News

Rebuilding community connections: CENTR meets in person

2021-11-24 News

After almost 2 years of meeting online CENTR members met at the Annual CENTR Meeting in Brussels last week. Approximately half of the participants joined online, but it was almost as if they were in the room, as they were present on the screen in front, and participated actively during the meeting.

I became CENTR BoD chair at our last face-to-face meeting in February 2020 in my hometown of Ljubljana. Just a few days later Covid-19 hit the world and completely took over our lives. While I was very excited believing I would be spending even more time meeting our members in my new role, listening to them and exchanging ideas, it turns out I haven't met any at all. At best, all I’ve seen in the last 18 months are their faces on my computer screen, but I’ve also seen lots of black squares with just a name.

Despite this, during the pandemic, the CENTR community has proven how strong our connections are, and I couldn't be prouder. ccTLD registries adapted to this difficult situation immediately: online meetings ran smoothly from the first day, getting used to working from our homes was natural, and the numbers of meeting attendees went up. While life moved online, we became even more aware of our duty and responsibility in providing secure, stable and reliable DNS services. Being a part of the broad CENTR community with shared values, sharing information and experiences, and solving problems together has made us stronger and even more aware of the importance of our network and of CENTR itself.

CENTR's success during the pandemic is the result of the work of all of us in pre-pandemic life, where we established trust, strong connections and a sense of belonging to the community. After two years we're slowly running out of this fuel. We are noticing this at all levels: in working groups, where new members in particular are becoming more and more like observers rather than active participants, in some CENTR projects that are not progressing as planned and also in the lack of participation at CEO level in CENTR.

So with this red light on, this hybrid meeting was the opportunity for all of us to reinvigorate and reinforce CENTR, and to rebuild awareness of our common purpose. And while online meetings are running smoothly and we are making huge progress in different fields working together online, strong community bonds can only be knitted in person, by meeting people, talking, socialising, networking. And enjoying it.

During the Annual CENTR Meeting we discussed CENTR’s strategic goals for 2022, listened to registry updates and a European Commission update on recent developments. I'd like to thank all the members for the trust and anonymous support of the CENTR strategic plan and budget for 2022. We also welcomed CentralNic as an Associate Member.

The next day, the member CEOs and managers met at the Leaders' Day where the main topic was HR, but where data accuracy, DNS abuse and other hot topics were also discussed. We concluded our meeting with some proposals on how to improve collaboration in CENTR.

I strongly believe that involvement and cooperation between members is crucial at the moment when we're facing new regulatory requirements and initiatives that could potentially impact our industry. Working together, and sharing resources and knowledge is the of paramount importance.

I've missed face-to face meetings. Active participants, long lists of questions, heated discussions, lots of great ideas, suggestions, noisy coffee-breaks, where we all try to catch up with our colleagues. I haven't seen so many broad, genuine smiles for a long time.

We worked hard and enjoyed it immensely – if that is not a success, what is it?

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This article was written by Barbara Povše, the Chair of CENTR's Board of Directors.