Imagine driving in a foreign country at night with no GPS and half a tank of gas in the pouring rain. And you have to reach your destination before sunrise. That’s a little like how it felt when COVID-19 turned our 2020 plans upside down, and we raced into the [...]
I recently had the chance to talk with Dina Duhon, chair of SAS Global Forum 2021. And since you all didn’t get to meet her during the traditional closing session of SAS GF 2020, I’m taking the time to introduce her now. Take a read through our Q&A. I think you’ll find her SAS experience (conference and work-related) quite impressive!
Question (Q): Tell us a little about your SAS background? How and when did you start using SAS?
Answer (A): I was first exposed to SAS at university, although I am not sure if I would describe it as "using SAS." It was more about following a recipe from a professor. My first real exposure to SAS was in 1997 when I started my first job at BMO Financial Group. I started as a Research Analyst in the Credit Decision Support Group that conducted advanced analytics and data science (or data mining, as it was referred to at that time.) I started using SAS 6.8 on the UNIX platform. The rest, as they say, is history.
Q: When did you attend your first SAS Global Forum, and what was your favorite part of it?
A: My first SAS Global Forum was in Seattle 2010. There are a lot of favorites, so it’s difficult to settle on just one. The Opening Session and Technology Connection were impressive. I loved the ODS Hands-on-Workshop, and I was really impressed by the quality of the breakout sessions! And of course, meeting new people and networking with other SAS users, executives and SAS employees was a great experience. See what I mean when I say it’s hard to pick just one?
Q: When did you decide you wanted to be more involved with SAS Global Forum?
A: I have been involved in running the Toronto Data Science Forum since its inception in 2005. John Amrhein, 2017 Global Forum Chair, approached me after one of our fall meetings in 2014 and asked if I would be interested in getting involved with SAS Global Forum and helping support him through his conference year in 2017. I said yes, of course, and it set my SAS conference path in motion. I applied to be a member of the 2016 SAS Global Forum Content Advisory Team (CAT) team and have been involved in SAS Global Forum ever since.
Q: What made you decide you wanted to submit an application to chair SAS Global Forum?
A: I was involved in the conference for a couple of years and I thought it would be fun to chair a large conference. I was excited to participate at that level because it would allow me to collaborate closely with SAS and see the overall behind-the-scenes process, from marketing to logistics. I was also eager to learn new skills – step outside of my comfort zone – and enhance my project management, communication and public speaking skills.
Q: Given that SAS GF 2021 will again be virtual, what are your goals for the conference?
A: The main goal is to provide the best content to SAS users in the way that is easily consumable in the virtual world. It’s a wonderful opportunity to expand our virtual programs and social connection. And I am really looking forward to building on our successes in 2020.
Q: I know there are a lot of details that still need to be worked out as you and your conference teams plan users content for attendees. But what can users do at this time, while the program is being built out?
A: We have a lot of processes underway, and there is more to come. But for now, we are happy that the SAS Global Forum 2021 Student Symposium Competition has launched. This great program has been a part of SAS GF for years. It allows students, alongside a faculty advisor, to compete in an analytics competition. Teams can sign up now through Nov. 15, 2020, with the opportunity to win some exciting new prizes.
Also, we’re defining the requirements now for potential presenters to submit their ideas for a virtual presentation, so everyone should get their ideas ready! We’ll be announcing dates for the submissions in the coming weeks. And don’t forget this will be a different presenter experience - bring on your best ideas and video presence.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A: Glad you asked. As SAS, the SAS Global Users Group and the SAS GF conference team formulate what an exciting and engagement SAS GF 2021 looks like, we’d like input from SAS users around the world. Please take this brief survey to share more about what you are looking for from the conference. Thanks in advance!
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If you’re a SAS user, you know that SAS Global Forum is where you want to be! It’s our premier, can’t-miss event for SAS professionals—that includes thousands of users, executives, partners and academics.
It’s also our largest users’ event, organized by users, for users, and this year’s event marks our 44th annual! Of course, back when SAS got its start, our inaugural event was then called SAS.ONE. And while it’s grown from a couple dozen sessions to hundreds, it’s been a major keystone for SAS users around the world who look forward connecting and building knowledge.
