Rome wasn't built in a day...

The main campus at the University of Bath
Woah... I am tired... I just got back from a return visit to the Institutional Web Managers Workshop which this year was held in the city of Bath. The theme of the conference was 'Managing Change' and with the shake up introduced to the sector in the form of tuition fees, as well as this possibly being the last IWMW (due to funding cuts),  it was extremely apt. Each plenary session had clear undertones of how things are now very different for staff in higher education, there is no longer a guarantee of a job for life and return on investment is more important than ever.

These conferences are unique in that they have good representation from the vast majority of UK web teams and have a great mix of sharing best practice, learning new things and therapy sessions! The parts I particularly enjoyed was the opportunity to speak to other universities about what is working for them at the moment. This happened in two sessions which focused on social media and analytics and how they are being used. I was really pleased to come away feeling what we are doing is up there with the best and that the effort we're putting into tracking all of our campaigns is really paying off. This was also evident during one of the lectures delivered by our friend Ranjit from SID. He went to great lengths to showcase to everyone all the work done by us during clearing last year and the benefits it had on recruitment.

Taking a break on campus between lectures
Two talks which had a real effect on me were those delivered by Paul Boag from Headscape and Neil Denny from allLD. They benefited from having great presentation skills and from not being afraid to tell it like it is. I agreed with the vast majority of Paul's talk which basically stated that instead of feeling hard done-by it's up to us to make a change to the way we're perceived professionally. Only by being proactive, outspoken and full of ideas will we be respected and given the resources we need to innovate. It also ended with a great quote from Grace Hooper that 'It's Easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission', so instead of acting like victims we just need to take the bull by the horns (something I wholeheartedly agree with!)

The Roman baths in the early evening
No trip to Bath would be complete without a visit to the Roman baths themselves and we were fortunate enough to have the place to ourselves on the second evening's drinks reception. It was truly breathtaking and highly recommended to anyone who is in the area. We also had a chance to catch up with our good friends at Squiz and Funnelback who did a great job of keeping us entertained as well as discussing some of the big projects we have on the go at the moment - it's great to see them expanding yet further in HE and they are busier than ever before.

Finally, there was a good session on working with developers and the benefits of having an in house team or outsourcing, the usual mentions of responsive web design and lots of thinly veiled recommendations on the need for Agile project management. No doubt my favourite quote cited in a presentation was one from Winston Churchill: 'Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm'. A great message and hopefully one that is taken on board by the organisers so they can continue to keep this event going into the future...
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