference itself was beautifully organised and run by Csilla, Tibor and their team, and Attila did a cracking job of organising the track chairs. Great AV team, great video team, lovely expo, wonderful catering… all exvcellent. During the conference I was on the go all the time – visitng different sessions, interviewing people for the conference video, aking sure everyone was OK.  went well! Doing the interviewing was particularly nerve racking and fun – I have never done that before, so… a new experience.

I’m pleased with what we achieved, delighted to have been part of it, and reflecting on lessons learned will carry on for weeks! 

If you are interested in HUSTEF, their website is here: HUSTEF