I am very open about my love of the ACE program and honest that it funds many of my speaking opportunities.In return for this I agree to engage with Oracle Product Development, attend their briefings and share the knowledge. Not really much of a commitment, I love the sharing and who wouldn't want to have the product management access?
The briefings take place the Thursday and Friday before Open World and are an in depth summary (is that an oxymoron?). People like Thomas Kurian, Steve Miranda, Amit
Zavery and Wim
Coekaerts give up an hour of what is probably their busiest few days in the run up to the conference and give you their messages. Many are to be told for the first time at OOW so luckily we have Duncan Mills on hand to constantly remind us of our NDAs.
By the end of the two days I have all the big messages, have had the privilege of hearing it from the best people and then having my peers who are experts in those areas ask the clever questions. Even if I had time at OOW to attend all their sessions I would not have had this insight. There is open debate over product direction and sometimes passionate dispute but please Oracle never stop these briefing their value is priceless.
It is also a great time to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Again we may not have the chance once the OOW circus starts for real. I particularly liked catching up with Plinio from Peru who I had the privilege to meet in Costa Rica on the Latin America North OTN tour this year. Thank you for the Tequila :-)
There is also an ACE party on the Sunday evening this time at the Yacht Club and I also then got to catch up with Paola from Equador, Pablo from OTN LA and many others I have met over the years. Please don't judge me if I cannot remember everyone's name.
At OOW the ACE leaders, Vikki, Lillian and Todd run the OTN lounge and I did have a couple of very short opportunities to hang out there. A haven with a desk and power amongst the 50,000 attendees and of course free T shirts.
I also got a chance to help Vikki with an OTN Live video talking about the ACE program, and was asked if I was 'the only ACE in the village' but the interviewer talked about where I live. A tiny village in Northern Ireland called Ballynure.