A New Take on Microsoft Convergence

by Casey Savell, Program Manager

I recently embarked on my first trip with STS to a tier one conference. Microsoft Convergence in Atlanta, GA was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I spent the week shadowing Senior Program Manager, Julia, and Oren, a program manager from our Seattle office. I also spent a great deal of time learning from Becky and Jonathan, our travel staff who work as route supervisors.

I immediately knew that this was way bigger than the other programs I have worked with STS – we had to have security passes to get into the World Congress Center!

Shortly after arriving we had training for local staff working the conference as hotel ambassadors. I was amazed by the number of people who have been working for STS for many years. The energy in the room matched the excitement of a camp reunion. I was hugged by complete strangers just because I was wearing a red STS shirt.

My mind barely comprehended how much time and effort was spent getting all the details of the week into a working spreadsheet. It was impressive to look at the vehicle allocation and see how many buses we would check in and manage that week.

The first morning we checked in buses before the sun was up. Once again, I encountered a group of people who were excited and eager to work with STS. The bus drivers and STS program managers and staff members knew each other by name.

I cannot remember how many drivers asked, “Where is Al? I haven’t seen him.” Our most interesting man in transportation was in Las Vegas working a program for ACE. He was missed!

I spent a lot of time chatting with drivers, which is a pretty common occurrence in the industry, but I also had the opportunity to spend time with the owner of one of the bus companies STS hired. I will never forget my time with Mr. Jimmy Cantrell of Daniel’s Charters.

I learned that Mr. Cantrell was once the owner of dump trucks and a construction business, and during that time he provided service for a contractor who wasn’t able to pay him. He finally accepted payment in the form of an old bus. He remodeled that bus and took his family on a vacation out west. The vacation consisted of driving from Georgia to California and back with no itinerary. Everyone who heard wanted to take a trip out west on the bus. Mr. Cantrell saw a need so he purchased a new bus and then more buses. He used his middle name, Daniel, for his new business, because he didn’t want it confused with his previous construction business.

Senior Program Manager Julia Friesen, Mr. Cantrell and Program Manager Casey Savell.

Senior Program Manager Julia Friesen, Mr. Cantrell and Program Manager Casey Savell.

It was obvious that Mr. Cantrell loves owning buses, loves seeing them in action, and loves seeing his client satisfied. His desire to serve others reminded me of the Servant Leadership management philosophy used by STS. That is probably why his company is such a great partner.

It was thrilling to observe how to effectively execute transportation for a conference of more than 10,000+ people. I knew I would learn about the nuts and bolts of managing a program of that magnitude while I was in Atlanta, but I was surprised to learn how important strong relationships are to the success of a program.