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The Tale of the Man With Many Hats

ASEA Monthly

It was great to see such an impressive turnout at the ASPPA Annual conference this year. It felt like attendance was nearly at pre-pandemic numbers. Most of the sessions I attended seemed to be bursting at the seams. 

I was asked to share my experience of being at the conference both as an exhibitor and an attendee. While I work with a software provider, I also need continuing education credits and to make sure I’m up to date on all the new laws, regulations, and concepts. It is an interesting feeling to not know what “hat” I will be wearing at any given time. 

During breakfast down in the exhibit hall, I obviously had my “exhibitor hat” on, greeting attendees and answering questions. But once I am upstairs attending the morning sessions my role becomes unclear. As I sit in the sessions or during the breaks in between, I could have a casual chat with a longtime acquaintance or see a familiar client and get a simple compliment on our software or customer support. It also could be an opportunity for instantaneous support; for instance, with a conversation starting, “I’ve been meaning to call you about an issue we’ve been having” and ending with us pulling out a laptop, grabbing a nearby table and going over the issue right then and there. 

There are always sessions about new technology and changes to the laws. After those sessions, I will certainly be approached with questions such as, “Will you be implementing this in your programs?” In this case, I’ll put on my “developer hat” and try to answer the questions the best I can or take notes that I can convey to the programmers back at the office. Lastly, I am constantly meeting clients in person with whom I’ve only spoken on the phone or communicated with through email. It is always fun to put a face with a name!

It's at the after-hours at the lobby bars or restaurants in National Harbor where the “hats” can come off and you can get to know people on a more personal level and make some new friends. I’ve gotten to know many people over the years, and I am very grateful for that. In fact, it was in this exact situation that I was asked to write this article and agreed to do so. 

It is a compelling experience to see the conference from various viewpoints. Maybe sometime soon I will join a committee or moderate/speak at a session and add another viewpoint (I immediately regret writing that sentence!). 

Well, next year’s conference will be here before we know it and I’ll make sure to pack all my hats.

Until next year!

Sam Venouziou, EA, is MSEA at DATAIR.