Last week I attended my first OTN Tour as a speaker. We travelled to Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Every evening we changed the country and in the morning we started with a new conference. And again in the evening (when other attendees started to eat and drink J) we took a taxi to the airport and flew to another country. The speakers were selected by the user groups involved. My speaker colleagues were: Jonathan Lewis, Debra Lilley, Simon Haslam and Joze Senegacnik. My special skill on this trip was Swedish. I was quite surprised I still knew how to speak it:)

On Sunday we flew to Stockholm, Sweden. Jonathan was kind enough to wait for me at the airport and we took a taxi to a beautiful Japanese SPA where the conference was held the next day. The other speakers arrived a bit later. I made a reservation for dinner while waiting. Unfortunately the hotel was quite full and I got the reservation at 9pm (and we were starving!). To make the time fly faster Debra and I took a fish treatment (the fish ate our feet), that was funnyJ Finally it was dinner time. Everybody in the restaurant was wearing a kimono (the same kind of kimono) and it actually felt very nice: no need to worry what to wear… Sushi was excellent but I think we all agreed the main course was not the best one. The reason could also have been that we were already quite tired. The next morning we started with a breakfast and then to the conference, some of us (Debra, Simon and I) wearing our kimonos. I am very happy with my sessions. I presented about database security to a very good audience. Somebody from the audience tweeted that it was the topic of the day! And personally I was very happy to see an old colleague of mine (Ove) in the audience and it was so nice to hear he is doing very well in Sweden (he moved there 14 years ago). After the sessions it was time to take a taxi to the airport and fly to Oslo, Norway. I think it was a long 24h since Simon asked me at the airport: “Heli, do you come here, Copenhagen, very often?”. I think this question summarizes very well how we all felt during the week: confused…

My hotel room in Sweden:


We arrived to our hotel in Oslo about 9 pm and the OUGN board was waiting for us and offered us a lovely dinner. After the dinner we were all ready to bed (ok after some work, because even we are traveling and speaking we still need to take care of our day to day work and also polish the slides for the next day). Next morning it was breakfast again and to the conference. I think Norway had the biggest audience of all. I had my security session for a full room (the biggest room they had!) and a keynote about agile database design (also for a full room). The audience was excellent, I had so much fun. After my sessions somebody from the audience came and gave me a chocolate as a present. That was such a nice gesture! Norwegians are amazing! After my keynote I ran to the taxi (all other speakers were waiting for me) and the other attendees stayed for food and beer…

Here is a view from my hotel room in Norway:


And a picture from my presentation about database security about 5-10 minutes before we started. This is about half of the room.


About 9 pm again we arrived to our hotel in Copenhagen. It was a really nice small hotel. The board of DOUG was waiting for us and we were served a surprise menu which was excellent. I tried not to eat too much main course because I heard we will have chocolate cake for desert but the huge desert plate was still too much for me… The next morning we had a breakfast and then took a taxi to the local Oracle office where the conference was held. My both sessions were well attended (database security and agile database design) and the database design was so popular some people had to bring their own chairs… and I had my second chocolate from the audience… Thank you! What was special in Denmark was that my dear friend Mogens Norgaard (I owe him a lot! I would not be the CEO for Miracle Finland without him) invited us for a quick dinner before we flew to Finland. We had a delicious meal in his friend Ali’s restaurant and then took a taxi to the airport.

This is how Denmark looks like from my hotel window:


We arrived to Helsinki, Finland about 11 pm. My hubby came to pick me up at the airport (home!) and the rest of the gang walked to their hotel at the airport. The next morning we met at the venue which was a nice small building by the water. The temperature outside was minus something Celsius but inside it was warm and nice.


Even the phones were cold and dressed for the Winter…


I was super-brave (maybe because it is my home user group or maybe because we were all getting very tired) and gave both my sessions about Data Modeler just presenting demos (LIVE! demos). I think it worked very well. I had one or two slides and thanks to Simon I have one photo of me presenting…


After the conference we had a lovely dinner and then I was totally ready to bed.

I think the tour was excellent. All the organization was very good and travelling with other speakers was really nice. This tour made me very happy. People still valuate the database design. And I want to thank Ms Hanni Makkonen from Oracle Finland to make me speak about other topics but just database design. My security session was very well taken and I enjoyed it very much. In four words: I love my job.

I also want to thank the Oracle ACE Program: Vikki, Jennifer and Roland for making this possible. Thank you! The user groups for organizing the tour (Orcan, OUGN, DOUG and OUGF) and my fellow speakers (Debra, Jonathan, Simon and Joze) for making the tour an amazing experience. I had a great time! And I feel very privileged to call these amazing speakers my friends!

On Friday morning I was back at the office again. Not a bad place to be either…