Last week I was able to attend another regional conference and present not once, but twice, to our great membership. This time it was at the HFTP Mid-West Regional Conference in Milwaukee. This is only their second regional and I have to say they did an amazing job from start to finish. Congrats to the organizing committee for all of their hard work and dedication.
The conference started off on Thursday with an exhibitor meet and greet that included a cocktail reception. The room was busy as everyone came to register and network with each other. It was a great way to start off the conference and get everyone in the mood. After the official welcome reception concluded the “unofficial” one started. Various groups went out to dinner but somehow a majority of people ended the night in the lobby bar enjoying themselves and watching the double OT game between the St Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. Apparently there are quite a few Blackhawks fans in attendance who ultimately ended the night happy.
Friday the conference education kicked off. Friday was dedicated to job knowledge and improvement and saw a number of very interesting topics. The day had two highlights for me. The first being one of our global past presidents, Tom Smith, presenting the session, “The CFO Journey – Best Practices and Approaches” where Tom reminded us of some of the simpler things to do to be more effective in our jobs. It was interesting to hear the number of attendees later that night who had already put some of Tom’s teachings into practice. The other highlight was the first ever joint session with another regional. Since the HFTP Texas Regional was going on at the same time, a web session was done thru google meetups. Global Vice President, Lyle Worthington,CHTP presented from Texas, on the topic “Securing Payments, PCI and EMV”. It was great to see technology being used to bring the two regionals together. Lyle did an excellent job in breaking down EMV, chip and signature, chip and pin, as well as other areas of concern.
Friday night then had a wonderful and invigorating social event. A bus arrived to take all of the attendees on a “Club Crawl” to three of Milwaukee’s finest clubs. The night started with Apps and Drinks at the Milwaukee Yacht Club where we enjoyed looking out directly onto Lake Michigan. The night air was crisp and clear and the view was spectacular. Many attendees were taking selfies with the lake, boats and water in the background. We all then loaded back onto the bus and headed to dinner at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, a 13 story building in the middle of the city with unique artwork and design. The club boasts a number of bars, private rooms, restaurants, athletic facilities, a 13th floor outdoor deck, and best of all my friend Nicole as their Controller. We toured a number of the floors and even ventured out onto the 13th floor outdoor deck. The views were great and had it been warmer (or for me much warmer) we probably would have all wanted to eat outside. The night continued with the group hopping on the bus and heading to the Wisconsin Athletic Club. There we were treated to mini pastries, cherries jubilee and bananas foster. The club was actual a large residence over 100 years ago for General Mitchell. It is an amazing piece of architecture and design. As the night drew to a close, we all reluctantly hopped back on the bus for a ride back to the hotel. Once back at the hotel, as is HFTP tradition, a large group ended up back in the lobby bar. More networking and fun ensued as we talked the night away and got to know new friends and catch up with old ones.
Saturday came a bit too early as we once again had more education. This time sessions were devoted to personal and professional development. I was able to give my public speaking class to the group, which I always enjoy giving. However the highlight of the day was Derek Deprey’s “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” session. His interactive style and the fun and energy he created made for an excellent day. If you ever have the chance to see Derek speak or get him for a session, I highly recommend it. You will not be sorry.
Then around noon, the conference came to an end. It was with sadness that I said goodbye to some of my good friends that attended. I hope to be able to attend again next year and maybe even be able to speak (hint for next year’s organizing committee). The next regional up is the Florida regional. I can’t wait for this one. It should be easy to attend. My hotel is hosting it.