Did you know, you don't need to work in government, and you don't need a tent.
If GovCamp Cymru and unconferences are new to you - find out how others experienced their first time at GovCamp Cymru.
And how coming to GovCamp Cymru made a difference to them - in some cases, changing the shape of their career paths!
Over to you Gwenda...
Gwenda Owen - Cycle campaigner @BeicioGwenda
I can’t quite remember how I heard about Gov Camp Cymru, I was about to launch into self-employment having worked in the third sector for years. I’d never worked in the public sector so wasn’t sure Gov Camp Cymru was for me, but I was looking for new opportunities and people to explore ideas with so I booked my tickets and turned up despite the anxieties thinking I might be the wrong sort of person to go to such an event.
I generally find conferences a bit of a bore.
Too much time is spent listening to people who often aren’t saying things you need to hear. As soon as I arrived and grabbed my coffee it was clear that this day was going to be different.
Everyone was there because they wanted to be and it seemed that many of us were at our first unconference and not everyone was a public sector worker, so I didn’t feel out of place as I’d feared.
It was such fun, so many interesting and interested people all looking to find solutions to problems in a collaborative way. Many of the initial thoughts and ideas I tested out with others at that first unconference I went on to develop and put into practice. And I enjoyed it so much that I went back the next year and the next!
Next up, Emma...
Corporate Director of Housing, Communities and Customers
Valleys to Coast Housing
All too often we go to conferences, networks and meetings very much based on our expertise silos, for me this is the 'social housing bubble'. I love seeing my internal and external housing colleagues at a tenant engagement webinar, then a few weeks later at the ASB conference, then later on at the national housing events but I often wondered if there were other kindred souls out there.
My long tenure in housing has given me a great subject matter network that has often developed into friendships and enables me to develop the very best practice in my job by sharing ideas with the best in the business but sometimes I wish I could see different faces and talk about different things.
It was this niggle, this yearning to see something different that led me to GovCamp Cymru with no real previous understanding of what an unconference was or what GovCamp Cymru could deliver. It was here I met Neil Tamplin, a specialist turn generalist, an expert in IT and digital services and an agile enthusiast.
I realised that he was an individual who was interesting and knowledgeable in areas I knew almost nothing about but really liked the sound of. Here started my GovCamp Cymru network and following on from that I developed my understanding of service design and this led me to Polly Thompson, Howard Merrett and Marie Kiff all of who spoke passionately about service design, insights, and user research.
These became my ways of working, brothers and sisters, a network of like-minded souls with the enthusiasm to change the world... or at least change their corner of the world.
In the years to come, I was lucky enough to end up working with these people.
I chose to work at Valley to Coast because there was a group of like-minded thinkers that all started at GovCamp Cymru or maybe it was at Beer Camp afterwards but whatever it was the start of a very valuable network for me.
So, let’s hear from Neil now…
Digital Services Manager
Valleys to Coast Housing Association
I attended my first GovCamp Cymru in 2016. I’m an introvert by default, so thrusting myself into an event where I wasn’t sure what I’d be talking about or who I might talk to was not an immediately obvious choice. However, three factors compelled me to push myself out of my comfort zone and go along.
Number 1, a number of people I followed on Twitter were attending and it was an excellent opportunity to finally put a face to a name and have a conversation that wasn’t restricted to 140 characters.
Number 2, the topics of conversation that had been tweeted out of the event fascinated me. At the time, I didn’t really know anyone who I could talk to about things like service design. This seemed like a golden opportunity to meet people who were interested in the same things as me.
Number 3, even watching from afar, I was hooked by the positive can-do vibe for improving public services and how generous people seemed to be with their knowledge and time.
Looking back at my notes from GovCamp Cymru 2016, I’m struck by how this day connected me with interesting people doing interesting things and how this experience would go on to inform my thinking and approach to work in the coming years.
Many of the topics we talked about in 2016 turned out to be very prescient.
How do we put humanity back into systems and processes?
Do we need a Welsh Government Digital Service?
How might we encourage organisations to publish open data?
How might we better organise to reduce siloes, reduce egos and improve transparency and autonomy?
Return visits to GovCamp Cymru in the years that followed would continue to provide buckets of learning and ideas. All for the princely sum of £0!
I challenge any other event for such an astoundingly good return on investment.
I think it might be an understatement to say it’s been a challenging couple of years since we last got together, but on the upside, there’s so much for us to talk about and do! I’m really looking forward to it and I hope you can join us too.
We love to see new faces at GovCamp Cymru. You can be assured of a warm welcome.
If you're interested in attending, here's what to do next.
plan to be in Cardiff all day (and evening if you'd like) on Friday 17 June
make a diary marker to get your ticket :
"Standard" tickets - midday 17 March
"Catch up" tickets - midday 5 May
(warning: early bird tickets sold out in less than 24 hours)
You may also wish to volunteer on the day. We're looking for around 15 people (who will be guaranteed tickets and get a rather swanky t-shirt) to help out with things like liaising with the caterers, directing people to the right place, taking photos, checking people in at the door, handing out badges, taking people to the after-party, sorting out a music playlist and more...! No prior experience is required.