In honor of our upcoming 500th meeting in Nashville on June 20th, we shine the Member of the Month spotlight on two CUGC HQ members who work so hard behind the scenes to make all of our local meetings and XL events happen:
Charleston, SC, USA
Explain what you do for CUGC and what our members may not realize is involved with local meeting planning.
Jen: With over 70 groups, planning 2-4 meetings a year, a great deal of coordination is involved. The partnership and communication that Katie and I have with the leaders and Citrix sales engineers (SEs) is key to the success of a meeting. The process begins at least 10 weeks in advance, starting with securing a date, venue and sponsor. During that time, content is developed and speakers are confirmed. The CUGC volunteer leaders put a great deal of time and energy into making sure their meetings address the wants and needs of their members. Katie and I follow their suggestions and help pull the plans together. Once the meeting details are set, we then build the event pages on myCUGC.org and send out communications to members. We rely on the leaders, SEs and members to reach out to their contacts who are not CUGC members, and invite them to the meeting and to join myCUGC.
Katie: Jen and I plan meetings so that Citrix customers have a place to go and become educated on the latest Citrix products and technology. At these meetings, strong relationships are built between community members who are there to network with each other. Jen and I split the 70+ user group communities and work daily to plan both the local group and XL meetings. Behind the scenes, we book venues, secure sponsorship dollars, help develop agendas and content, as well as secure event speakers. We work with CUGC volunteer leaders and the Citrix sales engineers to help promote the meeting for a broad outreach.
What can members expect at a local event?
Katie: There are several reasons to attend local meetings: the networking, education on Citrix products…and you can’t beat a free meal and prizes! One Houston CUGC meeting comes to mind, where Martin Zugec was speaking. He was able to help a CUGC member resolve a problem that had been ongoing within their organization for quite some time. Martin was able to walk through step-by-step how to mitigate the issue with everyone in attendance. This is one example of how networking opportunities at these events can have a monumental impact on CUGC members. Another reason to attend CUGC meetings is the hands-on workshop. Citrix has made it a priority to host these hands-on learning experiences for CUGC members at no charge for Q2 and Q3 meetings. This is a great opportunity considering there are very few (if any) free hands-on labs available.
Jen: CUGC meetings are for end users by end users, and all experience levels are welcome. Attending gives the opportunity to connect with Citrix peers in your area, to learn about other environments (what has worked, what hasn’t) and to gain new tips and tricks. Meetings are filled with technical content from experts within Citrix, Citrix Technology Professionals (CTPs), Citrix Technology Advocates (CTAs), member user shares and sponsor technical presentations. You will walk away with knowledge and connections that will give you an edge over those not in attendance. Another reason you don’t want to miss out is the tasty food, beverages, and cool prizes. Oh, and it’s all FREE!!
And did you know our 500th meeting is coming up in Nashville on June 20?
Tell us about the XL events.
J+K: CUGC XL events (as in extra large!) came about through a collaboration between the Omaha and Kansas City groups in 2017 and based on the format used by several EMEA groups. The concept was developed to bring groups together for a full-day meeting with multiple expert speakers and sponsors. We, at HQ, thought it was a cool idea and decided that since both groups had been very active, with strong attendance, that we would give it a shot. The leadership team and SEs were heavily involved in the planning. Their main goal was to offer an engaging and highly technical event to their communities. They pulled that off and then some! The outcome was superior to what they imagined and the first Great Plains CUGC XL went down in the books as a huge success! Later that year, we decided to take the XL model to the Great Lakes area (combining the Chicago, Fox Valley, Madison, & Milwaukee groups) and yet again, another awesome CUGC XL! The word spread quickly and requests from other groups to have an XL started pouring in, so we decided to add two more XLs in 2018: Midwest XL and Northeast XL. In 2019, we added four more: Florida XL, Texas XL, Denmark XL and SoCal XL, bringing us to a total of eight this year!
From start to finish, the XLs are great fun to plan! We get to work with cool venues such as NFL, NBA, and College Football stadiums. We meet with the leaders and SE teams weekly to make sure no details are missed and at the event we have the chance to interact with our members and sponsors see all the time and effort come to fruition!
What’s the recipe for a perfect local event?
J+K: All local groups are different and their recipes can vary, but a general recipe for a successful local group meeting is:
• Energy from Leaders, SEs and group members
• Great venue: private / semi-private space, AV / Wi-Fi available, parking available, fun atmosphere
• Expert speakers
• Up-to-date technical content
• Tasty food and cool prizes
• Engaged members and solid attendance
• Interesting sponsor presentations
Outside of CUGC, what do you do for fun?
Katie: I’m super close with my family and try to see them as much as possible. I have three nephews, two nieces, and another niece on the way in July, all of whom I adore and love to spoil when I’m in town.
My husband and I just bought our first home a few months ago, which is keeping us busy with DIY projects. When we're not working on our house, we love spending time with family and friends, watching college football, camping, boating, fishing, visiting my husband’s farm land, or doing just about anything outdoors. We also stay very involved with our local community and Churches.
Currently, I serve on the board of directors for a wonderful group in my town, the Junior Service League of Summerville. This organization has allowed me to work with some amazing non-profit groups in the Lowcountry. Outside of our busy-but-fun lifestyle…it is nice to come home to our sweet dog Pawley to love on.
Jen: Outside of the office, most of my time is spent with my husband, our two super cool kiddos, Allie and Parker, and our very chill pup, Maddux. We are also lucky to have a bonus son, John. Most of our family time is spent outdoors, finding off-the-beaten-path adventures and disconnecting at our tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere.
I also enjoy painting, cooking, volunteering in the community, connecting with friends and of course watching Alabama football (Roll Tide!!!). My happy place is at the theater, either directing youth/young adults or in the audience seeing a show.
To close, Katie and I want to give shout outs to all of the awesome leaders, Citrix SEs, members, CUGC Steering Committee and sponsors who make this an awesome community to be a part of! We also are also very lucky to be part of a fun HQ team (Stephanie Boozer, Brad Hornback and George Abar) and the Citrix Community team (Kimberly Ruggero, Ron Oglesby and Tarkan Kocoglu). We would not be able to do what we do without them!