The 2012 AIS Student Leadership Conference, a Huge Success!

The 2012 AIS Student Chapter Leadership Conference, a Huge Success!

From April 26-28, 2012, AIS Student chapters from around the world traveled to the heart of the great Rocky Mountains and converged on Provo, Utah,  the home to Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management. This was the site of the 3rd Annual AIS student Leadership Conference and Inaugural Competitions, which were sponsored by WalMart, Microsoft, and Parveda Solutions.

The conference began with an informal meet and greet ice cream social, where students, faculty, and professionals had the change to formally meet and network. As an icebreaker, students were divided up into small groups and given a list of questions, both serious and funny, to answer. These questions ranged anywhere from “who knows at least four programming languages” and “who has ever created a website” to “who has ever crashed their parent’s car” and “Who can name all four of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. These questions helped students to get to know one another and led to some very interesting stories. Representatives from WalMart and Pariveda were also there to meet our student attendees.

The second day of the conference kicked off with keynote speaker, Karenann Terrell, Executive VP and CIO of WalMart, who spoke of how we, the students of AIS, are the leaders of our future and the ones companies are looking for. She gave a presentation on the impressive size of the WalMart Information Technology department, which is the largest non-governmental information technology department in the world. She stressed the importance of innovation at Walmart and spoke of how the company strives to remain an industry leader. Mrs. Terrell ended her address by giving the advice to “be open to every opportunity that walks in front of you, no matter what the size may be” and “know what you are uniquely about and find something that suits your strengths well”. She reminded students that they are the ones companies want, and therefore can pick where they want to be and who they want to work for.

After the opening keynote address, the final round of student competitions began. All competition finalists were briefed on what was required and expected for the final round of competitions. Meanwhile, the conference went into full force, starting with breakout sessions in which different student chapters were able to present, network, and share ideas with each other.

The final day of conference arrived faster than anyone could have imagined. The day began with more student breakout sessions and the final presentations for competition tracks. The final keynote speaker was Kevin Ball, BYU alumni and Manager of IT Operations for US Downstream and Chemical Manufacturing at ExxonMobil. Mr. Ball presented on the many ways that ExxonMobil is in our lives and told his story about managing the implementation of a $20 million global project that rolled out more than six hundred state-of-the-art Linux workstations with high-end 3D and visualization applications to Upstream Geoscientists. Like Karenann Terrell, Mr. Ball stressed that we are the ones that companies are looking for and that we can choose to work where we want to work at. He added that it is important for each individual to find faith and to put family first, no matter where the career path may lead.

As a final social event, conference attendees spent the rest of the afternoon hiking up to the “Y” on the mountain overlooking Provo. This not only provided some magnificent views, but also allowed everyone to reflect on what they had learned over the past few days. To wrap up the 2012 conference, everyone was invited to a dinner and awards ceremony on BYU’s campus. Students were given the opportunity to each give a short video message about what they were taking away from the conference. After dinner, the final awards were presented for all four tracks of the inaugural student competitions. Many special thanks were given to our hosts, all those who made the conference possible, and to our very generous sponsors.  As the conference officially came to a close, a fitting message message, “Leave Behind a trail of Genius” resounded throughout the hall and out to the many AIS Student Chapters around the world.