Mark Clark isn’t afraid to go exploring. In fact, when I talked with him during his recent visit to Oracle headquarters, he had just returned from the mountains—where he had a run-in with a mother bear and her cubs. Now out of harm’s way, he says he’s ready for another adventure. This time, Clark will be undertaking new explorations as Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) president, a role in which he hopes to extend the user group’s activities to other regions of the world.
“I’d like to see OAUG expand geographically,” says Clark, a 20-year veteran of OAUG who has served in a variety of positions with the organization, including membership chairman and executive committee member. “Traditionally, OAUG has been very strong in North America. A lot of our members are making their first trips globally, pushing forward to Brazil or Asia, and they want information from their peers on the pros and cons, the challenges, and the pitfalls.”
Global exploration, says Clark, will include building on events such as OAUG Connection Point—Dubai, a two-day education and networking event. The third annual OAUG Connection Point—Dubai event in March attracted more than 300 attendees from all over the Middle East and featured Cliff Godwin, senior vice president of applications development at Oracle, who provided an update on the Oracle E-Business Suite product line. Conference topics included new features in Oracle E-Business Suite 12, upgrade best practices, and enterprise performance management.
OAUG has also expanded its horizons by partnering with the German Oracle Users Group (DOAG) on the DOAG Applications Conference in May. At this three-day event, the spotlight was on Oracle Fusion Applications, with Oracle representatives presenting the next generation of Oracle Applications.Networking Still Rules
OAUG’s global reach with education and networking events makes sense, given Oracle’s growth in the applications area. “When OAUG first started, Oracle was just expanding from database into applications,” Clark says. “There were very few sources for information about the applications. Peer-to-peer was probably one of the best ways to get information.” Now that Oracle’s applications offerings are broader, OAUG members need to find information that is relevant to their specific needs. But with so much information available online about Oracle Applications, from a variety of sources, Clark says that networking is more important than ever. “Finding that person you can network with and communicate with is key,” he says.Education and networking, in fact, top the OAUG member wish list. “We survey our members every year to find out what’s important. The first is educational events, the second is networking opportunities, and the third is for OAUG to have a good interactive relationship with Oracle,” Clark says.
Oracle OpenWorld presents an optimal opportunity for education, networking, and interacting with Oracle developers and product managers. At the upcoming conference (October 2 to 6, 2011) OAUG is offering 50 sessions at User Group Sunday (October 2) geared toward both geographic and special interest groups. OAUG will also offer 30 sessions over the course of the week on topics including master data management and Oracle Fusion Applications.Give Back
As we wrapped up our interview, Clark promised to limit his wildlife adventures to his family’s new pet—a retired Greyhound. He also shared his advice for new OAUG members, likening new membership to working with a new Oracle application. “From an implementation standpoint, we always try to do a sandbox instance, and we encourage people to roll up their sleeves and really interact with Oracle,” Clark explains. “I would talk to new members the same way. I’d encourage them to join the user group, get involved, attend a special interest group or local geographic group meeting. And then think about giving a presentation on their own—or evangelizing the OAUG message throughout their organization.”
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Photography by Paul Frenzel, Unsplash