Recap: Inside the PASS Board's June 2015 Meeting

July 30, 2015 — Our Board of Directors June 2015 meeting was held in Vancouver, Canada. Most of our meetings occur via conference call every month, but we try to meet in-face at least three times a year. At this two-day meeting we had a lot of topics to discuss and meeting in-person leads to better conversations than a phone call could ever provide.

You’ve already heard much of the news from that meeting from previous posts on the PASS blog and various articles in our newsletters, but here are the highlights.

· On Day 1 we welcomed two recent additions to the PASS HQ team: Georgia Dahle as director of Marketing and Charlie Yates-Bishop as director of Sales. As part of our regular review of internal PASS HQ processes, we also reviewed current IT priorities.

· We revisited a discussion from our January 2015 meeting regarding the introduction of Latin America (LATAM) regional Board advisors. Read more about that discussion here (in English), here (Spanish), or here (Portuguese). After reviewing candidates we voted to approve Eduardo Castro of Costa Rica and Diego Nogare of Brazil as our new regional advisors.

· We reviewed the 2016 budget and set a date (June 24) to vote on it.

· Jennifer Moser introduced guest James Phillips, Microsoft corporate VP of Power BI, who was there to give a presentation on Microsoft’s Power BI roadmap. After the presentation there was a healthy discussion about the PASS BA Community, the BAC, and Microsoft’s role in supporting our PASS family. (Read more about this topic here.)

· Day 2 opened with the PASS ExecCo elections. You can read about the results and your 2016 ExecCo here.

· We made a definitive decision about the 2016 BAC, which will be held May 2-4, 2016, in Santa Clara, California.

· The Board evaluated an offer to extend the PASS Summit Seattle venue for an additional year (2019).

· We made the difficult but necessary decision to retire the SQLRally event model. We explain this decision and what it means for PASS members here.

As you can see, it was a busy two days. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding any of these topics please don’t hesitate to contact us.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at Summit in just a few months!

Thomas LaRock
PASS President

SQLRally Update

July 13--For the past six months we have been reviewing the events PASS runs and supports. We’ve evaluated the benefits our events provide the PASS community, focusing on how these benefits align with PASS’s mission. During this time, we found that the goals for SQLSaturday and SQLRally are similar, with those goals being to:

· Promote PASS community growth by supporting opportunities worldwide to connect, share, and learn with fellow data professionals

· Promote the growth of speakers and leaders throughout our community

· Provide the opportunity for local-language content

PASS offers numerous opportunities for both community networking and in-depth technical training in-person and online with events such as SQLSaturday, 24 Hours of PASS, and virtual and local chapters. Through the efforts of our dedicated volunteers, the SQLSaturday event has seen remarkable growth globally, supporting technical training opportunities at a regional level. There were 98 SQLSaturday events in FY2015, compared to 36 events in FY2011, the first year SQLRally was introduced.

These facts led us to look again at the SQLRally event model and the benefits it has been providing to the global PASS Community.

SQLRally was aimed to provide technical content and an event experience between what was offered at a SQLSaturday event and what was offered at the PASS Summit. However, as SQLSaturday events have grown in popularity and add-on features such as pre-conference days have been introduced, they have become better suited as the event model to meet the benefits outlined earlier.

As a result, we have voted to retire the global SQLRally brand and event model.

The resources we have been investing in global SQLRally events can then be reinvested into other models with similar community outreach. In the coming days, we will distribute a survey to all SQLSaturday event organizers in an effort to better understand the opportunities that exist in enhancing the current SQLSaturday model. We will continue to use similar surveys to evaluate the needs of our global community in an ongoing effort to better provide the full breadth and depth of education and training for the data professionals that make up our membership.

If you have any questions or feedback, or if you would like to participate in this survey, let us know. It’s our goal to provide the best resources and training for PASS members.

Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Inside the PASS Board's May Meeting

June 23, 2015 — I wanted to take a minute to offer a recap of our May 15th meeting. The focus of the meeting was to review the “lessons learned” materials regarding the 2015 PASS Business Analytics conference. The discussion was led by Jen Stirrup, Director of the PASS Business Analytics portfolio. Here are the highlights from that discussion.

Jen reviewed the growing industry trends for Business Analytics and how PASS can play a critical role in that community. Organizations need people who understand data in a variety of ways (curation, administration, management, custodian, and analysis). Business analytics enables companies to incorporate data-drive decision making. PASS is well positioned to offering learning opportunities for members to expand their current roles into new careers, as well as offer companies seeking BA practitioners a place to find talented data professionals.

The PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015 presented the right content for its audience. A review of attendee titles show that the conference attracted and engaged its intended audience. According to a sponsor survey from the conference, 87% of exhibitors and sponsors are interested in future PASS BA conferences.

The Board heard from PASS HQ representatives about the opportunity that PASS has to support the BA community. With Gartner predicting in excess of 4 million analytics jobs by the end of this year many companies are struggling to find talent. People who work in data with a focus on the Microsoft data platform want to learn methods for making data-based decisions. PASS can help to foster this community and present content to support those needs.

PASS is working hard to determine the best venue and logistics for future BA conference events. The Board discussed potential options as well as resources and strategic direction.

A full review of the PASS BA 2015 conference will be held at the in-person June Board meeting in Vancouver, Canada. For more details about the May meetings, see the posted minutes on the PASS Governance page. Also, keep an eye on the BA Insights and Connector newsletters and on this blog, for news from the next Board meeting.

