My Out of Office
The flight was reasonable, and not too long. I decided to fly into Toronto and take a day there before hopping on the train to Windsor, just a stone’s throw and Uber-ride from the M1 Concourse in West Pontiac, Detroit. Trains aren’t usually my thing, but with Canadian efficiency, good manners and scenery to enjoy, it was worth the extra travel time and actually worked out cheaper than flying directly to Detroit, so my boss was happy too.
Rolling into Detroit a day early, I was relieved to see the city was a far cry from the picture that had been painted for me. The city was clean, and even the older office blocks and tenement buildings looked like they’d been refurbished and renewed recently. There were plenty of shops too, perhaps next year I could bring my partner for a shopping trip and squeeze in some local tourism?
It’s too early to think about that, but I’ll look forward to spending some real time exploring the motor city.
After checking into the recommended hotel, hanging my clothes, I grabbed a bite to eat and reviewed my agenda for the week ahead.
Autonomous vehicle demos – well we talk about them a lot but it’ll be nice to see a few more varieties. What I particularly like is to try and push the boundaries of my own knowledge and imagine weaknesses in a system and quiz engineers about how they’ve dealt with them.. it’s great to see them respond excitedly and passionately.
IEEE working group meeting… a chance to catch up on what I’ll need to tell my colleagues when I get back to the office. It’s a bit of a monster, but we are involved for the right reasons so it’s not just about being visible – what goes on there will influence our work for years, so it’s great to have it running alongside the conference and training too.
Speaking of which, there are six workshops this year. I’m hopeful I can get in to at least a couple, I’ve already heard about the workshop from last year and the standing ovation at the end. I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember that ever happening at college!
So far, lots of work, my boss is certainly getting his value out of my time, but between you and me, I like the variety too.
And now to the social calendar! I’m secretly quite excited about going to the Henry Ford Museum, and riding in a Model T. There’s a fleet of them, alongside numerous driverless vehicles, but I think you can guess which I’m interested in away from the office – a rare treat.
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The local car clubs and even the main conference venue are adding a twist of gasoline to proceedings with a muscle-car display thrown in for good measure. It went down well in Europe, so in the home of the automobile, it’s great to have a host that respects the heritage of our industry. Personally it’s not been a life-long obsession, just timid tinkering with my family car, but I can still enjoy the heat and noise of a V8, even if I spend most of my time on a laptop.
The conference is busy, sold out last I heard, and I’ll be busy too – mostly talking, so I’ll be popping throat lozenges and drinking plenty of water, as I know many of those conversations will go into the night. There’s so much business going on, but more than that – there are friendships being made, both personal and professional. There’s a lot of new technology, start-ups from the US and elsewhere, and they always go down well – especially with the Tier 1s and OEMs.
As for me, I have a simpler life, taking notes and grabbing a seat when I can… I know if I miss anything I will be able to catch up using the online streaming video in a week or so – another great innovation that takes the pressure off people like me, so I can finish the business chat, close the sale and not panic if somehow I missed a conference session.
It might be a young event, but it’s more than just “well organised” – it seems to hugely increase what I can achieve in a really short space of time, seeing the right people, for the right reasons, and enabling me to both learn and contribute to my own business and the industry as a whole.
But that I would say that, I work for the organisers!
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