I first met conference chair Lauren Haworth back in 1997 when she was presenting a paper at the Pacific NorthWest SAS users group. Since that time, she's gone on to chair the Western Users of SAS (WUSS) conference (twice!), write 2 SAS Press books, serve as a section chair for SGF, and now, serve as conference chair. It would be an understatement to say that Lauren has a lot of experience supporting the SAS user community.
I'm sure that she's heard it all over the years, and I thought that it might be fun to play some Fact or Fiction with her. If you like this game, we can make it a quarterly feature, and you can suggest the questions the next time!
1.) Fact or Fiction?: SAS Global Forum is really a thinly disguised SAS marketing event run by SAS?
Not true! SAS does provide the Opening Session, which is an opportunity for everyone to find out what's new and on the horizon. It that respect, it is perhaps a bit of marketing to a captive audience! The real focus of the forum however, is on education and providing an environment where SAS Software users can come together and network and learn. SAS mainly sends R&D and services staff. I don't consider it as a sales opportunity for them. The forum is also the result of a collaboration between the SAS Global Forum Executive Board and SAS. In fact, the board met for two days this past July to continue finalizing plans for this year's forum, and we also have weekly conference calls.
2.) Fact or Fiction?: Most presentations at SGF come from SAS staff instead of real-world SAS users.
Hmm. It depends upon how you look at it. There are definitely more presentations from real-world SAS users than SAS staff. SAS staff will be invited by section chairs to provide about 60 of an estimated 300 presentations. But when you factor in the "SAS Presents" content, which is provided entirely by SAS, then the equation might balance out. At any rate, SAS is not the dominant presenter. It's a good mix of both.
3.) Fact or Fiction?: A gallon (16 cups) of coffee costs more than $60 at the convention center.
I had to check on the answer to this one! According to SAS Certified Meeting Planner Diane Marshburn, it's false that there are 16 cups to a gallon at hotels or convention facilities because they typically use larger capacity cups, which means you'd have between with 10- 12 cups to a gallon. Unfortunately, the cost of more than $60 a gallon is true and not negotiable! So that cup of coffee you have at the conference costs us $5-6. It just one of many "behind the scenes" things that are part of planning an event. Diane and other planners back at SAS work very carefully to plan food and beverage menus so that SGF gets the best deals and value from all of its vendors.
4.) Fact or Fiction?: The conference chair is paid a stipend by SAS and has full access to the SAS corporate jet and free M&Ms.
I wish! SGF is a non-profit organization that's totally separate from SAS. My employer allows me to donate my time to the conference (Thanks, Genentech!) I receive no salary from SAS or free trips on the corporate jet. However, I do get M&Ms if I want them when I visit SAS. [note from Michael: SAS is the world's largest corporate consumer of M&M's - we consume 22 tons per year.]
5.) Fact or Fiction?: The last conference held in Seattle had approximately 3,000 attendees.
That's true. This year we're hoping for approximately 3,200 attendees.