Whether you’re going to be a first-time attendee at this year’s Workday Rising or you’ve already been to a few, Floyd Walterhouse—who has attended every Workday Rising since the first one in 2007—has some advice for you. We sat down with Walterhouse, IT group manager at McKee Foods Corp., to learn how even after all these years he still gets value out of Workday’s annual customer conference.
As a repeat Workday Rising attendee, what do you look forward to most?
With some vendors you pay a lot of money to listen to them give you a marketing presentation on new features. I don’t find that approach nearly as useful as actually going to something like Workday Rising, where the intention is to help people be more efficient and effective in their operations. Even though there are new features talked about in the sessions, they’re talked about in a way that helps people understand what’s possible and how to best deploy those features. And being able to ask very specific questions to the experts in the sessions is extremely valuable.
In addition, there’s a lot of value in the collaboration that goes on—either in the sessions or in between the cracks, you might say. For me, the informal collaboration with Workday employees, customers, partners, and people you’ve become acquainted with through the Workday Community site is as valuable, or even more valuable, than the sessions themselves.
“I like to meet the new customers just as much as the older ones that I’ve known for a while. It’s a ‘welcome to the family’ type of thing.”
—Floyd Walterhouse, IT group manager at McKee Foods Corp.
What kind of preparation do you do beforehand?
If you’ve got multiple people going from your company, as we do, it’s important to figure out how you’re going to divide and conquer. Spread your coverage out, and then get back together at the end of every day to debrief on the important things you learned. With a bigger team, you definitely need to plan a little more up front to make sure that you’re getting the most strategic advantage out of Workday Rising.
What’s the main piece of advice you’d give to a first-time Workday Rising attendee?
Don’t expect just to sit there and consume. Instead, prepare to reach out and fully participate. Be intentional in your interactions. Think about what you’ve learned about Workday and what challenges you’ve overcome that would have value to other people, and share those. And think about any challenges you still might be having and plan to ask around—whether it be a Workday employee, a partner in the Expo, or another customer. I’d also suggest a note-taking program, like Google Keep, to keep track of what you plan to share and what you’d like to learn.
What keeps you coming back? Is it the people or the knowledge sharing?
Both. I like to meet the new customers just as much as the older ones that I’ve known for a while. I’ve been to other conferences where people get annoyed by the new customers because they don’t want to rehash the things they learned when they started. I don’t see that happening with Workday customers. It’s a “welcome to the family” type of thing. And then, there are all kinds of interesting people that you meet virtually through the Workday Community site that you then get to meet in person. I really enjoy that.
What are the biggest takeaways you tend to reflect on after returning from Workday Rising?
We sort of triage, starting with the most important: Things we can improve on that relate to what we’re doing right now. Next, there are the things that would be good to know for features that we plan to turn on in the near future. Then, third-tier are the things that are coming at a future date from Workday that we want to keep an eye on because we want to help refine the process as Workday prepares for release.
Any advice in terms of how an alumni such as yourself can continue to benefit and ensure their management understands the value of attending Workday Rising year after year?
One of the things we try to do, when we come back as a group and do that debrief, is include management in our recap. We also keep management informed as we’re watching new features coming down the road so they can understand what value those will provide. Sometimes we can get their input into those features up front, and it may sometimes avoid the need to buy software from other vendors with functionality that is soon coming to the Workday system. We have blanket approval to go every year because our leaders see the value of Workday Rising.
Any final words of wisdom?
Come prepared to share what you know, ask and learn about what you’d like to know, and meet an amazingly supportive group of people. Workday Rising is something special.
Read “What to Expect at Workday Rising” for information on our content tracks and features like “Braindate”; see what our CFO, CIO, and Chief People Officer find most valuable at Workday Rising; and watch customers talk about their favorite moments at last year’s event.