Spring is a time of renewal, and for IT professionals in Atlantic Canada, there’s no better way to shake off the cobwebs than by attending the Professional Development Summit (PDS) on May 3rd at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax.
“The annual PD Summit is always an exciting opportunity for IT professionals to come together and learn from each other,” says event Chair Michelle Murray, Branch Manager for Halifax’s Randstad Technologies. “This year will be even better as PDS is celebrating 10 years as the premier professional development conference for the region’s growing ICT sector and we have some really exciting new features for 2017.
With expertise in IT recruitment, Murray joined the PDS steering committee in 2011 as a way to make a difference in the local IT industry and enhance professional development by helping to bring the industry together.
“Most people in this sector don’t have the time to commit to lengthy courses or the opportunity to learn from organizations right in our own community,” she says. “By working hard with industry every year, we have developed a program based on what IT professionals want and need. In a single day, PDS provides a better understanding of industry trends, new ways to lead change, and meaningful opportunities to network with colleagues.”
Founded in 2008, the Professional Development Summit is a volunteer, community-led conference that leverages local expertise to support the growth of the Atlantic region’s ICT workforce. Initially a joint venture of the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS), International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), and Canadian Association of Management Consultants (CMC), PDS has grown to include Atlantic Association for Software Quality Assurance (AASQA), Digital Nova Scotia (DNS); IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) and Project Management Institute (PMI).
“It’s the only conference in the region that’s supported by all seven associations coming together for one common professional development goal, rather than individually,” says Murray. “We have volunteers as well as representatives from each of the associations on the steering committee and we all work together.”
Melanie Gallant, Director of Operational Excellence for CGI’s Atlantic Business Unit, sees PDS as a demonstration of the breadth and depth of Atlantic Canada’s IT capabilities. “The successful participation rates we see year over year are a testament to the commitment made by businesses and those who have chosen to live and develop their careers in this region,” she says. “CGI is very proud to have been involved as a sponsor for many years, and to have several of our professionals attending or presenting again this year.”
Gallant enjoys the networking that takes place at PDS and values the opportunity to learn about innovative approaches to solving business challenges. This year, she’s especially looking forward to the keynote address on disruptive innovation from Ted Graham, head of Open Innovation at General Motors and a driving force behind new forms of mobility, including autonomous and connected vehicles.
“Mr. Graham is a global leader in innovation, says Gallant. “It’s so exciting that we’ll be hearing from someone who has been very successful at leveraging networks of smart people. That’s what the Summit is all about.”
The 2017 program also features an impressive lineup of speakers delivering more than 20 sessions devoted to Management & Leadership and Innovation & Technology. Topics range from Organizational Excellence, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence, and Lean Startup Strategy to Virtual Reality Development, Scaled Agile Framework, and Human-centered Design.
Over the lunch hour, there’s also a special executive panel moderated by Fawn Annan, President, Chief Marketing Officer and Group Publisher of IT World Canada/IDG Canada. Participants include senior executives from Emera, High Liner Foods, Nova Scotia Government, Kinduct Technologies, and Bell Canada.
“There really is something for everyone,” says Gallant. “Whether you’re an IT professional, an academic, or a business leader, you’ll find something at PDS that will interest and inspire you on your digital transformation journey.”
For Michelle Murray, it all adds up to a collaborative way to support the ICT sector.
“Six years ago I asked myself how I could help shape our industry,” she recalls. “The answer then, and now, is by contributing to the PD Summit. With the generous support of our sponsors, and the efforts of hard-working volunteers, PDS brings people together in a way that forges powerful connections and drives innovation. It is truly an example of how the power of information, people, passion and technology can come together and it all happens over the course of a single day.”