This General Session began differently from all of the others that I have attended – I was asked to arrive early, go to a secured entrance that contained a list of “special guests”, and I needed to bring my wife Jade. Getting to see the General Session area prior to the doors opening was a new & unique experience –
Not knowing what to do, we walked up to a group of SolidWorks employees near the stage. Fortunately, one of them asked if they could help us, when we explained that we were told to be there, they said that there were seating assignments, and they helped us find our seats (“rock star seating” does not even begin to describe our spots) –
(Yes, my wife’s “assigned seat” was right next to Jeff Ray) – For the handful of you that don’t recognize the name, Jeff is the former CEO of SolidWorks. He was recently promoted to Executive Vice President of Geographic Operations for Dassault Systemes. He’s a pretty big deal within the SolidWorks Community, but more importantly, he’s a super nice guy – I talked to Jeff and his wife for quite a while at the tweet-up on Sunday night.
There is nothing quite like getting to see the surge of attendees enter the General Session from our vantage point –
Since San Antonio is his hometown, Jeff Ray was the obvious choice to kick off the General Session. Jeff talked about the rescue of the Chilean miners, as well as a new product for treating jaundice in infants from Design that Matters, and even recognized a small contingent of die hard attendees that have NEVER missed a SolidWorks World. Jeff also introduced Bertrand Sicot, the newly appointed SolidWorks CEO. After thanking the SolidWorks development team and discussing the growing number of DraftSight downloads, Bertrand said this –
This clip was taken from the SolidWorks Video of the Day 1 General Session, the complete video can (and should) be viewed here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3BbfGb-Al4
While Bertrand was talking about us, this is the image that was on the big screen behind him –
This image was taken by Ricky Jordan, and was found on the Flickr SolidWorks World 2011 photo collection, which can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=SolidWorks+World+2011
A little bit of trivia about the photos that were shown: They were all from our actual wedding, which took place on top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas during Solidworks World 2006. We exchanged our vows and then we were launched high above the Vegas skyline on the Big Shot. We even met the Mythbusters (the special guests at World that year) when we returned to the conference after getting married!
I was still in a state of shock about our little “surprise” when they brought out the keynote speakers Gene Krantz and Jim Lovell. Everyone should remember them for their roles in saving the Apollo 13 mission from imminent disaster. Gene was at mission control and Jim was in the space capsule. They had to work together as a team despite the fact that they weren’t even on the same planet at the time! One of the details that amazed me the most during their presentation was how young they were at the time – most of the people involved in the mission were in their twenties! I have always been a HUGE fan of the space program – NASA truly epitomizes the idea that if you work hard enough, anything is possible. This was easily one of the best keynote speeches that I have ever seen period. If you don’t believe me, use the youtube link above to watch their presentation – In-cred-ible!