It was six years ago when I had made plans to visit Krakow. I never set these plans into action because life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. So when the main organisers Kuba Zwoliński and Marta Molińska from Snowdog announced that this year’s Meet Magento in Poland would take place in Krakow, I was easily convinced to go there.

Like any novel’s protagonist, there was some trouble to overcome before life got better. So while on the road to Meet Magento Poland, people travelling to Krakow already shared their stories of delays. My flight was no exception. So everyone was very happy when they finally arrived in second biggest city of Poland and more precisely at the VIP Pre-Party for speakers and sponsors.
There was some serious catching up to do. The Magebabies keep coming!

Old buildings, new ideas

On Monday morning, everyone gathered for the grand event opening. The two day event was organised by Bold and Snowdog who had done a fantastic job of filling the old building in Krakow’s Jewish quarter with life.

Headless it is

Right after the opening, there was a keynote by Hatimeria, represented by Jamie Maria Schouren and Michał Wujas, about their new project called Deity. It’s a microservice platform approach that is completely headless. The details how this will be made available to the greater public are not determined yet.

Talk about content

I missed the talk in order to prepare for mine. As always, life happened and all imaginable technical problems occurred. As a speaker, I much appreciated how the organisers handled the issue. The more nervous they got, the more relaxed I was. Thank you again! Finally, everything was working as planned and I was ready to hold my talk.
It was the same topic as at Meet Magento DE this year, “Content Commerce in Practice”, but with some reworked slides and improved content. It always takes some takes to get your talk right so I was happy to have this second take of it.

Since Kuba had already announced the Pac-Man Rule during the opening of Meet Magento Poland, I only mentioned at the end of my talk that anyone who would like to talk to me about it was more than welcome. And it worked! I had some great conversations about content creation and other topics afterwards.

Project management with a customer success focus

While I much enjoyed the “hallway track”, there were also a number of other remarkable talks. For example, there was Brent Peterson who gave some great tips how your clients will enjoy working together with your agency. Bottomline: Communicate. Make sure that obstacles are talked about as soon as possible. Adding features to the scope must mean a change of the timeline (and invoice) too. An agency that says “yes” to everything sets the client to auto-pilot which is not good.
I especially liked Brent’s advice to measure and record client satisfaction everytime you speak. Then you realise early when the climate changes and can react accordingly to make sure everyone still enjoys working on the project.

There’s more to a conference than talks

Virtual vertigo

This trip was not only the first visit to Poland for me, but also my first experience of Virtual Reality. During a rollercoaster ride I almost felt the wind in my face and my stomach riding the loops and corkscrews. I was already impressed but the balancing act on a wodden plank on a rooftop was more intense than I could have imagined. The edge of the real wodden plank and the visuals provided by the VR glasses created an incredible mix of emotions. I’m pretty sure there is a peak in my heart rate monitor at that time… While others dared to jump off the plank, I preferred to walk back to the safe area. I’m not really into near death experiences, not even if they are only virtual.

The After Show Party

In the evening of the first day, an after show event invited everyone to walk to the river and enjoy the evening on a boat. There were some bottlenecks (pun intended) in the drinks delivery process. You could easily ignore them by indulging in the buffet instead. Soup, main course, finger food and dessert, it was all really good.

Day Two, dividing the attendees by three

On Tuesday, the attendees split into three main groups: Those attending the Magento 2 Tech workshop by Anton Kril, another group in the main hall learning about Magento from an Admin Panel perspective and the rest attending the talks in the business track.

Values before skills

Inchoo’s CEO Tomislav Bilić shared insights how the Croatian agency grew their team. For them, it’s more important that a new employees shares the company’s values than that their tech skills are top notch. Knowledge is easier taught than values. But if the company’s values are not lived in everyday work, they will soon be less and less vivid in the minds of the employees. As a third important factor to growing a team, Tomislav mentioned strict reactions to unwanted behaviour, whether it’s programming or communicating with colleagues. Like many other companies, Inchoo too sees difficulties in finding new employees. So they have turned to local universities and promoted the approach of one central advocate who collects the input from several companies and shares it with the university. Snowdog is currently on a similar path. They have created a course of study that is part of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań in this winter semester.

Transforming thoughts

Slava from Atwix had a more cryptic title for his presentation: it was all about transformation. As a seasoned traveller roaming the world, he has seen a lot in the last months that made him question his beliefs. Stories of self-doubt, reconsidering his own behaviour, comparing shortterm to longterm effects, he held a compelling narrative. With little brain-twisters he got the audience’s attention. Afterwards, I did indeed google the answer to his questions, checking the facts twice. It’s hard to summarise his presentation since it had much to do with moving the audience, not educating them with any tech knowledge but planting the seeds in their minds to let thoughts bloom.

New perspectives: see the web with fresh eyes

A completely new experience for me was a talk by Anna Karoń that contained a live-presentation using a screenreader. It’s a revelation to “hear” a website and all of its navigation pitfalls, the dead ends of configurable products. Like Anna pointed out: building accessible websites has similar consequences as accessible structures in cities. While they are meant for certain minorities, they have a positive impact on the lives of the majority, making it easier for them, too.
It’s also great to see that Magento 2’s basic Luma theme is much ahead of Magento 1’s Madison Island theme. Also, Magento 2.2 brings even more improvements to Luma theme’s accessibility.

All in

One more talk I would like to mention here is Sherrie Rohde’s talk on building an inclusive community. As the community manager of Magento and a sociable soul, it’s her aim to welcome anyone to the Magento ecosystem and make sure they enjoy interacting with the other individuals, whether that’s online in forums, on social media, or in real life at conferences.
The Magento ecosystem continues to grow, which means there is going to be a big gap between job vacancies and available people. Studies indicate that this gap is growing, too. We simply can’t afford to scare anyone off or shoot down their application when they don’t look like the ideal candidate at the first glance. The different facets of diversity like gender, ethnicity, age, education, sexual orientation, social background etc should be recognized as a chance to build a web that is open to anyone. Linking it with Anna Karoń’s talk, more diverse perspectives will ultimately lead to building better solutions.

Ask Magento Anything

For one hour and an extra 5 minutes, Ben Marks, Kai Schmithuesen (Territory Sales Manager) and Markus Wittich (Customer Success Manager) answered all questions asked by the audience. Compared to previous Ask Me Anything sessions, the questions really were questions, not just comments. The three Magento representatives provided answers wherever possible. A lot of notes were taken since there were a lot of very technical questions. The one who could probably had been able to answer them all, Anton Kril aka The KrilSwitch, was excused from the Ask Me Anything session after offering a Magento 2 workshop that day.

Enjoying a community evening

Like Sherrie had predicted, the hours after the closing ceremony would not be used for sightseeing but instead would let us see the interior of another bar, but only after we had gained a new member in our crowd. His name is Mathieu and it was all a big misunderstanding but apparently he enjoyed our company and talks about Magento that he had never heard of before. By the way thank you to whoever recommended the place Trezo. The food was delicious.

So, what was it like at #mm17pl?

I enjoyed Meet Magento Poland very much. Every little detail was well-organised and with Monday’s sunshine the time we spent outside was delightful. During the whole event, I saw people observing the Pac-Man Rule and only few people that seemed lost. While I was far from beating the records for meeting new people, I took up the chance to catch up with many and made some new connections.
Thank you Kuba and Marta for inviting me and kudos to the whole team for organising this awesome event!

Sonja Riesterer

Sonja Riesterer is the Marketing Manager at integer_net. She especially enjoys organising events. As a Magento Certified Solution Specialist and Magento Master 2017 she also offers Magento admin trainings.

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