My favorite event of the year is Autodesk University. This year is of particular significance to me because it is my first AU as an Autodesk employee—AND because this will be my tenth AU.
I have attended AU as a customer, a speaker, an entertainer, an Autodesk partner and this year, as an employee. I think that about covers the full spectrum.
What have I learned? AU provides the highest return on investment for your training dollars. Remember I ran a worldwide technical services company for six years. I charged $2000/day when I taught as an independent consultant. AU costs a fraction of that and includes a room and meals for four days! The instructors are the best available and you can select which classes you take and the events you attend.
The opportunity to network, a.k.a. schmooze, with 7000 of your peers for a few days, is absolutely priceless. Being in the company of users who are interested in the same things you are, who are faced with the same technical and cultural challenges, and who are hungry for the same information is difficult to quantify. However one conversation while at lunch, walking to class, or over a beer can result in learning something that can profoundly increase your productivity. This happens all the time at AU and, in the end, is what keeps drawing me back every year regardless of the business card I carry.