SpiceWorld: Insight from 7 IT pros aka SpiceHeads

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The ninth annual SpiceWorld conference was hosted in Austin, TX by the IT pro community, Spiceworks. The event had a lot to live up to, billed as “The most happenin’ IT conference around! It’s where IT pros and tech marketers come together to learn, meet, and play as they share tech tips, feast on Texas BBQ, and have one heck of a time.”

Did it live up to the hype for IT pros? We let SpiceHeads decide! We polled a variety of attendees from different IT backgrounds to share their insight about the sessions and speakers, the vendors, what they found valuable and their overall experience. Get the SpiceWorld scoop straight from SpiceHeads:

AdamAdam aka aheusdens

Director of IT, CCB Technology
Racine, WI

Number of SpiceWorlds: 2

Favorite SpiceWorld experiences: Getting to meet and speak with vendors that I was not familiar with, meeting Jeffrey Snover (the inventor of Windows PowerShell) and hearing from and speaking with other like-minded IT professionals.

Favorite session: PowerShell V5 Unplugged – I got to hear from and meet Jeffrey Snover who is a pioneer in the field of Microsoft products. I was impressed Spiceworks brought in such a big name.

What I learned that I can use right away: How to better track day-to-day tasks to formulate better discussions during employee reviews.

What I learned that will help in future projects: PowerShell can and should be used when possible within a Microsoft environment.

Why I recommend SpiceWorld: It’s a very casual and informative event that really strives to be exactly what an IT professional would want to experience without any of the sales fluff.

What else you should know: Don’t start a carb-free diet right before the event!

Fun fact about me: I have a small collection of over 200 original NES games.

ToddTodd aka toddjuenemann

IT Administrator, Stoffel Equipment Co Inc
Milwaukee, WI

Number of SpiceWorlds: 2

Favorite SpiceWorld experience: Getting to talk with some vendors without being pressured to buy their product. Meeting and talking with the CCB folks, of course.

Favorite session: I attended Project Management for IT Pros with Tony and Katie (fellow SpiceHeads), and got a lot of great tips on how to manage all of my current and future projects.

What I learned that I can use right away: Project Management and PowerShell tips.

What I learned that will help in future projects: How to manage projects better and what tools to use that are either free or low cost.

Why I recommend SpiceWorld: It’s a great place to meet with vendors and not be pressured to buy, and also a great way to talk and meet with other like-minded people in a low pressure environment.

Fun fact about me about me: I spent a month traveling Europe after graduating college in the mid 90s.

HarryHarry aka HarryLincc

Systems Administrator, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Mills River, North Carolina

Number of SpiceWorlds: This was my first.

Favorite SpiceWorld experience: I enjoyed the side conversations almost as much as the presentations. Also the happy hour beverages made conversation with vendors and participants flow like “water.”

Favorite session: I enjoyed the Basic PowerShell Tool-Making because although I am familiar with PowerShell, I’ve never had formal instruction, and Rob Dunn (from Practice Velocity) helped explain the whys as well as the hows of PowerShell.

Best vendor: I plead the fifth.

What I learned that I can use right away: The Netwrix Auditor program came up a few times. I looked into this when I got back to the office and downloaded the freeware version. Setup was quick and easy and the information it provides, even in the free version, is great.

What I learned that will help in future projects: There are a number of tools out there to help with project management (starting with a notebook).

Why I recommend SpiceWorld: The sessions provide good information, there are a number of diverse vendors to speak to, and the camaraderie is unmatched in my local IT community.

What else you should know: Austin is a great destination and SpiceWorld makes transportation convenient with their shuttles.

Fun fact about me: I enjoy making beer and was blown away by all of the local options in Austin.

DarnellDarnell aka dgranberry

IT Manager, Braeger Company of Wisconsin
Milwaukee, WI

Number of SpiceWorlds: 1

Favorite SpiceWorld experience: Being able to actually talk to the creators of Spiceworks.

Favorite session: Are you an IT JOAT (Jack of All Trades)? – With the many hats I wear, I felt as though he was speaking directly to me.

Best vendor: Cisco Meraki – I use them now and had a lot of my questions answered.

What I learned that I can use right away: Tracking my time and accomplishments.

What I learned that will help in future projects: Tame the Savage Beast Called Group Policies –  I’ll be setting up Active Directory in the near future.

Why I recommend SpiceWorld: The camaraderie. The networking. The vendors. The parties.

What else you should know: I really enjoyed the SpiceWorld Newbie Bootcamp. I think it’s a must for all first-timers. It sets the stage for the conference.

