AFROTECH Conference ’22 marked the return of the first entirely in-person gathering since the onset of the pandemic, and Austin, TX, has never been the same.
With powerful conference sessions, impactful speakers, and top-tier social vibes, over 25,000 people tapped into the nation’s best tech conference. Fast forward to Nov. 1-5, 2023, and it all goes down again, but bigger and better!
Registration is currently open, and there is an option for every interested person. Although the investment is worth the value of the experience, there is no doubt that the price commitment can be a barrier for some. This is why we created a template that helps interested attendees approach their companies about conference sponsorship.
Each proposed sponsorship will get approved by crossing all fingers and sending up prayers and good thoughts. And if that is you, your attendance needs to align with company goals and expected outcomes.
Assistant Vice President of Moody’s Investors Service, Christopher Williams attended last year’s conference as a sponsored attendee and has plans to bring a group of colleagues to this year’s convening. 2022 was his first AFROTECH experience, but the impression it left was long-lasting.
“So let me start by saying that to go to AFROTECH, first time in Austin, Texas, by the way, and just seeing this large gathering of black professionals in the tech space in different sectors, different angles at different levels, that was amazing because then it just opened the network to see how many people that look like me are either already in the field, trying to get into the field, or thriving in the field,” Williams said.
However, Williams’ attendance was more than recognizing the power of representation. AFROTECH expanded his network, and he found core intersections for his work.
“I enhanced my network tenfold, which is good from a personal standpoint, but I also came back with a greater understanding of how to drive product ownership and project management initiatives with tech teams,” Williams explained. “We understand the credit side, the finance side. They understand the building of the infrastructure of the software. I didn’t fully have a good idea of how tech folks communicated. And AFROTECH had some great sessions that helped me better understand that side of product ownership and project management, and how you can work most efficiently with the tech developers.”
Growing your squad and developing a community is one of the major takeaways of attending AFROTECH, but stories like Williams’ appeal most to organizations and their leaders. And as he prepares to work to bring others to the conference, this is the type of experience he expects them to have — one that is mutually beneficial.
When both parties benefit, it shows mutual alignment between the employee and the organization. For Black employees, there are professional development opportunities, and companies benefit from that when the employee implements those learnings into their work streams.
“When a company invests or sponsors a black employee, black talent, high-performing black talent to go to this conference, that’s a commitment and an investment in that growth,” Williams stated. “And you’re looking to see the person continue to enhance their skills and grow and ultimately return what they’ve learned back to the company. That’s how you see the ROI (return on investment).”
ROI is essential to companies because while employee investment is crucial to retention, the organization wants to know the quantitative and qualitative data supporting that investment. How do sessions align with ongoing projects? How many people did you interact with that increased your company’s brand recognition? Are there future opportunities to plug, in addition to sponsored attendance?
Knowing the answers to questions and decision-making points such as these can increase the likelihood of future sponsorship, showing how employee attendance is a business priority.
“Some conversations should be had prior, so there are expectations on both sides, right?,” Williams said. “That way, management has an idea of what the employee will be learning and gaining while there, and the employee is also aware of what their homework is to come back with. Management is looking to see if you can take the specific things you learned and apply them to something you’re working on.”
AFROTECH Conference is less than 60 days away, and the clock is ticking on registration and logistics planning. While the event is drawing close, there is still time to get your employer to cover the costs of attendance.