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Jayesh Bapu Ahire
Jayesh Bapu Ahire

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A year of Public Speaking!

As an introvert, public interaction has been nothing but a nightmare for me! This changed a bit in the second year of my engineering course when I got a chance to speak at several international conferences about my research work. At the beginning of 2019, a major goal for me was to speak at as many conferences, technical events, and meetups as possible and help people build communities across India and different parts of the world.

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I am really glad that on this day (31st December) I have achieved most of what I aimed to do and 2019 was really an amazing year in this regard! I delivered talks at around 43 events in total including 23 major conferences and technical events around the globe.

Irrespective of how successful I was at engaging the audience, every event that I attended was a learning experience in itself. For the sake of brevity, I will not be sharing all my experiences here. If you do want to see all I did from Lightning talks to workshops, you can find the list here.

January was mostly a month of meetups. I spoke at several events organized by Pune Developers Community focussing mainly on AI and hyperledger. Since I was in a learning phase, meetups proved to be a great medium for working upon my oratory skills and content that would later be delivered at major conferences. For anyone who is on the lookout to improve their public speaking skills, meetups by various communities in your city are your best bet. Once you've gained enough confidence, you can try some big events and conferences in your domain. Do as many dry-runs of your talk as possible and have someone review your content to ensure you are confident and fluent on D-Day.

In February, I conducted Machine Learning study jam for students in the city to share my knowledge about machine learning. With hands-on workshops, I was able to clearly demonstrate how cloud computing could simplify managing machine learning workflows. A big shout-out to my college festivals organizing team on account of whom I was invited to be a speaker at the inaugural event. The second half of February was spent in Beijing where I visited Tsinghua University and interacted with students from their AI lab regarding research projects in this domain. Also, attending insightful sessions by Dr. Neil J. Gunther and Dr. Sriram Srinivasan at DSConf were really helpful for my research.

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It was Meetup season all the way in March, as well and I delivered a talk on Elastic App Search this month. There were many technical queries for this session since this was basically an oversimplification of functionality and it is a managed service. Since I was unable to answer all the questions posed by the audience, I resolved to delve more into the technical aspects in future sessions

April was another awesome month. I attended Google Cloud Next '19 in San Francisco and learned about so many new things Google cloud is coming up with! Later that month, I organized Cloud Next extended in Pune and Nashik and also delivered a talk on the latest happening in Google Cloud Ecosystem.

In May, I attended Microsoft Build and Google I/O in US. It was a great experience and it gave me an opportunity with many new people (Some of them are best friends now). I also attended AWS Summit in Mumbai wherein a new community journey started for me. Thanks to Rashmi and Jeevan, I became an organizer of AWS UG Pune. This was the exam month as well so I also dealt with exams this month.

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In June, I started my AI/ML Internship at Icertis and now I was working on weekdays at office and working at night on my own projects and conducting meetups in weekends. Next 3 months were very strenuous to juggle between job and communities. This month I learnt so many new lessons about time management and I was living alone this month so I got enough time to figure out what I want from life. I delivered a talk on my takeaways from Google I/O at Google I/O Extended in Pune. This month we hosted Sandeep Gupta from TensorFlow and I had a really good time discussing communities and research I am working on with him. I also conducted Staff Training Program for AI/ML for one of the universities in India and I got to learn a lot about the situation of faculty in India. I also mentored teams at Facebook's her-tech hackathon for women. This was the month I started AWS UG Pune with a first meetup!

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In July, I worked on some research papers and projects and also was working with my mentor at an internship. Thanks to Aravind, I attended Fifth Elephant where I learnt about the latest happenings in AI world. I became part of AWS Community Day Bangalore and witnessed the power of community. This month I also became part of Twilio Champions programs and got an Invite for twilio champions summit and twilio signal conference.

In August, I mostly worked on my research project as I had a presentation in September and I delivered talks at several meetups.

1st september was the day when I started my 100 days streak. I went to Switzerland to deliver a talk about my research work. Then I came back to Pune conducted a spot instances meetup and same night took a flight to coimbatore. I delivered a talk at DevFest Coimbatore and visited several places around the city and met many community people around coimbatore, Then, I went to Bangalore and attended meetup with awsugblr and thanks to Rashmi, also attended cypher day 1. Then I delivered a talk at DevFest colombia in same week. Next weekend, I delivered a talk at DevFest Bangalore.

