PASS Board Elections: It's Your Turn

Last week, the PASS Board of Directors ratified the official slate for the 2012 Board of Directors General Election. It’s my pleasure to announce the candidates for three Board seats up for election, listed in the order of their Nomination Committee (NomCom) ranking:
•    James Rowland-Jones
•    Sri Sridharan
•    Allen Kinsel
•    Wendy Pastrick
•    Kendal Van Dyke

The NomCom began evaluating applicants for the PASS Board in August, carefully reviewing each application and interviewing each applicant. Now, it’s up to the community to decide who will fill three 2-year terms on the PASS Board.

As PASS’s Immediate Past President, I can tell you that it takes a lot to be effective on the PASS Board. And as Chair of the NomCom, I can tell you that all the candidates have valuable leadership experience and are “PASSionate” people. To decide which candidates you want to lead your organization, especially as PASS continues its rapid growth, it is important to research and evaluate each candidate. You can learn more about each candidate on the 2012 Elections’ Candidates page.

The elections forums and campaigning are open now, and voting will take place September 28 to October 12. If you were a PASS member before June 1, 2012, you are eligible to vote and will receive a ballot by email. The top three vote getters will be elected and will begin their terms January 1, 2013.

I encourage you to have your say – both in the elections forums, where candidates will be replying to your questions, and by voting. Good luck to all the candidates, and happy voting everyone!

Rushabh Mehta,
Immediate Past President/NomCom Chair

Elections Season: Help Shape Tomorrow’s PASS

The PASS elections season is almost here! PASS elections are an important annual event, letting members have their say about where they want PASS to go and who they want to guide the world’s largest independent, user-led organization for SQL Server professionals.

In my previous role as PASS President, I was proud to watch PASS’s impressive growth across the world, thanks to the efforts of our hardworking volunteers and leaders. Now as Immediate Past President, I’m excited to oversee the PASS elections and see a new generation of leaders steer PASS in this time of enormous change and opportunity to better serve the global SQL Server community.
 
The Nomination Committee (Nom Com) manages the entire election for Board of Directors – from qualifying and interviewing potential candidates to determining and ranking the final slate. Joining me on the NomCom will be a volunteer from the Board of Directors and three community members elected by the PASS membership.

The main qualification for serving as a community member on the NomCom is a demonstrable record of volunteering with PASS. Applications for the NomCom will be accepted May 30 to June 6. And all PASS members as of June 1, 2012, are eligible to vote in the NomCom election that will follow. The top three vote-getters will complete this year’s NomCom and will immediately begin preparations for the Board of Directors election.

I encourage you to get involved – whether you’re encouraging others to join PASS as voting members, talking about how to improve the organization, or running for office yourself. If you’re interested in applying for the NomCom or the Board of Directors, you can learn all about the process at the PASS Elections site. As community discussions gear up, let current leaders and candidates know what issues are important to you. And please vote. Support the candidates of your choice, and help shape tomorrow’s PASS!

Regards,
Rushabh Mehta
PASS Immediate Past President/NomCom Chair

PASS Goes Global

We are excited to introduce some changes to PASS in an effort to connect global SQL Server communities and foster relationships between our professionals – wherever they’re located. PASS began in 1999 with a vision to empower all of our SQL Server communities to connect, share, and learn. To meet these objectives for our global community, PASS needs to change who we are and how we engage with communities. The direction for how we evolve needs to be paved by people representing the diversity of voices we want to support and connect with.

Earlier this month, representatives from PASS traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, to meet with key community leaders Johan Åhlén and Raoul Illyés from the Nordic region, James Rowland-Jones and Simon Sabin from the UK, and Rob Farley and Greg Low representing Australia/New Zealand. These leaders represent regions that have vibrant and healthy communities and bring diverse voices and viewpoints as well as a shared passion for the SQL Server community.
 
The primary purpose of the two-day meeting was to discuss our shared goals to strengthen and connect global communities and how we can work together to help all of the communities. The team identified an initial set of priorities that we all believe to be important first initiatives, including:
• Localizing communications from PASS
• Increasing the value proposition of chapters
• Supporting global events
• Exposing event content

As a first step, based on the recommendation from the team that met in Stockholm, the PASS board unanimously voted to appoint Raoul Illyés, James Rowland-Jones, and Rob Farley as non-voting members of the board for a period of one year.

We welcome the ideas and enthusiasm that each of these leaders has brought to their respective communities as an opportunity to help shape the future of PASS. These three appointees will join a team that will define a plan to evolve our governance structure so that PASS better meets the needs of global communities. As a secondary objective, this team will actively participate in various board discussions to ensure that the global perspective and needs are central to every PASS initiative.

