As I walked into the Venetian Ballroom for the General Session on Tuesday August 16th, I couldn’t believe the sea of people in front of me – 6,434 customers came out to the conference this year! I smiled at some familiar faces while following my team to the front of the room. Standing up on the stage, I could feel the energy of the room - everyone seemed happy to be there and excited to begin.
All of our speakers did an excellent job during the general session. One of the more hilarious moments was when our guest speaker, Rudy Ruettiger, spoke about gaining self confidence through his impressive skills folding underwear. He was extremely funny and down-to-earth – reminding us that you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room to do great things, it just takes a lot of hard work and character. Later on, our team had a few surprise announcements for everyone. Donna Jean Ciuffreda, an employee of the US Postal Service, sang the National Anthem for us. In addition, the winner of the 2011 Innovation award was announced and given to Margaret Colaianni from Department of State for a new product called a “Payment Card”.
On Tuesday night, our team decided to try something different and host a network training event. This was the first for GSA SmartPay, and ended up being a huge success. Everyone happily munched on their sliders and salads while having an opportunity to meet other program coordinators from other agencies. The GSA SmartPay team had an opportunity to answer questions, walk around and chat with the A/OPCs in the room. It seemed like every person I spoke with represented a different agency. In fact, we had attendees represented from DOD, tribal organizations, departments and indepedent agencies.
Everyone from our team had an opportunity to teach a course and work our GSA Welcome Booth. We were also able to attend a few classes as well. GSA offered 42 courses and the contractor banks offered a total of 160 courses. In fact, in just 3 days, there was over 42,000 credit hours received by attendees!
We have already begun planning for next year’s conference in Nashville, TN, but if there is something you would like to see, please comment below or send us an email. Please share your experience and your ideas with us, so that we can make it even better next year!
To view some photos from the conference, please visit: http://interact.gsa.gov/gallery/2011-gsa-smartpay-conference