December 2012
By Julie DiRosa

Executive Conference India: Learning from those who know

Managers and directors from technical communication departments across India and abroad gathered for the first-ever Executive Conference under the tcworld India banner. The exclusive one-day event was held at the ISTA Hotel in Bangalore on November 16th, 2012 and attracted more than 60 participants. Renowned experts presented the latest developments and strategic issues of technical communication and offered solutions for effectively managing departments and teams.

“This special event for managers and directors turned out to be highly interactive, engaging, and thought-provoking,” commented Gururaj B.S, Senior Manager of Information Development at Oracle. “It was seen as a precursor to the upcoming tcworld India conference 2013, which is jointly organized by the Technical Writers of India (TWIN) and tekom.”

The morning kicked off with Sara O’Keefe, founder of Scriptorium Publishing, who presented via WebEx from America. Her presentation “Transforming technical content into a business asset” dealt with the creation of a content strategy for technical communication. Kapil Verma, Sr. Product Manager from Adobe, presented on the future of technical communication.

Tony Self from Hyperwrite Australia focused his presentation on how to incorporate DITA into technical documentation departments, while Sandhya Prasad from Sapient Nitro addressed documentation quality concerns.

“It was great to experience and learn how these big tech companies and departments in India work and how they handle staff recruitment, training and retention,” said Dr. Michael Fritz, CEO of tcworld and tekom.

Panel: Direction from Directors

The panel discussion “Direction from Directors” was the icing on the cake of the Executive Conference. It was a fitting finale to a day packed with knowledge sharing in a room that boasted a total of over 593 years of technical writing experience!

The panelists contributed several years of broad experience to the mix. The panel consisted of Sugandha from Alcatel-Lucent, Sai Kavitha from Dell, Ravi from SAP, Ram from Vestas, and Jagan from EMC. Jagan added a new flavor to the discussion due to his role as an Engineering Head with responsibility for documentation. His expertise prompted a wide variety of questions specifically directed at him.

The main objectives of the panel discussion was to provide insight into common challenges faced by leaders of technical communication teams, and to discuss solutions. In this way attendees understood that they were not alone in their battles. They learned that there were people whom they could use as role models in case of need. And lastly, attendees got an idea of new challenges that might come their way.

Topics covered ranged from common areas such as hiring, budgeting, value generation and ensuring quality to more sophisticated topics such as innovation and technology. Hiring, quality assurance, and value generation are those areas that pose the biggest challenges to managers. Panelists generously shared their thoughts and experience on how to deal with these challenges. Jagan’s carefully thought-out responses were particularly relevant because they gave the audience a much-needed outside perspective.

Participants give great feedback

Judging from the vast amount of positive feedback, the Executive Forum was a great success and the call for more similar events was loud and clear. Here is what participants said:

“The group discussions, panel discussion, and web broadcasts offered tremendous learning and knowledge-sharing. I was particularly pleased with the composition of the directors’ panel, which included an engineering director (Jagan from EMC) as well as documentation directors from global corporations. We need such feedback, suggestions, and opinions from our stakeholders like engineering directors and product managers, who are usually our internal customers.” – Gururaj B.S, Senior Manager, Information Development, Oracle

“The first ever tcworld Executive Conference was a great first step towards meeting a strong need that exists in the tech writing industry today. Managers' decisions have a huge impact on writers, the company, and the direction of technical writing at large, and it is therefore vital that there are forums in which their unique concerns are discussed. Learning from other people’s experience is a hugely practical and efficient method to solve issues we face and envision other growth possibilities for our teams. This conference provided a great platform for that, with an interesting mix of very relevant topics and an excellent panel discussion. There is no doubt that we need to organize more such meetings!” – Asha Mokashi, Team Manager, ARM

“From the level of enthusiasm and participation, it became apparent that the tcworld Executive Conference was a much needed event. Bringing together potential managers, managers, and directors of technical publication teams to discuss top-of-the-chart issues was a great idea. As the day wore on, it seemed like we were running out of time to learn from the cumulative experience of the attendees. We definitely need more such sessions!” – Anupama A, experienced technical communication professional

“I appreciated the forum’s interactivity, which enabled us to focus on strategy rather than implementation. It is a very good platform to showcase industry best practices and how to work around different advantages and restrictions that exist in the technical writing industry in India. The director panel discussion was a good activity to share ideas and challenges and to learn how directors have overcome them. This exchange of thoughts and experience reiterated the fact that people in similar roles are facing and working around the same situations irrespective of culture and different processes. I hope that in the future we can use this forum to showcase patented achievements and innovations, and also to provide a support group for the management community to discuss and resolve some common burning issues like retention, recognition and further evolution of our roles in the writing industry.” – Pallavi Baruah, Department Head, Documentation, Huawei Technologies

Looking into the future

Akash Dubey, Senior Manager at Cisco and a member of the organization team, summed up the day: “As we all know, one size doesn't fit all. Keeping this in mind, we crafted a one-of-a-kind, exclusive event for documentation project leads, managers, and directors. The response was overwhelming, to say the least. Participants really appreciated the quality of presentations, interaction opportunity, and the new format. They got to do what they do best: collaborate, share, learn, and 'ideate'. Under the tcworld India banner, we are planning more such exciting and trend-setting events. One of them is the tcworld India conference, which is happening in Bangalore in February 2013. You don't want to miss it!”

The third tcworld India conference will be held on February 21-22, 2013 at the Mövenpick Hotel and Spa in Bangalore.