We recently read a quote from a TechNet wiki that states, “Individuals are smart, but communities are wise.” These changes are based on our belief that the efforts to connect individual international communities will make all communities stronger. We hope you share our excitement about this next stage for how PASS can support you and your local SQL Server communities.

Are we there yet?

Things have been buzzing at PASS with the 24 Hours of PASS web event in March, the first-ever PASS SQLRally conference in Orlando in May, the ongoing SQLSaturday events, and PASS Summit in October. With all the activity going on though, you might be wondering about the European Conference. What’s happening with this event? Is it taking place? Is it dead? Is PASS focused just on US events now?

The answer to the last is a resounding ‘no!’ Let me take a step back to give you the longer answer and address the other questions.

The PASS Board met at the last Summit for a full day deep-dive into PASS planning. Central to our discussions were two key topics: global growth and the European Conference. We talked a lot about how PASS as an organization can better reach out to SQL Server users around the globe, what governance models could work best, and how to more effectively achieve our mission of connecting, sharing, and learning with users worldwide. We set a goal to support as many global regions as possible with a viable event model.

At the meeting, we also discussed and approved postponing the European Conference from its ‘usual’ Spring timeframe. The reason was partly due to time constraints and partly because we felt we needed to examine if what we were offering was truly a ‘European’ conference and if we were fulfilling the needs of the regional user communities in the best way possible.

Do we have an answer? Not yet but we’re working on it. We’re discussing ideas with community leaders in Europe and looking at a bunch of options. We’ve gotten great feedback on the SQLRally model: 2-day grassroots events delivering high quality training at a low cost. In fact, plans are underway for 2 more SQLRally events to be delivered in 2011! Watch out for information soon on the SQLRally Nordic event being organized by an awesome group of local community leaders in Sweden.

We’re really excited about the response from the community and about extending the SQLRally model around the world. We’re working on providing future SQLRally organizers with templates, guidelines, best practices, and other building blocks so they can more easily produce excellent events regionally. This model may be the one to follow for now. Perhaps we can grow the organization, volunteer, and member bases to the point where we could run an event in Europe–and elsewhere–along the lines of a PASS Summit. That’s a goal to strive for!

So, we’re not there yet but we hope to arrive soon. If you have any comments, ideas, contributions, or want to host a SQLRally event in your region, let us know. Climb aboard and join us for the ride!
 

Rushabh Mehta

Farewell to Director Christoph Stotz

Dear PASS Members,

It is with great sadness that the PASS Board must bid farewell to Christoph Stotz. Christoph has been with the organization since its infancy, and throughout has been a passionate advocate for its cause. 

He helped launch PASS Germany in the early 2000s, a Chapter which is currently over 2000 members strong and a major hub for all things SQL Server in Europe. Christoph was also a foundational driving force behind the PASS European Conference, his tireless efforts instrumental in the event's growth and success. The Board of Directors recognized his skills and verve, and in 2005 he was appointed to the Board as an advisor on European matters. In time, his role encompassed a wider scope, and he became a champion for the global cause.

Christoph is stepping down to concentrate on a number of personal goals. He leaves a legacy that will be incredibly difficult to match by any successor to the role. In all his dealings with PASS, whether as Chapter leader, event organizer, or regional Director, Christoph was known for providing thoughtful analysis and sage advice at just the right time. His combination of wisdom and experience will not be easy to replace.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end. We wish Christoph all the best of luck in his future endeavors and have no doubt that success will continue to follow him wherever he goes. He will be missed!

PASS Board Appoints Geoff Hiten and Mark Ginnebaugh

Dear PASS Community,

I am sad to announce that the PASS Board of Directors has officially accepted the resignations of Brian Moran and Jeremiah Peschka. Each is stepping down for personal reasons unrelated to his involvement with PASS. Both Brian and Jeremiah have been instrumental in the growth and success of PASS and will be missed on the Board. We wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

On a positive note, I am happy to formally introduce two fantastic replacements for the vacated positions. The Board of Directors has approved the appointments of Mark Ginnebaugh, President of DesignMind in San Francisco, and Geoff Hiten, Principal Consultant with Intellinet in Atlanta, each to serve a term of one year on the Board. Geoff and Mark were both on the electoral slate in 2010 – more information about the outstanding qualities they bring to the organization can be found on the 2010 PASS Election site.

Please join us in congratulating Geoff and Mark on their appointments and welcoming them to the PASS Board of Directors!

Rushabh Mehta
PASS President

 

 

 

Transparency - Individual board votes will be disclosed

Yesterday evening at the Board Meet and Greet on day 3 of our PASS Summit 2010, we received overwhelming feedback from the community that individual votes should be made public. This is a topic that has been under active discussion for a few months and was also part of our board agenda for today. The board voted unanimously to make individual votes public except for topics which are considered NDA by the Board.  We will post more details on the same.

