Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.
When I was twenty, the Forrest Gump was just entering the cinema screens. I’ve really enjoyed it, but I didn’t know that it become one of most important sentences of my life.
Everyone is the architect of his fate, isn’t it?
It turned out that unfortunately not. Not always, at least. My humble life went different than I planned earlier and now I can say that it’s fairly well for me.
Nowadays, I often meet PHP people who exactly know what they want to do, who plan their career in details. I envy and pity to them at the same time. Why? Because on the one hand they used to have precisely defined business, skill improvement and impressive knowledge. It transfers to abnormally high salaries and this is the reason to proud, obviously. But, on the other hand, I know how easy is to professional burnout in early years. Every precise plan of career can collapse like a house of cards, in a moment.
Be ready to be carried away by the wave of destiny!
When I graduated my university, I had completely no idea what to do with myself. It was a time of quite unstable economy in Poland. My graduate work was the IT system for trade, written in Clipper (who does remember it?), but I didn’t want to involve trade for a long time, so further development of my system was out of question. Finally I decided to take a full-time job as IT specialist in heavy industry. Time has shown, that it was not too cool idea: it coincided with ownership transformations due to change of state structure in Poland and first two my employers bankrupted quickly. Next I took a job in a bank. It looked like a dream job, really! Of course it still had no luck, because crawling Polish capitalism hunted me down again: bank has been taken over a bigger one and my branch was closed after circa three years, just when I planned to get married.
In effect, I found my next job in IT division of the Polish Customs Service after my wedding, to the delight of my wife. Do you think I have ever planned to be customs officer? No, absolutely not! But I politely dressed up a new uniform and became IT specialist in one of Polish railway border crossings.
It was a time when I interested Free Software and became Polish Linux Users Group member. Note that the Linux group, not PHP! There was no PHP UG’s in Poland at all, at the time – we still talk about early 2000’s.
From sysop to event manager
I got learn more and more about Free Software. Such knowledge was much appreciated by my manager and helped me at once to learn more on WAN administration, which was also very desirable knowledge in customs due to large dispersion of branches. However, having a soul of creator, I still dreamed about going back to coding, because I always treated developers as Creators, as top level of IT know-how.
It became true, when I created new registration system for attendee’s of the Linux Autumn – annual GNU/Linux conference for PLUG members and FLOSS enthusiasts. It was 2007. At that time I was a lead organiser of that conference and acted both as business and development, so I did regular “sprints” inside my head and code creation was definitely easier
The system proved useful next year, 2008, when my friend from PLUG fired up the first edition of the PyCon PL conference and asked me for customizing my system for his needs. Imagine my proud, when I replaced HTTP headers to feel attendees that they register using Python software.
The time has flowed and I still asked myself: how come there’s brilliant Python conference in Poland, but not PHP? It’s impossible, we must do similar event for PHP community! In fact, there’s the reason that the first PHPCon Poland conference started in the spring of 2010 in Holy Cross Mountain in the Central Poland.
Python is a kind of religion. PHP is for masses.
It’s true. Both PyConPL and PHPCon Poland grew up year by year, but PHPCon fairly faster, from 90 heads in 2010 to 957 in 2016 and even 1120 in 2017, after merging with PHP Brno Conference and creating php Central Europe Conference.
I must claim that organising conference for three hundred people is hard, but easier than doing the same for five or six hundreds. Going further, doing it for eleven hundred people is completely new challenge and it’s the opportunity to feel the real scale effect. You must be often prepared to serve solution for trivial problem, which rised up to strategical one in a moment. Everything is ok if you know what to do and you’re prepared for such amount of people. Sometimes, when the six-hundred-sixty-seventh attendee brings a new problem, you still must be gently and patient. It’s not easy, in fact.
I still work for customs! I don’t know how long time it’ll be, because my plans for events still evaluates.
My friend asked me years ago, if I plan to do conferences up to be retired. Then we laughed about it. Nowadays, I stopped laughing.
If you think I must be the PHP geek, as an organiser of such huge PHP event – the answer is: I’m definitely not. I’m going to specialise in the international event management, still beeing the IT engineer, as well.
If you want to support the PHP community in Central Europe, please google “phpCE” or “PHPCon Poland”, book a ticket and visit us. I’m looking forward to meet you in CE, in Poland, and maybe also somewhere else in Southern Europe in near future. But it is subject for another post, definitely