Fun fact about me: I have a fire pit that I use year-round and a beer fridge to keep me company. I also jumped out of a perfectly good airplane after eight hours of training.

JohnJohn aka John Caven 

IT Manager, Capri Communities
Waukesha, WI
SpiceCorps of Milwaukee Leader

Number of SpiceWorlds: 2016 was the first one!

Favorite SpiceWorld experience: Chatting with other Spiceheads from around the country.

Favorite session: Basic PowerShell Tool-Making with Rob Dunn. Very useful technical knowledge and tools to use and apply right away.

Best vendor: The Spiceworks Hub helped with some problem resolution and changes that were able to be applied right away. HPE for SpiceCorps meeting support.

What I learned that I can use right away: Management tips for running my department.

What I learned that will help in future projects: A variety of tips, but also built relationships with other SpiceHeads to contact when working on a variety of projects this next year.

Why I recommend SpiceWorld: Because of the sharing of technical knowledge and approaches that are effective for others that you can try.

What else you should know: SpiceWorld not only allowed me to spend time with SpiceHeads from other areas and hear their challenges and ways to solve them, but it also opened the door to developing friendships.

Fun fact about me: I am the last of seven siblings and have seven children myself. (I am also an oversized Leprechaun.)

BenBen aka Ben8917

Systems Administrator, Western Guaranty Fund Services
Denver, Colorado

Number of SpiceWorlds: Just the one.

Favorite SpiceWorld experience: The community for sure. I’ve been talking to other SpiceHeads and Spiceworks employees for a while. It’s nice to finally meet face-to-face and have entirely too much beer. 😉

Favorite session: Security Awareness for Real People – There has been a huge cyber security push in my office lately. That one really helped put it in terms end users could understand.

Best vendor: Probably Mimecast, but I was already looking to hook up with them and talk to an engineer before deploying their product in the office.

What I learned that I can use right away: Security Awareness for Real People – and integrating that into my cybersecurity awareness training for end users.

What I learned that will help in future projects: All of it? LOL. There was a ton of excellent info related to that. It’s hard to unpack it all.

What else you should know: Take it easy with the late nights out and you’ll learn more. And if at all possible, stay off the grid when it comes to company emails and phone calls unless it’s an emergency. I was interrupted waaaaay too much.

Fun fact about me: I can (almost) recite the entire dialog from Dr. Horrible’s sing-a-long blog.

TimTim aka Tim Loga

Director of IT Services at a public library
Chicago, IL
SpiceCorps of Chicagoland Leader

Number of SpiceWorlds: TWO – 2015 and 2016 – but plan to go to 2017. 🙂

Favorite SpiceWorld experience: Meeting and talking with fellow IT folks who use Spiceworks and often deal with some of the same issues I do every day at work. These conversations often lead to getting to know the person better by learning their background, experience and ideas. I’ve come away from these conversations inspired to be working in IT.

Favorite session: Move to Office 365 – I knew nothing about Office 365 and it convinced me to really consider implementing it.

Best vendor: I always enjoy the HP booth – this year they had live magic tricks and gift card giveaways.

What I learned that I can use right away: Moving towards Office 365.

What I learned that will help in future projects: I’ll be looking at our group policies to make sure they adhere to best practices.

Why I recommend SpiceWorld: Learning, meeting, and having fun!

What else you should know: The party at Austin City Limits this year was wild 🙂

Fun fact about me: I get grumpy if I go more than 2 days without going for a run.

Thank you for sharing a slice of SpiceWorld with us!

For even more SpiceWorld 2016 insight, you can read what other SpiceHeads are saying in this Spiceworks discussion.

One of the best and easily overlooked features about SpiceWorld that hasn’t been mentioned yet, is Spiceworks’ openness and ability to improve the event each year based upon what attendees share in session surveys and online discussions.

CCB at Spiceworks HQ

Left to right: Jake Jones, Corporate Account Manager, Nicole Shortslef, Media Communications Specialist, Adam Heusdens, Director of IT

This was CCB’s second year bringing IT pros and tech marketers to SpiceWorld, and we have already purchased our tickets for next year. It’s been a worthwhile investment to meet and learn from experts and like-minded individuals who can share their experiences.

Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of SpiceWorld – will you be there for “the most happenin’ IT conference around?”

Nicole Shortslef
Nicole specializes in all things media – handling CCB's social media, photography and video. She is also CCB’s Green Gal in the IT pro community Spiceworks, building relationships with IT pros across the country.

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