Thanks everyone who spent the time to provide valuable feedback.

Rushabh
PASS President

Preparing for PASS Summit

The countdown is on to what is truly going to be the best PASS summit ever. The PASS Board, our team at HQ, marketing and media consultants, sponsorship sales team, production teams, Microsoft, community leaders, volunteers, and countless other folks are working very hard to provide attendees with a truly unique experience. Two weeks back, I had the opportunity to meet with senior Microsoft executives in Redmond, to discuss among other things, the upcoming PASS Summit. They share in our excitement and disclosed all the hard work happening within the Microsoft SQL Server team to make PASS Summit a resounding success.
 
Community leaders are pitching in with amazing ideas and initiatives. For example, Aaron Nelson (@SqlVariant) is leading an initiative to promote and get attendees acquainted with #sqlhelp on Twitter. Our program committee has been working hard on refining program schedules and reviewing every session slide deck to ensure the highest quality of training. Board member Thomas LaRock is setting up a program to help first time attendees get the most out of their Summit experience and another Board member, Andy Warren is working on making our networking segment stronger than before. Mark Souza, the Microsoft Business Platform Division Director, is working on enhancing the interaction between attendees and the Microsoft engineering team. These are just a handful of initiatives underway to enhance your PASS Summit experience.

This year’s Keynotes include the much coveted session from David DeWitt on Query Optimization 101 that was chosen based on popular demand by you, our PASS members. The keynotes by Ted Kummert and Tom Casey are slated to be equally amazing and hold a promise of some big announcements. You do not want to miss the opening keynotes. Be in your seats before the keynote start time, rumor has it there might be some prizes up for grabs…
 
As always, our Women-In-Technology luncheon boasts another fantastic panel of speakers and promises to continue its tradition of providing insight on current trends and issues.
You also do not want to miss out on the Exhibit Hall and Community Learning Center. This is your one-stop-shop to chat with community experts and gather valuable details of products and services that will enhance your investments in the Microsoft SQL Server and Business Intelligence platform.
 
For those of you who want more, you will not be disappointed. There are a ton of activities slated for inside and outside of the convention center. Take a look at our Connect page and the After Hours page for more information. Also a big thank you to Joseph Guadagno for putting together this site to enable easy sharing of information about informal PASS Summit goings on.

With the community rallying behind this event, is it any wonder that this truly will be the best PASS Summit ever? If you have not yet registered to participate in the event, now is the time. Use the discount code PREZ to register with a $200 discount off the current full conference rates. Do not forget to enhance your training experience and register for the in-depthPre and Post Conference sessions.
 
See you in 5 weeks and don't forget to pack your kilt!
 

Rushabh Mehta
PASS President

 

Working Together Not Apart

Dear PASS Community,
 
There has been a healthy debate in the community surrounding the election process and the outcome where Steve Jones, a well-known member of the community, did not make the slate. Despite the outcome, the process that was defined and vetted by members of the community and board worked extremely well and addressed the concerns that were laid out by the community during last year’s election cycle. I thank the Nomination Committee for their volunteerism and hard work through the process. The proposed slate was approved by the board. I fully support the process and the decision of the board.
 
We have also come a long way towards transparency. Our books are open to you. You now know the details of our revenues and expenditures. The board has risen to the challenge of ensuring that this organization remains a solvent and vibrant organization. I am proud of the achievements of this and former boards and certainly aware of our many failures as we apply our limited resources to your volunteerism and support to build a better and more vibrant community. Over the past years, we have steadily increased our support to the offline community and also made inroads into the online world with very successful virtual events like 24 Hours of PASS and hosted trials. Your support of these efforts has been invaluable and I hope that you also benefited from these efforts.
 
This brings me to a rather painful topic. It was brought to my attention today that some people in the community have created multiple twitter accounts impersonating PASS and also our management company. The tweets have been divisive and are an attempt to sabotage an otherwise healthy debate. In doing so, these tweets are slandering personal reputations of people that have worked so hard to build this community and PASS. I place my trust in you to help bring an end to such divisive behavior and help protect the reputation of individuals that work for you.
 
In closing, I have one more thought – PASS is supported by an amazing management team that many of you interact with regularly, a volunteer board, and hundreds of volunteers around the world that work very hard with a single goal in mind– to build a stronger SQL Server community. We may not always succeed or make the right decisions, but we promise to keep working hard. All of us deeply appreciate your support and encouragement.
 
If you have questions, always feel free to send me a direct email at rmehta@sqlpass.org. I promise to do my best to answer your questions.
 
