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Socrates France: the conference to be 😉

On October 4th, while thinking about how to make use of my Arolla’s training budget before the end of the year, I checked the news on Arolla’s yammer and I saw Houssam’s announcement about the remaining tickets to participate in Socrates France conference. I knew right away, I needed to give it a shot.  

It was such a rewarding experience that I’ve decided to write about it and provide inspiration to everyone interested in this kind of conferences.  

For those who don’t know what Socrates France conference is, it’s not the classic format of conference where speakers have to prepare their talks, presentations and potentially programs. It’s more of an open space gathering where people can freestyle the different activities with a minimum of preparing. If you’re more curious about the conference, you could have a look on its website or twitter account.

The conference took place in "Le Château de Massillan"  (Yes it’s a castle and it was so magical that I felt like a princess the whole time 👸 ) during 3 days starting from 9 am and finishing at 7pm. We were 2 princesses and 49 princes enjoying our temporary royalty privilege in that castle 🏰.

There was also a facilitator providing guidance and helping the group get things done. He was in charge of defining the best practices to follow when it comes to communication, interactions, participation and decision making.

Every participant had the option to suggest an idea for his/her session in the marketplace. Each idea was brought up for discussion, debate and experience sharing.

Every day, we started with a round table session led by our facilitator "Tobias Goeschel" and let me tell you, he’s such a charismatic, competent and humble man. He explained the general concept and shared with us the following agenda:

  • 10 am Sessions start
  • 11 am Coffee break
  • 11:30 am Continuing with the sessions
  • 12:30 pm Lunch break
  • 02:30 pm Continuing with the sessions
  • 03:30 pm Coffee break
  • 04 pm Continuing with the sessions
  • 06 pm Evening news and retrospective

I was determined to take advantage of the moment and learn from the other participants who shared many interesting topics and inspired me to share my own topics as well.

The overall experience was beyond expectation. It combines networking, learning, sharing knowledge, visiting amazing locations and enjoying good food (for all my foodies over there 😁).

Finally, let me share with you why you should attend Socrates France at least for once in your life:

  • Networking: Practicing kata and pair with people you’ve never met before
  • Knowledge sharing: Learning about software craftsmanship, programming languages and many other topics (even jokes!)
  • Experience sharing: Meeting people from different backgrounds and story sharing
  • Choice: Choosing to stay or leave based on how interesting the topics are to you
  • Public speaking: Facing your demons through public communication with amazing people
  • Food: I don’t even need to sell this one😁
  • Location: How often do you get to stay in a castle?
  • Have fun: Evening activities (playing Ukulele, knitting, picking locks...)

What should we improve in Socrates France?

  • Encouraging more women participation
  • Building an Effective Conference Marketing Strategy to get more attendees
  • Considering a nap session
  • Reducing prices regarding other European Socrates conferences.

I would like to thank Houssam Fakih and all the organizers of Socrates France conference.  I am indebted to "Tobias Goeschel" who has been amazingly patient and supportive all the participants during the conference.

I’m so grateful for all the participants: we discussed a lot and laughed a lot. You’re just amazing guys. See you next year 😘.

Millions of thanks go to Ferdaws Mabrouki (my sister) for the endless English corrections (thank you very much for reading this article), which taught me a lot and helped improve all my writings.

I want, also, to thank Geoffrey Dudragne and Laurent Yovanovitch for their careful review of my paper, for their comments, corrections and suggestions that ensued.

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