SAS Global Forum is an all-volunteer event, with SAS users from around the globe serving in a variety of roles to make the event happen. Still, no position is more impactful to the success of the conference than the SAS Global Forum Conference Chair. Its importance is highlighted by the fact that the chair position is filled approximately three years in advance of the event. So if you do the math, and even I can do this math, it’s time to receive nominations and ultimately select the chair for SAS Global Forum 2019. Nominations are currently being accepted and will continue through Feb. 8.
This much lead time might seem like overkill, but the chair utilizes every bit of it. (BTW, the conference chair also has duties in the years following the conference, so it really is a multi-year appointment!) At three years out, the chair is shadowing other conference chairs and reviewing surveys and data to determine what’s working or might need more focus. At two years out, the chair develops and refines their conference plans, themes, goals, etc. The year of the conference is spent working with the Global Forum Conference Team on content planning, attracting speakers, encouraging submissions and executing the event. Through all this lead up, the chair is participating on the SAS Global Users Group Executive Board and attending conference planning meetings. After the conference and in future years the chair continues to be an active member of the Executive Board.
Clearly, it’s a special SAS professional who can successfully serve as conference chair and many, many hours go into vetting candidates, interviewing them and deciding on the best candidate to fill this role.
Former chair and current Executive Board member Debbie Buck is serving as Chair of the Nominations Committee for the 2019 search. Debbie is currently a Senior Statistical Programmer/Analyst with Chiltern and was an independent statistical consultant and an instructor for SAS for many years. She was also previously with Theorem Clinical, the Washington University School of Medicine, and Louisiana State University. Over the past 30 years, she’s served in a number of volunteer roles for the SAS Users Groups at the local, in-house, regional and international levels. She served as chair for a number of events, including SCSUG 1997, SSU 2001 (the Joint Conference of the SouthEast and South Central SAS Users Groups) and SAS Global Forum 2011, held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV.
Recently, I asked Debbie to share a little more information about the nomination process.
Larry LaRusso: Who would you consider a good candidate for SAS Global Forum Conference Chair? What experience should this person have?
Debbie Buck: Good candidates should be current SAS users or managers who are active in the SAS community and other professional conferences and organizations. They should also have good presentation and leadership experience, yet know how to be a great collaborator. Also, good candidates should have ideas on how they might want to shape their conference content to attract and benefit the conference attendees and SAS user community in general. As a past chair, I can confidently say that everyone who has served in this role, and all of the SAS Global Users Group Executive Board, wants to ‘give back’ to the SAS community. We have benefited from attending SAS User Group conferences and using SAS has played a significant role in our professional lives. A good chair will sincerely want the entire SAS user community to benefit from their input and expertise.
LL: What is the role of the Conference Chair prior to, during and after SAS Global Forum?
DB: Conference Chairs are really committing to multiple years of service. A newly selected conference chair immediately becomes an active member of the SAS Global Users Group Executive Board. Prior to, during, and continuing after their tenure as chair, they actively collaborate with SAS and the Executive Board for conference planning activities and outreach to the SAS user community. As conference chair, they focus on establishing conference content by working with the conference team to identify topics of interest, engage high profile speakers, encourage volunteer participation, and attract SAS users.
LL: What are the main benefits, and I’m thinking personally and professionally here, for someone who is selected as a conference chair?
DB: Chairing SAS Global Forum provides a number of benefits to the individual and his or her company. These benefits include increased visibility in the SAS Community; leadership development (you lead an international conference of nearly 5,000 attendees); technical development and additional knowledge using SAS; and exposing your company’s brand and increasing their standing as a leader in the technology space. Plus, you get to spend a great deal of time with and get to know SAS leaders and executives.
LL: This all sounds great. Can you tell me how someone might apply for the 2019 Conference Chair position?
DB: Information on how to apply is available at the sasCommunity.org website. I really encourage anyone interested in applying, to submit an application. And, if you know of someone who would make a great chair, encourage them to apply as well. But you should hurry; applications are due by Feb. 8, 2016.
LL: Thanks for your time Debbie.
DB: My pleasure.