Last November, we held the inaugural “Devolutions Central” event in Montreal at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Hotel. This was a special opportunity for us to meet some of our partners, customers and top advocates. We had an incredible time discussing ideas and trends in the IT world, and we plan on making this an annual event.

As you might expect, an enormous amount of hard work and planning went into Devolutions Central, and leading the way was our Product Marketing Specialist Jenny Knafo. As usual, Jenny went above and beyond to make everything a big success.

I recently had a chance to chat with Jenny about Devolutions Central, and discover some of the behind-the-scenes details. Here’s a look at our conversation:

Can you share some insights on the organizing that went into Devolutions Central?

I started to work on the project in June 2017, and continued non-stop until the event was over in November. I would say that organizing Devolutions Central was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever experienced. There were so many little details, such as booking flights, finding hotel accomodations, picking speakers, arranging the entertainment and catering, putting together gift bags, and so on. It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. It was daunting at times, but I loved every minute of it and learned a lot!

Can you talk more about the gift bags?

We made special gift bags for every guest, which included t-shirts, Gabriel Filippi’s riveting book “The Escapist,” a laminated Sysadminotaur Comic Strip, a little bottle of maple syrup in honor of Quebec, and some other Devolutions’ goodies.

Can you tell us more about the event itself?

We had three conferences featuring three incredible speakers: AI specialist Nikola Danaylov, alpinist, speaker and author Gabriel Filippi, and security expert Laurent Desaulniers. Each of these experts shared insights on how to succeed and thrive in a constantly changing and challenging world.

In addition, we held peer-to-peer and networking sessions, during which IT pros discussed solutions and strategies for dealing with common problems. We also had multiple workshops spotlighting Devolutions products and solutions led by our CEO David Hervieux, CTO Stefan Lavergne, and Business Architect Maurice Côté.

Then in the evening, we headed out to the Bell Center to watch an NHL game in a private suite —  because you can’t visit Montreal without seeing the Canadiens play! Some of our guests even stayed for a couple of days after the event to visit our beautiful city, and we took them for a drink at the famous Hurley’s Irish Pub. Hey, who says you have to be Irish to enjoy a good old pint!

What was your biggest challenge in planning the event?

I would say that finding the right speakers and making sure that our guests learned something important and interesting was my biggest challenge. We brought people from all over the world, and wanted to ensure that it was well worth the trip. Thankfully, everyone loved the content and the speakers.

What was your favorite moment from Devolutions Central?

There were so many good moments that it’s hard to pick just one. However, I think my favorite experience was the bus ride. I know, I know – that sounds like it should be the most boring moment, right? But it wasn’t, because that’s when everyone started getting to know each other and talking. It was relaxing, fun, and a really spontaneous thing. I was hoping people would start connecting, but wasn’t sure it would happen so fast and so easily!

I know you asked for one moment, but I would also like to add that attending the hockey game and hanging out in a private suite was amazing. Almost all of us were vocal Montreal Canadiens fans — I say almost, because we did have one Arizona Coyotes fan: Ryan Reichard, who had the courage to show up wearing a Coyote’s jersey.

Oh, there was also the moment when we left the hockey game and accidently forgot Brent. Sorry Brent, and thanks for being such a good sport about it!

Do you think we’ll repeat the experience?

Yes! It was definitely a hit. The second time will be bigger and better. We’re already planning Devolutions Central 2 this summer. It’s going to be a special event for our advocates, clients and partners from the province of Quebec. One day, we hope to invite and meet everyone who is part of the Devolutions family. I’m going to need some more help planning that one, because it will be massive!

Would you care to say a few words to our guests?

Thank you to everyone who attended and made the event such a success. Real connections and friendships were made, and I’m looking forward to seeing you again. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

On behalf of the Devolutions team, I’d also like to say thank you to our guests, and to Jenny for making it happen. She worked tremendously hard — both at the office and at home — and I know that there were some stressful times. But she ROCKED the event, and did everyone proud. We can’t wait to see what she has in store for Devolutions Central 2. Way to go, Jenny!