Sincerely,
 
Rushabh Mehta
President, PASS

 

Taking the PASS Mission on the Road

I love talking about SQL Server and PASS. Spreading the message of incredible value that they both bring to the lives of database pros has taken me around the globe several times in the past 2 years. (You can trace my PASS-related travels at the end of this post.)
 
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Kathmandu, Nepal, for the first time at the invitation of my friend Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Country Manager of Microsoft MDP in Nepal. I had heard a lot about Allen's work in the Nepal community and was eager to see it firsthand.

Allen had organized three get-togethers for us: a breakfast with CEOs from local businesses and financial and government organizations, a discussion with area college students, and a session with the local PASS Chapter in Kathmandu. But my visit began with an inspirational tour of Kathmandu and surrounding areas, courtesy of Rumi from Allen's office. We drove to the ancient city of Bhaktapur, a former capital of Nepal with beautiful temples and breathtaking wood, metal, and stonework. I then took Pinal Dave’s advice and visited the Pashupatinath Temple, one of the oldest and holiest Hindu shrines in the world, located on the banks of the Bagmati river in eastern Kathmandu. The heritage and culture at both locations were amazing, and I was even more excited to meet with business leaders and fellow SQL Server enthusiasts from this wonderful area.
 
The next day, Allen kicked off the CEO breakfast talking about the Top 10 wishes that people have. Interestingly, time travel made the list—I, for one, would love to be able to teleport given my life on airplanes (175k+ miles last year). I then discussed the value that business intelligence could bring to businesses, industry trends, and the value of the Microsoft BI Platform, including SQL Server and Office. I also walked through some high-level demos to illustrate the continuum from managed to self-service BI.

From talking with leaders at the pinnacle of their careers, we then moved to our meeting with students just starting out. I talked to more than 100 enthusiastic technology students representing 5-6 colleges in and around Kathmandu about data, databases, career opportunities in the database profession, and why they should consider learning about the SQL Server platform while in school.

Allen and I highlighted various resources that students could easily take advantage of to learn about SQL Server. I encouraged them to get involved in a local PASS Chapter and get their hands on the platform for free by trying out the SQL Server 2008 R2 Hosted Trial labs at PreviewSQLServer.com, sponsored by Dell, MaximumASP, Microsoft, and PASS. Allen reminded the students that they have access to free software from Microsoft. He also proposed creating certification study groups to help students achieve certifications. In addition, we talked about the potential of finding mentors for the students from the local SQL Server user group. Allen’s amazing work with students across Nepal to evangelize Microsoft products and build the next generation of users gave me some great ideas for PASS and our local and virtual Chapters.

My last event of the day was a presentation at the Nepal SQL Server Users Group on new self-service reporting and BI features in SQL Server 2008 R2. After the presentation and an active Q&A session, we had a great time socializing and networking over tea and snacks.
 
My day ended perfectly with dinner at the Nepali Chulo, a traditional restaurant with colorful décor and traditional Nepalese music and dances. I left for Mumbai the next morning with wonderful memories of magical places and warm and friendly people excited about how SQL Server and PASS can improve their businesses and their careers.

The work Allen is doing in Nepal to evangelize SQL Server and other Microsoft products is fantastic, and I look forward to more interaction with the Nepal SQL Server community in the future. And whether you’re on the road for business or pleasure, I encourage you to make time to visit a local PASS Chapter and connect with fellow SQL Server community members. We have a lot to learn from—and share with—each other.
—Rushabh Mehta
PASS President
 
 
A quick look at the Chapters, SQLSaturdays, and other PASS events I’ve spoken at in the past 2 years:
 
2010
Sri Lanka SQL Server User Group, Colombo (Feb ’10)
Burlington, Vermont UG (Mar ’10)
SQLSaturday #33, Charlotte, NC (Mar ’10)
Tampa SQL BI UG (Mar ’10)
PASS European Conference, Neuss, Germany (Apr ’10)
24 Hours of PASS (May ’10)
Nepal SQL Server UG (May ’10)
SQLSaturday #22 Pensacola, FL (Jun ’10)
 
2009
SQLSaturday #10, Tampa (Jan ’09)
Sri Lanka CEO Forum (Jan ’09)
SQL Server UG, Ottawa, Canada (Mar ’09)
PASS European Conference, Dusseldorf (Apr ’09)
SQL Server UG, Sarasota, FL (Apr ’09)
SQL Server UG, Ahmedabad, India (May ’09)
Sri Lanka Technology Forum (Jun ’09)
PASS BI SIG Live Meeting (Jul ’09)
SQL Server UG, Toronto, Canada (Oct ’09)
PASS Summit 2009 (Nov ’09)
 

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