After a quick side trip to New York… we finally made it to Toronto… to officially start our time at the Worldwide Partner Conference.
I have heard rumours of pre-day activities from colleagues who have attended WPCs of the past – usually it is a round of golf at a local course or a sightseeing tour around the host city. Not being all that good at golf (nor patient enough to hack around the course with semi-pros from the partner community) I thought to look for other events attached to the conference. The local Office 365 / SharePoint community were hosting SharePoint Saturday Toronto to coincide with WPC, so a few weeks ago with my Office 365 MVP hat on I put my hand up to speak at the event. Speaking meant getting to connect with a few likeminded user adoption and business value focused partners from the United States and Canada – like 2ToLead before the conference in a more social environment. That way when we meet at the conference we can focus our time on plans for world domination.
Landing at midday from New York and speaking at 2pm probably wasn’t the best idea though. After picking up our bags and doing our WPC registration at the airport – which took all of 30 seconds – we basically did an Amazing Race style dash through Pearson Airport to get to a cab to get to the event, which was being held at Microsoft Canada HQ. Just like how the North Ryde office is very convenient to get to from Sydney Airport (*cough* not), the Microsoft Canada office is in the middle of nowhere. Before presenting at the event I had the opportunity to meet the Corporate Vice President of SharePoint and OneDrive – Jeff Teper – just one example of the level of access you can get at WPC! The good news is that I managed to get through the presentation without falling asleep (although I had been mainlining coffee all morning to stay awake).
Australian Sightseeing Tour
What I didn’t realise when booking the ticket for WPC was that there was an Australian networking event planned for the Saturday Night. At Niagara Falls (which my wife quickly reminded me sounds a lot more like a holiday than a work thing).
We met with the rest of the Australian contingent at the Sheraton Downtown – the Australian Hotel – just after 5pm. We boarded the bus kitted out with our brand new Australian team jackets. The bus ride to Niagara was about 2 hours – filled with stories of jetlag and the chase of business class upgrades (and knowing nods from those who flew business anyway).
Sarah and the Partner team did a great job of picking a location for our dinner – with beautiful views of the falls. The Niagara IPA was the pick of the beers – but the best part of the networking dinner was being able to connect with Microsoft team members from around Australia, and partners keen to understand how we can all work together.
After dinner we boarded the “Hornblower” for an incredible 20 minutes at the base of the Niagara Falls. One word… spectacular!
I had my SLR with me and tried to capture the beauty of Niagara Falls at night… you can see what over 200 Microsoft Partners and team members experienced in this 3 minute video.
After getting off the boat we all made our way back to the bus for the long ride home back to Toronto. One more night of sleep before we get into the conference!