April 13, 2015

There’s Fun in the Air along with Intense Learning: A first-time attendee shares his 15NTC experience

What’s it like to attend the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC)? I was fortunate to meet first-time NTC attendee, Ravi Ponnapalli, who shared about his rookie NTC experience.

1. What is your job title? Can you tell us a little more about your organization and the work that you do there?

Ravi: My title is Manager, Enterprise Applications. I am the manager of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) applications at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDA) for the last 3 years. I manage and lead a team of 10 analysts to provide systems support to several internal and external MDA customers through a few off-the-shelf and homegrown IT applications. It is a big challenge just keeping up with all of the dynamically changing priorities that my team is engaged in, but it is also very exciting as I watch them strive to deliver exemplary service every day. I am proud to be a part of the team that aspires to make cancer history.

2. How did you hear about the NTC? Were you familiar with NTEN and its other programs?

Ravi: Working for a nonprofit organization, it is very natural to hear about the NTC. In my first year at MDA, I came to know about the NTC and I tried to attend, but wasn’t able to due to schedule conflicts. However, I didn’t give up! Finally, I came across NTEN and its other programs and I gained deeper insights into those programs at the 15NTC.

3. Tell us a little bit about your experience as a first-time attendee.

Ravi: From the venue (Austin Convention Center), all the way to the conclusion activities of the event, I would say that the 15NTC has been well-organized. The plenary sessions and the breakout sessions were very engaging and educational. The booths in the science fair were informative, ushering into new thoughts. The facilities for the attendees were up to the mark. It was awesome to network with some of the best professionals in the industry. To summarize it in one sentence, it was a very positive learning and networking experience.

4. What did you learn at NTC that you’ll be taking back to put into action at your organization?

Ravi: I think that I gained deeper insights on some of the trends in the technological world. The opportunities in terms of awareness of a variety of solutions from different vendors, best practices and next practices implemented by a few organizations comparable to MDA, and emerging technical tools that we could leverage are a few things I would like to share within my Information Services organization, with a request to take action on at least a few opportunities.

5. Are you planning on using other NTEN programs/resources? If so, which ones? (e.g., the discussion forums, blog, webinars, Leading Change Summit, etc.)?

Ravi: Yes. I started visiting the forums and blogs periodically. I plan to enroll in a few webinars, depending on the topics and my availability.

6. What was one (or a few) of your favorite moments?

Ravi: It felt great to be a part of a nonprofit network that included a wide variety of causes to support humanity internationally through different areas of the sector. I enjoyed the feel and thought throughout the event—the more I learned, the more excited I was! The ping-pong at the end of the event was another favorite moment. Not only did I make it to the semi-finals but also, it gave a wonderful opportunity to network with many, and befriend others quickly. After three days of intense learning, fun was in the air.

One of the vendors had a set-up for crazy photos. I got some nice (obviously crazy) pictures that I could look at and laugh.

ravi ponnapalli photo booth
ravi ponnapalli photo booth

Ravi also gave us some great feedback on the 15NTC that echoed many of wins, fails, and lessons learned that we took away from all of the 15NTC community feedback.

Ready for more conference action? Register now for the 17NTC March 23–25 in Washington, DC.

Megan Keane
Megan is a long-time San Francisco bay area resident with an extensive nonprofit background in community management, social media, and volunteer management. She's a problem solver and network builder passionate about connecting with people both on and offline. As NTEN's Membership Director, Megan supports the NTEN community, helping others connect, learn, and make the most of technology, and has spoken internationally on nonprofit technology. While she's not online, Megan can be found teaching or practicing yoga, hiking, or curling up with a good book. She's also a self-professed penguin nutcase, er, enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter: @penguinasana
Tags: Community