Customer POV: Why I Keep Coming Back to Workday Rising

Craig Barattin, vice president of finance and controller at Healthfirst, shares what first drew him to Workday Rising, why he and his team keep returning, and what first-timers should know to make the most of their experience.

Over the years, customers often tell us Workday Rising provides them with valuable learning and networking opportunities that benefit their organizations and help them make the most of our technologies. But don’t take our word for it: Hear from a repeat attendee.

Craig Barattin is vice president of finance and controller at Healthfirst, New York’s largest not-for-profit health insurer and a three-time veteran of our premier annual conference. Barattin is excited about attending Workday Rising once again, which takes place September 26-29 this year in San Francisco.

We recently spoke with Barattin about his past Workday Rising experiences, how he and his team benefit from attending, and what advice he’d give a first-timer.

Workday Rising attendees strike a pose in 2022.

Tips for First-Time Attendees

Because of the sheer size of the event, it can seem daunting to navigate—we’re expecting more than 15,000 Workday customers, partners, experts, and vendors to join us in San Francisco. Barattin offered a few pointers for attendees, whether it’s your first time or you’re joining us once again.

  • Have a strategy. Barattin said to think about how many sessions you’d like to attend and which ones you’ll get the most out of. Are you a hands-on learner or a more strategic thinker? Are you interested in how Workday core products work together or a specific solution? There will be more than 400 sessions designed for a wide variety of interests, roles, and learning styles. “Some team members have significantly opted for hands-on sessions because having access to experts in a small setting is very beneficial,” he said. “For myself, I’ve tried to focus on the sessions that I think are more strategic in nature. It’s been a big, big positive.”

  • Create a plan. Looking to attend with some of your colleagues? With so many learning opportunities to choose from, Workday Rising offers enough to keep you all busy. Whether you go alone or with a group, Barattin said it’s helpful to browse the event catalog to determine the best use of everyone’s time.

  • Build your community. Networking at the event will help you learn from other organizations’ journeys, share ideas and approaches, and consider questions together on how to make the most of Workday products. Barattin said his team continues to gain from the insights and experiences of others at each new Workday Rising. 

  • Explore the possibilities. Given the wealth of opportunities to connect, learn, and grow at Workday Rising, it seems reasonable to load up on as many activities as possible. But it also pays to be open to less structured moments, too. “Leave yourself a little free time here and there to explore things like ‘Ask an Expert’ or get coffee with a Workday rep,” Barattin said. “Opportunities like that can be fruitful for somebody who’s coming to Workday Rising for the first time.”

  • Share the lessons. It helps to share the insights learned at Workday Rising, Barattin said. “We always do a debrief when we come back with our team members who didn’t go, to help them understand some of the things we learned.”

“I’m looking forward to learning more about what the role and impact AI and ML will have in Workday’s product roadmaps.”

Craig Barattin Vice President of Finance and Controller Healthfirst

Every Workday Rising Is Different

Barattin said Healthfirst sent a group of employees to Workday Rising soon after going live with Workday.

“As a new customer, we wanted to experience all the customers coming together in one place and be able to listen to Workday and what they had to say about the future of the platform, program, and forthcoming features,” Barattin said. “One of the reasons we decided to go with Workday was because we believed in the relationship and connection they made with customers, so this was for us a way to see that front and center. It provided a good forum for us to communicate, network, learn, and share ideas and concepts.” That included, he said, understanding others’ digital transformation journeys in order to know how his company might better manage its post go-live environment. 

But a few years later, the organization’s needs have changed. “We’ve shifted over the last few years to being that customer providing information to the newer customer,” Barattin said. “The lifecycle is evolving: We’re further down the path now, so we’re trying to help others who were in our shoes and at the same time continue to leverage the longer-term customers from their experience and knowledge and figure out how that can benefit us.”

Stepping up to deliver presentations at past Workday Risings has also helped make new connections, Barattin said. “From listening to our presentations and having some subsequent conversations afterward, then following up on that over time, there are multiple avenues we’ve been able to use to make and grow those connections.”

A Forward-Looking Perspective

A highlight of Workday Rising is sharing new technology innovations we’ve created for our community and our product roadmap. 

Barattin said, “We continue to learn things, making sure that: One, we have the capabilities available to us and are leveraging them to the best of our ability; and two, we gain an understanding of what Workday is working on. That helps us to plan better for the future and understand what kind of additional functionality is going to be coming that could be beneficial for us,” adding that his team is better able to evaluate what work might need to be done ahead of implementation.

Given all the recent attention on the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), Barattin said it’s a focus for this year. “I’m definitely looking forward to learning more about what the role and impact AI and ML will have in Workday’s product roadmaps,” he said.

Workday employees welcome attendees to Workday Rising in 2022.

Take the Leap

Lastly, Barattin said organizations might want to consider attendance at Workday Rising as an investment in their future success with Workday.

“If you’re on the fence, irrespective of where you are in the life cycle of a Workday client, you should give strong consideration to at least having one representative come to the conference from your company because there’s a tremendous amount of value in being present there, being part of the sessions, being part of the events that take place, and really networking with both the customers and Workday associates.” 

Barattin said he’s excited to attend once again. “We’ve made a lot of connections, and people have already begun reaching out to me for coffee or to meet up during a break,” he said. “It’s good to make those connections—and it’s very beneficial from my perspective.” 

Learn more about Workday Rising, September 26-29, 2023, in San Francisco.

More Reading