Considering attending this year? We sat down with Analytics Manager, Rachel Nemecek, who attended for the first time in 2018, to share her SAS Global Forum experience with us!
Rachel’s favorite part of SAS Global Forum? “The access to so many different SAS subject matter experts in one place. I could just wander around the Attendee Hub [The Quad] and check out different technologies, meet product experts and get all my questions answered. It’s also a great opportunity to set up meetings with experts on particular topics relevant to my business. And, of course, swag. I won some SAS socks that I still wear and all my analyst friends are jealous.”
Keep reading to hear more about all the great things to expect at SAS Global Forum, and Rachel’s first-time experience, tips and insights!
Psst: Looking for conference proceedings? Our very own Lex Jansen has documented SAS conference proceedings from 1976-present!
Learn: Enhance your analytics skills
At the forefront of advanced analytics, digital transformation and innovation, you’ll hear the latest SAS advancements and announcements from SAS executives during the event. You’ll also hear from a great lineup of partners, customers (like Kellogg Company!) and industry experts on topics like artificial intelligence, IoT, cloud and more. With separate tracks for Users, Executives, Partners and Academics, the event features customized content for each audience.
What was Rachel’s favorite session of SAS Global Forum 2018? “I particularly enjoyed hearing from Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code. Kept thinking of my nieces and how great it was that opportunities like that to experiment with technical ideas could be available to them at a young age.”
Covering all learning preferences and formats, the event offers a variety of session types. In addition to a plethora of SAS topics, you’ll enjoy over 600 sessions, workshops, demos and presentations. And The Quad is not to be missed! With a 20% larger space than last year, you’ll learn more about SAS and our partners, and take part in hands-on activities, experiences and games like chess, smart darts and more!
Lastly, don’t forget that event attendees can also take advantage of (discounted) SAS training and certification right on-site! To secure your seat, register for pre and post-conference training and exams during your event registration. During the event check out the Learning Lab, where you can take free SAS e-learning classes and access our free SAS Viya for Learners tool.
Rachel’s advice? “Make sure to explore all the activities that are available outside just the conference sessions – hands-on activities, demos, and of course, the networking events.”
Tip: Don’t miss Opening Session for insights and entertainment! Also, don’t forget to schedule in time to visit the custom t-shirt press in the Cherry Blossom Lounge for your SAS Global Forum 2020 t-shirt!
Once available, use the SAS Global Forum app to build, map, and plan out your agenda in advance—not only will it help you keep track of the sessions you want to attend, but you’ll have a handy guide for navigating around the conference venue.
You’re sure to takeaway a lot of great SAS nuggets!
Network: Build your analytics circle
Attendees can also enjoy organized receptions for networking. Taking advantage of this year’s location, the 2020 event social will take place across two (Smithsonian) museums in just one night!
And, as Rachel points out, networking isn’t limited to who you meet outside your organization: “There were probably a couple dozen folks from various parts of my company that attended, which ended up being an extra benefit – to network with internal analytics colleagues outside my immediate organization.”
Be sure to sign up for the free networking events during registration, take advantage of the free lunch on-site (and lunchtime chats), and utilize the SAS Global Forum app! This year, all content will be housed in the app as part of our “go green” initiative. These are great opportunities to mingle with fellow SAS users and build your SAS network. Also, keep an eye out for SAS user group gatherings and special events!
Join us there!
Will Rachel be attending this year’s event? “Yes, I’ll be there and will be bringing a few folks from my team.”
Don’t miss out! Registration is open now!
We’ll see you in DC!
Tip: Not able to attend? You can still join in online. Several sessions will be live streamed via the SAS Users YouTube channel.
Have you attended #SASGF in the past? Share your favorite highlights from the event with us below!
First-timer to the event this year? We’re excited to have you join us and we’re looking forward to helping you create your SAS Global Forum story!
Experience SAS Global Forum: A First-Timer’s View & Tip Sheet was published on SAS Users.
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