Six industry movers and shakers tell us what they’re looking forward to at Xerocon

Going to Xerocon? It’s the major annual event for the cloud accounting industry’s biggest player, so it’s likely that plenty of your LinkedIn connections will be there. To help you get the best out of your visit, we asked six industry veterans to tell us what they’ll be doing, who they’ll seeing and how they make the most of their time at Xerocon.

Paul Meissner, Cloud Accountant, Founder of 5Ways Group and Freedom Accounting System

“I’ve been to nine Xerocons, and they always announce something big. It’s important to know Xero’s priorities for the future and the keynotes let me hear it from the top. I will spend most of my time around the exhibitor area. No other event gives me access to all the add-on providers in one place. I like to cut straight to brass tacks with exhibitors and ask them: “What problem do you solve?” Getting a little bit of information from all exhibitors leaves me time to go back later to the ones I’m interested in. I suggest new visitors come armed with a need (better payments, gateways or reporting, for example) and look for products and seminars that meet that need. Because there are so many exhibitors, it’s easy to be overwhelmed, so just get to as many as you can.

“Networking is a huge part of Xerocon, but it’s not about getting clients. I like to meet industry connections that I usually only communicate with via social media—nothing beats that face-to-face contact. Everyone is willing to meet, and as a solo entrepreneur I don’t have partners to bounce off. So, I’ll be asking my contemporaries what their favourite tools and products are, to see if there’s anything I should be using for my practice and clients. I would encourage anyone who wants to meet a big industry influencer to be bold and come and say hello—people are very friendly and open.”

Paul is participating in a panel session on Day Two: The Power of Small and Agile Firms at 12:20pm.

Carolyn Stebbing, Director of digital marketing and creative agency, Little Village Creative

“This is my third Xerocon. I was lucky enough to wing my way in as a speaker in 2015. We (Little Village Creative) have a few clients actively involved in Xerocon this year, so it'll be a busy two days on the ground for me. I'll spend most of my time checking in with clients, running social media, briefing writers to draft quick-turnaround content and generally making sure things are happening as they should be on the marketing front.

“During the rare moments of downtime, I'm looking forward to catching up with industry connections and meeting new people. I'd like to catch Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan's talk on amplifying your influence and developing commercial clarity around your competitive advantage. And I'll most definitely be at the block party for a Melbourne-style Xerocon send-off. My biggest tips for Xercon newbies are to drink buckets of water (it’s so easy to forget) and leave the high heels at home.”

Sholto Macpherson, Editor and Publisher of DigitalFirst.com

“I’ve been to six Xerocons and I have three main reasons for attending. Firstly, I enjoy the community. Because this is the group of the most tech savvy accountants in Australia, everyone is enthusiastic about exploring new ideas. Secondly, I love that Xero shares its roadmap and constantly pushes the definition of what cloud accounting software can do. So I am looking forward to hearing its new announcements. It’s great to hear their fresh ideas about what is possible, and I appreciate their transparency. And thirdly, as a journalist, I look forward to interviewing industry leaders.

“It’s easy to be overwhelmed by Xerocon, so I suggest new attendees prepare three top priorities for their business or clients and concentrate on those. Take time after the event to digest everything you’ve learned and make plans, because without action the inspiring ideas will soon be forgotten.”

Tim Dowling is a Client Director at Business Continuum

“This is my eighth Xerocon. I am looking forward to seeing what Xero is planning around AI, machine learning, and what they’re doing with big data servers. I always get plenty of value out of the product sessions. I plan to check out the new products on the market and spend time networking. It’s incredibly valuable to hear from people on the ground using the products.

“I encourage new visitors not to be afraid to chat—everyone at the stands will love to connect and industry leaders are welcome to being approached. Make sure to explore on behalf of your clients—what problems are they facing that can be solved? And bring a big bag for all the free stuff—enjoy the many giveaways like chargers, beach balls, balloons, frisbees. If it can get a logo printed on it, you can find it at Xerocon.”

Andrew Van De Beek, Founder and Director of accounting practice Illumin8

“I was so inspired by my first Xerocon. I learned plenty of technical skills, and I also I felt energised to grow my practice and better service my clients. Now, attending my fourth Xerocon, I still get the same combination of technical learning and creative inspiration. I like to check in with other accountants to see how they are doing, what makes them tick and how they solve problems they’re currently facing. I want to help those starting out in the industry too, so I’m attending the Uni Day to help students better understand branding and marketing. I encourage anyone with questions to come and see me.”

Illumin8 is the winner of Xero's Victorian Partner of the Year award. Andrew is hoping to take home the gong for AU Accounting Partner of the Year, to be announced at Xerocon on Day Two.

Troy Townley is a partner in HTA Advisory, an accounting and small business advisory practice based in Melbourne

“I always like to see the roadmap of Xero and where its ecosystem is going. It’s great to see the add on partners and other businesses—sharing and collaborating on ideas is what Xerocon is all about. This will be my sixth Xerocon and nearly every year I have found one or two products that I rollout to my business and to our clients. I’ll be on the lookout for anything that solves problems that we see in client businesses and makes us more efficient and saves us time. In particular, I am looking forward to seeing Anna Curzon’s keynote and Rachael Powell’s presentation on building positive workplaces.

“I recommend first time visitors make time to see as many vendors and sponsors as they can. It’s a huge ecosystem and there is so many different products. You can never learn them all but Xerocon gives you a great introduction. Have an open mind about the change that is coming to the industry—don’t dismiss products without giving them due consideration.”


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