How to Engage: Fostering the Acquia Community in Asia Pacific

Two years ago, I moved from Boston to Australia to lead Acquia’s marketing and business development in the Asia-Pacific/Japan region. It’s been quite the ride and a wonderful experience to be part of a fast-growing company in a new and high-growth market.


Two years ago, I moved from Boston to Australia to lead Acquia’s marketing and business development in the Asia-Pacific/Japan region. It’s been quite the ride and a wonderful experience to be part of a fast-growing company in a new and high-growth market.

We’ve expanded the APJ team, gained lots of new customers and partners in new countries across the region, and most recently, we invited customers and partners to join us at our first Engage customer and partner conference in Sydney - check out our post-event video here:

When I left Boston, we had just finished our second global Engage conference at the InterContinental Hotel overlooking the site of the historic Boston Tea Party on Fort Point Channel. There, I had managed the keynote speakers and main stage panels, and experienced firsthand the passion and insights Acquia’s customer and partners were willing to share about the challenges and potential of digital experience delivery.

A few days after closing that conference, I boarded a flight for Sydney, convinced that as a marketer I should do my best to build a community in the APJ region to foster collaboration, sharing and insights beyond what a marketing department typically does in building a brand and supporting sales.

For two years I worked with our global CMO and our General Manager Graham Sowden to organize an Engage conference for Asia Pacific. On Aug. 22, it finally happened, and the feedback we received from those who attended from the Acquia and Drupal community confirmed that community and collaboration, and the opportunity to come together face to face is one of the most powerful benefits of such an event.

Attendees from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and other countries came together at the InterContinental Sydney for two days to share their insights into the art of building and delivering amazing digital experiences.

The attendees came from nonprofits, the public sector, household brands, large enterprise organisations, large and small digital agencies, tech consultancies, and more. Every attendee brought their own perspective to share and the result was, for me, magic.

Turning something from an idea to reality was arguably the underlying theme of the conference; beginning when Dries Buytaert, founder and CTO of Acquia, shared his story about building a simple website with messaging functionality to facilitate organising social events for his university friends that evolved into Drupal, a content management framework powering some of the world’s most important organizations, an open source project and community with over one million contributors.

Sharyn Clarkson, assistant secretary of the online services branch of the Australian Department of Finance, shared the story of the federal government’s journey with Drupal and Acquia -- beginning with the mandate to “start small and work out if their idea was viable.” The first thing they did was foster an agile culture, one which built great impact from some seed funding for what has become to be known as the govCMS project.

The Department of Finance, at the time, was looking after seven government-wide IT products, and Clarkson's team was allocated “a little pot of money,” which was only enough to bring one of these products up to date every year “using waterfall methods and a lot of red tape.”

Today -- three years later -- there are 155 sites on govCMS and 21 in active development, across 57 separate agencies and seven jurisdictions with more forthcoming - all from a marketing budget of zero.


Our first Engage Asia Pacific event also featured one of our longtime international customers, Mark Kramer, vice president of digital and engineering technology at Pac12 Networks. Pac-12 Networks is a 24/7 media company that consists of one national and six regional television networks with digital properties designed to connect fans with their favorite Pac-12 teams and universities.

Kramer took the conference attendees through Pac-12’s digital transformation journey during the past five years, in which they re-imagined fan engagement through cloud, Drupal and and open-API strategies.

These were just two of more than 14 presentations - you can see them here.

Engage is about customers, but also the agencies and partners who advise and assist them in their journey to master digital. While it’s been a relatively short time since we’ve started to build a network of partners in the region, we’re incredibly proud to now include renowned creative, digital and technical partners, such as Ogilvy AustraliaPublicis GroupeDeloitte DigitalCI&TDoghouse MediaIEVMLMorphtTechnocratNew RelicPixel OnionSalsa DigitalAdelphi DigitalLoud & ClearDigital Garden, and XEquals. We thank them for their continued support of our business, and for their sponsorship of the Acquia Engage Asia Pacific conference.

Looking around the room at our glamorous launch party overlooking Sydney Harbour at Quay; dropping in on the customer and partner advisory sessions; socializing during the breaks and in the partner pavilion between the speaker sessions at the InterContinental, or at the closing party - it really hit home for me that we are in the business of starting connections for, and with our customers and partners.


Our first Engage Asia Pacific conference featured speakers from six countries, attracted nearly 300 attendees, industry experts, Acquians from the region and our Boston headquarters together with our valued partners and sponsors.

As a team, we are excited to see how you -- our community of customers and partners -- take the connections forged at the conference to deliver amazing digital experiences and contextual customer journeys over the next few years. It goes without saying we look forward to hearing about your success and we encourage you to share them with us at the next Engage Asia Pacific.

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