SHARE St. Louis: A Preview of the zNextGen Agenda

SHARE St. Louis is rapidly approaching (August 12–17, 2018) and with it comes a full slate of technical sessions and networking opportunities for participants in the zNextGen Project. As project manager Warren Harper explained in a recent interview, the zNextGen track at each SHARE conference is specifically designed for mainframe professionals who are new to the industry and still looking to learn the ropes and make connections.

“Most zNextGen attendees just joined right out of college, or they previously worked in the distributed world and just started in mainframe,” Harper explained. “Our sessions are designed to focus on the fundamentals of mainframe technology, as well as non-technical sessions to help develop career skills and make the most out of a job in this industry.”

This year’s zNextGen program agenda includes 24 total sessions, covering a wide range of topics. On Monday, attendees will receive introductions to CICS, Linux, and MQ, among other technologies. Sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday will touch on mainframe security and data protection, while Thursday includes a “beyond the basics” course on the ISPF editor. The agenda is also peppered with career development sessions throughout the week, including talks about mentoring, training millennial hires, and increasing retention among young mainframe professionals.

The volunteer-led zNextGen project builds its agenda for each semi-annual SHARE event based on a call for presenters and input from previous attendees. The zNextGen sessions draw between 150 and 200 first-time attendees every event. Introductory sessions are always a top request among people who are new to mainframe and not yet familiar with industry vocabulary, Harper said.

“Mainframe veterans like to use a lot of abbreviations or terms you might not necessarily know if you’ve never worked in this environment before,” he said. “We avoid that in these sessions so you can develop a fundamental understanding of the technology and the industry.”

Networking is also an important part of the program, and to that end, zNextGen has included a first-time attendee happy hour at 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 12, and a special dinner for project participants at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 13.

“A lot of times you go to a conference and it seems like everyone already knows each other and you’re the only new person. We’re hoping these networking opportunities make it easier for newer people and help them get to know other attendees who are new to the industry or new to the platform,” Harper said.

A few items on the schedule jump out at Harper as must-attend sessions. On Monday at 3:15 p.m., he and Reg Harbeck will host the zNextGen project opening and keynote titled, “Ten Thousand Mainframes Today, A Million Tomorrow.” Harbeck will discuss his vision for the future of the industry, and the trends that he believes will lead to a massive increase in the number of active mainframes in-use at global corporations.

“Reg is really optimistic about the future of the mainframe, and it should be very interesting to hear his perspective,” Harper said.

Later in the week, IBM’s Joe Winchester will discuss the resources and tools that are making the mainframe more accessible than ever to the next generation of mainframe professionals. On Thursday morning, IBM software engineers Luisa Martinez and Michael Snihur will present a session about how recent college graduates can develop leadership skills, adapt to the workplace, and navigate corporate life.

Harper also has a tip for first-time attendees: make time to attend the project opening session in your topic of interest.

“If you work in security, for example, make sure to go to the security project opening. You’ll meet the subject matter experts at IBM in your area of interest, which is really useful for both education and networking purposes,” he explained.

No matter the topic of interest, thought, attendees should always make the most of their SHARE opportunity to learn about mainframe technology and make connections.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to learn fundamental mainframe skills and make lasting professional connections. Be sure to register for SHARE St. Louis, August 12-17, to attend these and other zNextGen Project sessions.

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