Lightning Interview #2: Ahmed Ali on Starting and Leading a Java User Group
Ahmed Ali leads the very active Egyptian Java User Group (EGJUG). EGJUG recently organized Java Developers Conference 2013, the largest Java conference in the Middle East. The conference was, once again, a huge success.
1. Why did you decide to start and co-lead the EGJUG?
Ahmed: I joined EGJUG because it is the only Java community in Egypt and one of the top active communities as well. I decided to lead the Egyptian JUG because I believe it is a very valuable community to the Egyptian Java developers. EGJUG has supported students and developers in learning Java programming and other technologies for years. I participated for a long time in managing the monthly meeting, and every time I organized a meeting I felt excited and became more enthusiastic about working with the JUG as volunteer. When the JUG founder (Ahmed Hashim) decided to quit, I realized I was one of the top contributors in the EGJUG's activities. I didn't hesitate a second to propose to take the leadership.
2. If someone wants to start a JUG, what obstacle that they might not think about in advance would you recommend that they prepare for?
Ahmed: Leading a JUG is not an easy job and there are many things to consider before you start.
- Will you be able to get a free venue to host your meetings?
- Do you have technical people available to speak in your meetings?
- Will you have all your meetings in one place, or do you have to cover a big geographical area?
- Who will support the JUG with books, promotional materials, and cover the monthly meeting cost?
3. Once a JUG has been started, it needs to acquire a core membership, and some corporate sponsorship is also quite beneficial. Do you have a few comments about sustaining and growing a JUG in relation to these areas?
Ahmed: Sustaining and growing the JUG doesn't require a lot of money or sponsorship. In EGJUG we host our event at Cairo University for free and we make it free to attend. Also our speakers are volunteers, which makes it very enjoyable, since everybody comes for one purpose: to help the community. It depends on your country, but in Egypt it is difficult to have membership fees; however, it might be accepted if you charged the attendees for a specific session.