Cross-posted from my blog
With each of these quarterly posts, I want to be able to report progress in the areas I'm responsible for. I'm pleased to share some key milestones from the past three months.
New Webinar Platform
Last year it became clear that we needed a more stable, scalable webinar platform for the Virtual Chapters and 24 Hours of PASS. Both the VCs and 24HOP continue to grow and attract larger audiences, and the technology we were using was not meeting our needs.
We discussed requirements with VC leaders and HQ staffers who work on 24HOP. We got proposals from seven or eight vendors and had live demonstrations from those that would meet our needs. In the end, we chose GoToWebinar from Citrix. Several VC leaders have been trained on the new platform, and a couple have started to use it. And we will be using GoToWebinar for the next 24HOP event.
Projects like these require organization and attention to detail. I want to recognize the work of HQ staffer Vicki Van Damme, who has been instrumental in getting us to the finish line.
Our first 24HOP of the year was held at the end of January. It was also our first Business Analytics Edition and featured a number of speakers who [also presented] at the PASS Business Analytics Conference. Focusing a 24HOP on business analytics reflects PASS's outreach to data professionals in this growing sector of our industry. Check out the session recordings to learn more about the work being done in this space.
Virtual events are a key part of PASS global growth. 24HOP Russian Edition was held in March. Thanks to the volunteers who worked hard to put on this event.
We launched two new VCs this quarter. The Business Analytics VC has already hosted four meetings and is playing an important part in PASS's growth into the BA world. The Book Readers VC is a virtual book club, where members get together online to discuss a book. They are starting with Itzik Ben-Gan's "T-SQL Fundamentals for SQL Server 2012." There is still time to read the first few chapters and join the discussion on April 17.
Virtual Chapters provide valuable technical training every month. Sign up for the VCs that interest you to get notified of upcoming events.
The Board met in January and discussed many items, including goals for the year, by-law changes, election process, and Summit. See the meeting minutes for details. In February, we adopted changes to the by-laws. And last week, I was in Chicago for a Board meeting and the BA Conference.
Budget planning is in full swing, and I've been working on the budgets for 24HOP and VCs.
In May, I'll be attending SQLBits, where I'm looking forward to meeting more members of the SQL community in the UK.
Planning for the next 24HOP will get underway soon, work on the budget will continue, and we'll finish rolling out the new webinar platform for the Virtual Chapters.
There is a lot changing in the data professional’s world these days. More data is being produced and stored. More enterprises are trying to use that data to improve their products and services and understand their customers better. More data platforms and tools seem to be crowding the market. For a traditional DBA, this can be a confusing and even unsettling time. It’s also a time that offers great opportunity for career growth. I speak from personal experience.
We sometimes talk about the “accidental DBA” – the person who finds herself suddenly responsible for managing the database because she has some other technical skills. Although it was not accidental, six months ago I was unexpectedly offered a chance to transition out of my DBA role and become a data analyst. I have since come to view this offer as a gift, though at the time I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.
Throughout my DBA career, I’ve received tremendous support from my PASS friends and colleagues, and they were the first ones I turned to for counsel about this new situation. Everyone was encouraging, and I received two pieces of valuable advice: First, leverage what I already know about data, and second, work to understand the business’ needs.
Harnessing the power of data to solve business problems is really the heart of the job. The challenge is figuring out how to do that. PASS had been the source of much of my technical training as a DBA, so I naturally started there to begin my business intelligence education. Once again, Virtual Chapter webinars, local chapter meetings, and SQLSaturdays have been invaluable.
I work in a large company where we are fortunate to have some very talented data scientists and analysts. These colleagues have been generous with their time and advice. I also took a statistics class through Coursera, where I got a refresher in statistics and an introduction to the R programming language.
And that’s not the end of the free resources available to someone wanting to acquire new skills. There are many knowledgeable business intelligence and analytics professionals who teach through their blogs. Every day, I can learn something new from one of these experts.
Sometimes we plan our next career move, and sometimes it just happens. Either way, a database professional who follows industry developments and acquires new skills will be better prepared when change comes. Take the opportunity to learn something about the changing data landscape by attending an upcoming Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, or Big Data Virtual Chapter meeting. And if you are moving into this new world of data, consider attending the PASS Business Analytics Conference in April where you can meet and learn from those who are already on that road.
