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Rob Turnbull
Rob TurnbullStaff Auditor, First Tech Federal Credit Union
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If I put my top reasons to go to ACL Connections this year as ‘networking’ or ‘education’, that’s as far as most readers of this article would get before they stop reading. I’m guilty of doing that myself. But most of us do attend conferences specifically for those reasons. And while there is certainly value in forming or strengthening relationships or taking in new information, it’s basically what every conference typically aims to do.

So, what separates ACL Connections from rest of the pack? Here are the top three reasons I keep attending ACL Connections:

1. It’s Fun!

Don’t tell your boss that you’re attending this year (in Nashville!) because knowing you’ll have an amazing time, he or she will insist on going in your place. That’s because more than any conference I’ve ever been to, the dedicated people who coordinate Connections go above and beyond to keep everyone engaged and excited. It doesn’t matter if it’s to sit in on a roundtable discussion or to participate in one of the many fantastic get-togethers.

Last year, after a very inspirational leadership presentation given by Alison Levine, a remarkable woman who has completed the ‘Adventure Grand Slam’ (climbed the highest peaks on all seven continents and ventured to both the North and South Poles), ACL taxied everyone to a huge restaurant/gaming business that had bowling, unlimited free arcade games and karaoke. It was a great way to get to know everyone in a non-business setting, and I made some great friends there.

Another example of how ACL fosters engagement and participation differently is through the use of their ACL Connections mobile app. It encourages everyone to post pictures, comment on lecture content, or even to recommend places to go in the local area. The app promotes a sense of community, one that emboldens everyone there to reach out to other attendees and share their experience. While I couldn’t physically meet all of the attendees last year, I was able to use the app to join groups and connect with others I wouldn’t have otherwise.

2. It will put an edge on your professional saw.

There isn’t a snooze-worthy topic taught at Connections. ACL doesn’t focus so much on teaching attendees on how to use ACL better, but rather on how to make everyone more valuable to their organization. Besides having a great time, this is the primary reason I attend every year. ‘Become the most sought after’ has been the running theme for the past few conferences, meaning: does it necessarily matter that someone can create a super complex script, or is it more important to understand how we can leverage the ACL Platform to complement all of our efforts to better our organizations?

With that emphasis in mind, the presenters work at showing us innovate and impactful ways ACL can be usedinstead of the details of actually using it. This approach benefits all skill levels and doesn’t require a particular analytic discipline. There are a wide range of attendees from different backgrounds and industries such as finance, audit, risk, compliance, government—you name it!

I leave Connections every year recharged, invigorated and motivated to break out of my comfort zone. That kind of energy and focus just can’t be had by attending a webinar or reading through a tutorial.

3. It’s an investment in yourself.

If the other reasons don’t get you to Connections, go for the person who will benefit the most from your attendance–you! Find out the best way to get qualified as an ACL Certified Data Analyst (ACDA) to make you more of a ‘sought-after’ asset in your given field. Challenge yourself to learn some of the more advanced topics. Attend the Town Hall with ACL’s CEO and President Laurie Schultz to get a high-level view of ACL, analytics and how to leverage them. Speak with any of the ACL representatives there and ask them for guidance and the resources to make you a better ACL user.

Once you attend, it becomes clear that everyone at ACL, from the CEO down, wants every user to be successful. They enable that truth by ensuring ACL Connections is an interesting and fun event year after year. And whether you’ve been there a dozen times or more, or are attending for the first time, it is much more than your average industry conference—it’s an event to look forward to.


See what’s in store for ACL Connections 2017 here!

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