With registration for the Midwest SAS Users Group well underway, I reached out to conference chair George Hurley to get the scoop on what makes MWSUG a can’t-miss event for SAS users. As a veteran MWSUG attendee, he’s an absolute expert in what makes it such a rewarding opportunity for SAS professionals.
George started attending the conference in 2002 and enjoyed it so much that he stuck with it even after he relocated to the northeast (talk about a ringing endorsement!). He shared that he loved MWSUG from the start because it offered “intimate opportunities to interface with experts in Applied Analytics and SAS, as opposed to much larger conferences, where you can get ‘lost in the crowd’.” He also said that the knowledge he gained from the conferences have helped him immensely professionally. “I always bring some analytical nugget back from a conference, and often many nuggets. At my current organization, these nuggets have allowed us to solve problems that we were unable to before and have increased productivity. ”
About 400-450 SAS users make the trek to MWSUG each year. George said that MWSUG shines in its ability to make professionals feel welcomed and included, in addition to its robust offerings. He said that they’re focused on making sure that MWSUG offers a larger number of presentation tracks. MWSUG also offers pre-conference training sessions from nationally recognized instructors at very affordable rates--an excellent option for professionals looking to deepen their skillset in a particular area.
What keeps George coming back year after year? He says that organizing the conferences has “helped my career in that I have gained great leadership skills” and that the “the time and travel I’ve committed to attending these groups has paid itself back many times.” If that’s not enough, check out George’s top reasons for attending:
5 reasons to attend MWSUG:
- Work relevance. This year more than ever, MWSUG has tailored its offering to be immediately relevant for professionals. George said “we’re offering a large number of industry specific talks, such as those in our Banking and Finance and Pharmaceutical sections and our Analytics section focuses on applied analytical solutions.” With these targeted sections and a plethora of work-focused papers, you’ll be able to easily apply your new knowledge to your on-the-job projects.
- MWSUG has an all-star panel of speakers. Futurist Thorton May is speaking, and with his enviable résumé and technical expertise, it’ll definitely be a popular event. If that’s not enough, George says that in addition to May’s star power, MWSUG is also hosting a 5-person panel of SAS experts who’ll be presenting solutions to a problem. The best part? George says “this problem will also be available to the audience pre-conference, so you can see how your solutions compare to theirs.” If you’re interested in tackling the problem, keep an eye on the MWSUG website.
- Special Customer Intelligence and JMP tracks. George says that these tracks are especially impressive this year. He says the CI track is “a little like the executive track at SGF or the Analytics Conference-- it's for decision makers like managers and executives. The emphasis is on the business question and solution rather than on the technical details of how it was done.” Interested? Check out this example from last year’s conference on how a milk company used analytics to increase sales and customer retention. He says the JMP track is “a little like the annual JMP Discovery Conference. The talks are generally at the lower level, for users who have a basic understanding of JMP but little else, so it's a great introduction for many users who have barely heard of it.” Both tracks are designed to appeal of SAS users of all levels. “For specialized attendees, it gives them an opportunity to specialize in their area of expertise and mix with their brethren” he says. If you’re new to JMP and looking to learn more, the tracks offer plenty for you too. “For general users, it gives a nice introductory exposure to these areas.”
- Special appearance by SAS celebrities: Art Carpenter, Kirk Lafler, Ben Cochran, Art Tabachneck, Andy Kuligowski, Ron Fehd, and Taylor Lewis, along with SAS Global Forum Best Paper Award Winners, Patrick Thornton and Dylan Ellis.
- Columbus makes a great getaway: George recommends that every conference goer take an extra day to visit the COSI museum. With over 300 interactive exhibits, it’s no wonder it was ranked the #1 Science Center for Families by Parents Magazine. George said “even if you don’t bring your family, this is one of the best science museums in the country.” As the capital of Ohio and home to Ohio State University, Columbus offers numerous other attractions and fine dining. Plus, a bag of authentic buckeyes candies is sure to make you very popular with your co-workers back at the office.
How can you convince your boss to send you to MWSUG?
You can start by reading the abstracts of the 2013 MWSUG papers and selecting the ones that are most relevant and useful to your organization. Create a pitch that’s tailored to your organization’s specific needs. George called the conference “a great educational opportunity that will generate immediate improvements at work be it through SAS Coding, Analytical Knowledge, or Industry-Specific Learnings.”
You can also check if you’re eligible for discounted registration, but even at the regular rate, George said that it’s a “minimal investment for a great return.” He’s right! Each registration fee includes: two full days of paper presentations, hands-on workshops, access to the Networking and Innovation Area and more. In addition to the knowledge you’ll gain and improvements you’ll see on the job, attending the conference also gives you the opportunity to network with professionals in your region.
Thanks once again to George and the rest of the MWSUG volunteers for making this year’s MWSUG an incredible event and taking the time to share it with us. Register today! For both new and returning users alike, keep checking the conference website for the most up-to-date information and announcements. If social media is more your thing, connect with the MWSUG on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.