1st Conference: Organiser Interview - Kelsey van Haaster

Kelsey van Haaster has been a staple member of the Agile community for a number of years in Melbourne, and she has been a supporter of Tabar events from the very beginning.

It gave us great pleasure to have Kelsey assist in the curation of 1st for this year. She has taken charge of the design of the second day of workshops and she also took a lead in driving diversity across the speakers to ensure a balanced conference.

Take a read of our short interview with Kelsey, getting a feel for what 1st is really trying to achieve this year.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to reach out to us. My email is Ringo.Thomas@tabar.com.au and I'm always happy to hear from you.

1st Conference is being held on 2-3 March. Registration is available now.

I want the overall journey to really create something that people can go back to work on Monday from and implement something they’ve learnt.

Ringo: I understand that you’re new as an organiser to 1st conference, what are you trying to bring to the table?

Kelsey: The key thing for me was to provide people with a curated experience. I find a lot of the time guests are left to find their own way through a program at conferences and not given enough guidance at all. 

I want the overall journey to really create something that people can go back to work on Monday from and implement something they’ve learnt. 

I’ve also taken a focus on ensuring appropriate Gender Diversity for 1st Conference. Interestingly the ratio of female to male speakers at tech conferences is even lower than the representation in the workplace within IT. 

I didn’t find it difficult at all to find strong woman speakers, just for what appears to be a cultural reason they don’t appear to be frequently targeted. I’m hoping that 1st conference can set an example others will follow.

Ringo: What do you want people to be thinking about before they come to ensure get the most out of the two days?

Kelsey: I’d like people to be aware that we’ve curated the space more specifically and to take advantage of that. People should ensure that they focus on the sessions and workshops that will address the areas they’re really concerned about.

People should be coming with questions they want the answers to and be ready to interact, not just sit and watch. It’s an investment of money and time, so people should be considering how they get ROI on both.

Ringo: Tell me about the workshops, and what you think they’re going to add to the overall learning experience?

Kelsey: This is about wanting to give people something they learn and can take back to work, it’s all about the marry up of the theory and the practice.

We’ll also have two streams, one more technical with the other more business focused so that you can be involved in something relevant to you.

Ringo: What’s the best advice you’d give someone starting out on their Agile journey?

Kelsey: Keep it simple, understand that Agile isn’t a methodology it’s a mindset, this is where it should begin.

This is what I love about Alistairs’ Heart of Agile concept, it keeps it so simple. People should know that Agility is not just about Software Development techniques, that there’s no wrong way of doing it and there’s no right or wrongs as long as you’re guided by the core principals. 

Ringo: What are the most common roadblocks that people come across they should look out for?

Kelsey: The most common roadblock that I’ve seen is people trying to change things in isolation without considering how broadly they should try and communicate their goals. I've seen people using iterative and incremental methods for delivery but the PMO has no idea and this poses execution risk for both sides.

This isn't to say that you can't be successful in isolation, however if you're always thinking about communicating what you are doing and why a little more widely than you're naturally inclined it often breeds success.