It’s been said that “the only thing constant is change.” That’s never been truer for the data professional than it is today. But if you are someone who loves data and grasps its potential, you are in the right place at the right time.
In August the PASS Board of Directors approved an Anti-Harassment Policy
(AHP) for PASS Summit. After the policy was established a subcommittee continued work on guidelines for addressing alleged violations of the policy. The final version of the process was discussed at the September Board meeting and is now available here
Any alleged violations to the AHP can be reported to a member of the conference staff. Staff receiving such a report will contact the Duty Officer. The Duty Officer is a designated member of the staff who is reponsible for taking a full report. The Duty Officer will also notify the Anit-Harassment Review Committee (AHRC) that a complaint has been made.
The AHRC is the body authorized by the PASS Board of Directors to take action in response to a violation of the AHP. The process document
provides guidelines for how the AHRC will conduct its inquiries.
Publication of the AHP and an accompanying blog post
elicited some feedback from the community. Some expressed concerns about how the policy would be implemented and wondered if behaviors such as swearing could cause someone to be removed from the Summit.
We could never come up with an exhaustive list of everything that might result in someone being removed from the Summit. Both the behavior and the context in which it occurs would be important in making such a decision. But the AHP Process document provides some general examples of reasons why someone could be expelled from the conference. The emphasis is on the seriousness of the incident. Repeated harassing behavior could also result in expulsion.
The purpose of the Anti-Harassment Policy is to ensure the PASS Summit is safe and welcoming for all attendees. The AHP process guidelines support that goal.
The PASS Board of Directors recently approved adoption of an Anti-Harassment Policy for PASS Summit.
The policy states: "We are dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or any other protected classification." It outlines in general terms the type of behavior that is not acceptable and explains the steps that can be taken should someone engage in harassing behavior.
I had three reasons for drafting the policy and proposing its adoption:
- Other technical conferences have had incidents of harassment. Most of these did not have a policy in place prior to having a problem, though several conference organizers have since adopted anti-harassment policies or codes of conduct. I felt it would be in PASS's interest to establish a policy so we would be prepared should there be an incident.
- "This is Community" - Adopting a code of conduct would reinforce our community orientation and send a message about the positive character of PASS Summit.
- PASS is a leader among technical organizations for its promotion and support of women. Adopting a code of conduct would further demonstrate our leadership in this area.
PASS members pride themselves on being inclusive and ensuring that all attendees feel welcome at the Summit. From the many networking opportunities to the First Timers program to the #sqlpass conversations on Twitter, we encourage everyone to particpate fully in the conference. Having an anti-harassment policy is another way we ensure everyone feels welcome and safe at the Summit.
The Board had some thoughtful discussions as we worked through the details of the policy. I applaud the Board's willingness to take this step. I also want to thank PASS Governance Administrator Michelle Nalliah for all of her help in getting us through this process.
(Reposted from my blog; read the original post here.)
When I got elected to the PASS Board of Directors, I decided I would plan my goals for the job in 3-month intervals. I also plan on blogging about the experience of being on the Board at the end of each quarter, at least.
Prior to being elected, all of my time and energy was focused on the election process. Because the election ended so close to the start of the new Board term, there was not much time to transition from being a candidate to being a director. I set a rather modest goal for Q1: learn my new role. This really broke down into two major areas:
learning what it means to be a member of the body responsible for the overall running of PASS and learning about my portfolio of Virtual Chapters.
In January we had our first in-person board meeting after the election. We covered a lot of topics, from Summit floor plans to global growth strategies to the SQLRally selection process and much more. (See the meeting minutes for more detail.) I was struck by the thoughtfulness with which the entire body took up each question and discussion. I thought it was particularly productive for the first meeting of a board that had not worked together as a group before.
The challenge to being a director is that you need to transition from the more tactical, execution-focused role of a volunteer to a role that requires you to think about the longer term strategic goals of the organization. I knew this going in, but the board meeting helped me get a better understanding of what that shift looks like.
Each director is responsible for at least one portfolio; in my case, it's the Virtual Chapters (VCs.) I believe VCs provide a lot of value to our members as a source of both technical education and networking, and I'm excited about the possibilities for growing and expanding them. I think of myself as an enabler and evangelist for the VCs. The VC leaders and committees do a great job organizing speakers and events. I can help by removing obstacles, securing resources, and promoting the VCs and their work.