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All my DevFest talks were around Demystifying Machine Learning with Google Cloud and Demystifying Google AI platform. People really appreciated my talks and received really good feedback from teams.

As I was talking to more diverse communities, I learnt that I need to slow down my talking pace and I have to reduce the content for small talk. This was the first time I delivered same talk thrice in a month but each time I tried to polish it according to feedback. I tried to focus on solving doubts of people outside the hall and people appreciated that. I ended September with a talk on Machine Learning with AWS at AWS Community Day Mumbai!

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October started with a Kubernetes study Jam for Students in Pune and Tensorflow Road Show in Bangalore, which went awesome! This month I delivered a talk on sagemaker at AWS Community Day in the beautiful city of Kochi in god's own country! This month I delivered my first DevOps Day Talk in taipei on Demystifing AIOps. This was my first ever talk in chinese. I travelled to Beijing to visit Tsinghua university again. Thanks to Linux Foundation, I got sponsored to attend Open Source Summit in France in october. I got selected as a codelab mentor and my talk on Demystifying Tensorflow 2.0 got accepted at DevFest London!

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November started with Web Summit which was a really great experience. I also attended engage in London this month. I delivered BOF at Rootconf Hyderabad which got really nice feedback from audience. This was followed by many meetups in cities I visited this month. I travelled to re:invent and got sick in a day which really ruined the whole re:invent experience but I got composer and deepracer which I will be demo at re:invent recap next year (I still love doing this next year jokes).

December was a month I spent in finishing some of my projects (and submitting talks for 2020!). I spent a week reading the books I wanted to read from past few months and visited some educational institutes re-innovating ways of delivering education and incorporating technical skills in students (Will write a blog about it some other day!). I gave myself and my family a very well deserved vacation which gave me time to think about the things that I want to make space for in my life. I realized how grateful I am for everything that I've had the opportunity to do in 2019 and it's all thanks to everyone who helped me in this journey!

Final Thoughts,

2019 was a great year for me and I got an opportunity to deliver 43+ talks at conferences, technical events, meetups and visit many cities around the world for the same, published 13 research papers, 1 book, became an organizer of 9 communities in India focused on various technologies. I thank all the sponsors, Organizers and companies who willingly paid for my travels and accommodation.

I am really grateful to everyone who helped me along this journey from being an Introvert to Ambivert.

I have done this stepping outside my comfort zone which was sitting at home and reading books and working on something I love. I went outside and showed my work to everyone this year and I liked the way people appreciated it. Fun Fact: People still don't believe I just turned 21 in october.

Although this all looks great and happening it comes with some extras:

  • Excessive travel without any breaks. This isn't easy. I will never recommend that.

  • Health problems - I have a really good immunity and I often don't face major health issues though this travel takes a toll on your health and it happened to me in Vegas.

  • Personal life - 100 days in suitcase was damn tiring and I was not able to talk to my friends and family during that period.

  • I often feel that I am not giving enough time to my personal projects and stuff I like to work on which actually is a material for this talks. I had to spend some extra hours from my sleeping time to work on my personal projects.

What about 2020?

I love public speaking and I will be continuing this! (I already got accepted at Redis Day, AAAI 2020, AWS Community Day Pune and Namma Cloud Conference! And already presenting at 3 meetups and this all is in first 2 months only!)

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However, taking health and my personal growth into consideration, I've decided a few things for the next year:

  1. I will be limiting this to at max 2 conferences and not more than one city a month.

  2. I will be limiting my presence at local meetups and trying to promote volunteers to take over. If you want to be part of the organizing team of any of the meetup group I am running please dm me on twitter!)

  3. I will be focusing on my personal growth, health and reading.

If you want to talk about communities, discuss about public speaking or if you're interested in discussing about AI Research related stuff, reach out to me via twitter @Jayesh_Ahire1 ! (Note: I will add some more photos in next year as my phone gallery is just a mess this days!

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