To that end, I've made some progress in the areas of marketing and finance. The PASS marketing team has some great ideas for ways to support the VCs. We've already seen a couple of articles in the Connector, and more are planned. We've clarified the process for getting and managing sponsorships and also discussed VCs' budget needs for the coming fiscal year. One of my goals is to communicate relevant information with the VC leaders in a timely way and to seek their input. I think I've been pretty good at that so far, but in the end, it will be the VC leaders themselves who will grade my performance.
We've also launched three new VCs since January: Global Chinese Language, Big Data, and Master Data/Data Quality. I think each of these is a great addition to the portfolio, and I look forward to seeing how they develop.
The next 3 months will include an in-person board meeting in May, the end of the budget planning cycle, as well as some work-in-progress with the VCs.
Are you taking advantage of PASS Virtual Chapters (VCs) to connect with and learn from fellow members around the world year-round? If not, I encourage you to check out our over a dozen VCs providing free, quality technical training online every month.
Whether you are a DBA, developer, or BI professional, there is a VC for you. There are VCs focused on PowerShell, Performance, Data Architecture, and SQL Azure. And the Virtualization VC is dedicated to promoting better management of SQL Servers in virtual environments.
VCs also provide valuable networking opportunities for data professionals with common interests. The Healthcare VC caters to database pros working in that industry. The Women in Technology (WIT) VC hosts events for discussing issues pertinent to women working in IT. And data professionals who support multiple database platforms share their experiences in the SQL Server/Oracle VC. In addition, the Professional Development VC provides a forum for exploring professional development in our competitive and always-changing tech industry.
I'm excited to announce that two new VCs will be launching soon. The Global Chinese VC will provide Chinese-speaking SQL Server users worldwide a way to gather and share information. Their first meeting will be March 19. Providing Chinese-language training is an important step in PASS's growth as an international organization.
The topic of "big data" is becoming increasingly important to data professionals. And the new Big Data VC will provide opportunities to learn about the use of SQL Server with Hadoop and related technologies. The first Big Data meeting will be April 3.
We will be taking a closer look at each of the VCs in upcoming Connector newsletters, and I encourage all PASS members to take advantage of the excellent content and networking they provide. Invite your friends and colleagues, and seriously consider speaking at a VC meeting or volunteering with a VC you are interested in. Visit virtualchapters.sqlpass.org to learn more!
The Women in Tech Virtual Chapter has several activities on this year's Summit schedule. All attendees, female & male, are welcome at all of the WIT events.
The featured event is our 8th Annual WIT Luncheon and Panel Discussion on Wednesday Nov 10, 11:30-1:30. This year's topic is:
Recruiting, Retaining & Advancing Women in Technology: Why does it matter?
Increasing the role of women in technology has a direct impact on the women working in hi-tech, but the effects can go far beyond that. How do female tech workers influence innovation and product development? How do men benefit from having more women working in technology? Can the presence of women in tech affect a company’s bottom line? What does it mean for women and their families when they have access to hi-tech jobs?
- Nora Denzel, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Employee Management Solutions, Intuit
- Billie Jo Murray, General Manager, SQL Central Services, Microsoft
- Michelle Ufford, Senior SQL Server DBA, GoDaddy.com
- Denise McInerney, Staff Database Administrator, Intuit
- Stacia Misner, Principal, Data Inspirations
The WIT chapter will again be at the Welcome Reception on Monday beginning at 6:30 p.m. Come by our information table to meet other PASS women, sign up on our mailing list and help us cheer WIT members Wendy Pastrick, Jen McCown and Kendra Little during the Quizbowl.
On Tuesday at noon WIT members Meredith Ryan-Smith, Erin Stellato, Andie Letourneau and Kim Tessereau will lead a Chalk Talk on Energizing the Next Generation: Encouraging and Inspiring Young Women to Choose Tech Careers.
On Thursday during the lunch break WIT members will be at the WIT VC table for the "Meet the Chapters" lunch. Come by to meet and network with PASS women.
Follow the #passwit hashtag on Twitter for info on informal get-togethers with WIT members during the Summit.