As always, stay in touch by contacting us. We welcome any and all feedback!

Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Inside the PASS Board’s April Meeting

May 13, 2015 – At the April PASS Board of Directors meeting, held April 9, attendees heard an update on the Business Analytics Conference 2015 and on PASS IT priorities. PASS Summit 2015 speaker selection methods were discussed, along with a reminder that it’s budget season. Here’s a quick rundown of the April meeting.

Business Analytics and the PASS Community Vision
PASS Vice President of Marketing and SQL Server MVP Denise McInerney recapped the goals of the Business Analytics Conference: to build a community of business analytics professionals and data professionals who realize the value of business analytics. She reported on attendance of the 2015 conference, as well as statistics regarding the ratio of new to return attendees, effective communication channels, and challenges and lessons learned regarding attempts to reach the target audience. She also outlined the onsite attendee experience for the Board.

Upcoming Budget Preparations and IT Updates
Adam Jorgensen, Executive Vice President of Finance & Governance, reminded the Board that the FY 2016 Budget will be reviewed at the June in-person Board meeting and the necessary steps to prepare for that meeting.

A PASS HQ representative also reviewed current IT priorities and the progress of the SQLSaturday website updates.

Watch for the recap of our May meeting soon. In the meantime, let the Board know if you have questions, comments, or ideas.

– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

I Do Not Choose To Run

by Thomas LaRock

Originally posted: link

In just a few weeks’ time I will travel to Vancouver to attend a PASS Board of Directors meeting. During that meeting the Board will hold our biennial officer elections. I wanted to take a brief moment of your time today to discuss these elections.

I will spare you the details of the PASS bylaws with regard to the officer elections. You can read all about them here if you want. The bylaws lack certain context, and that context is what I want you to understand today.

Years ago the process for officer election was simple. A person would serve two years as VP of Marketing, two years as VP of Finance, two years as President, and finally two years as Immediate Past President (IPP). That’s eight total years just as an officer. Folks were on the Board for ten years (or longer). The burnout rate towards the end of their service was noticeable.

During my early years on the Board we modified the bylaws to allow for a “shorter cycle”. We allowed for a candidate to be eligible to serve as President after just one term in either finance or marketing. By shortening the officer cycle to six years we wanted to avoid the burnout that comes in the last few years.

That bylaw change was not done to allow for one person to serve four years as President, even if eligible. That was not the intent then, and it is not my intent today.

I will not seek election for another term as President of PASS.

It has been my honor to serve you these past seven years on the Board. I’ve put a lot of energy and passion into service for PASS ever since I met Wayne Snyder in Orlando in 2004, and it’s been worth the extra effort.

I thank everyone for their support throughout the years. We’ve shared a lot of ups and downs together, and I would like to think I helped to make things better than how I found them.

I will move into the role of IPP where I expect to remain engaged for the next two years. There I will continue my efforts to help as many people connect, share, and learn from one another.

We’ve got a lot of work to get done still in 2015 and beyond.

Let’s go get it done, together.

Thomas LaRock

Inside the PASS Board’s March Meeting

April 8, 2015 – At this month’s PASS Board of Directors meeting, held March 12, the discussions revolved primarily around PASS Summit 2015 and the PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015, which will be held in Santa Clara, CA in just a few weeks. We also discussed budgets and initiatives for our chapters, including Virtual Chapters. Read on for the basics of the March meeting. 

Business Analytics and the PASS Community Vision
The Board heard about and discussed various logistics of the upcoming PASS Business Analytics Conference, which happens April 20–22. As you might expect, hosting a major event entails a multitude of tasks and details, from speaker and abstract evaluation, scheduling, lodging and venue choices, sales, feedback, and so on. As such events draw closer, the Board and other PASS personnel focus even more closely on ensuring that everything is in place to deliver a stellar experience for attendees and speakers alike.

In addition, Denise McInerney, PASS Vice President of Marketing and SQL Server MVP, emphasized that this conference is a pivotal piece in PASS’s vision to support the entire data community, including data analysts and Excel users, as it navigates new developments and constant changes in technology, tools, and strategies. Denise gave the Board an overview of her recent interview with Excel TV, in which she discussed the role of Excel in the conference as well as her own journey as a data professional. We all acknowledged the importance of communicating PASS’s vision and the opportunities that it presents to the data community via all the means at our disposal, be it through conferences, chapter or online events, or social media.

Chapters and Virtual Chapters
Next, Director of PASS Global Chapters Grant Fritchey gave the Board an update on PASS’s chapters and virtual chapters. A pre-approval for the FY2016 budget funds earmarked for the chapter and virtual chapter referral program and complimentary registrations was voted on, and approved. Referral program details and complimentary codes have now been sent to Chapters and will be sent to Virtual Chapter leaders within the week. If you haven’t received yours by EOD Friday April 10, please reach out to Carmen.Buchmann@sqlpass.org or Elizabeth.Jeffs@sqlpass.org

Summit Abstract Evaluation Review
Lastly, Amy Lewis, Director of PASS Programs, gave us an overview of the new abstract-evaluation service that PASS made available for Summit 2015 submissions. We looked at feedback from the committee regarding how many abstracts were reviewed, the average time spent on each, and the strengths and challenges of the process. We discussed the possibilities of offering the service again for Summit 2016. We also applauded the efforts and commitment of the review committee as we head into speaker and session selection.

We’ll check in again next month with a recap of our April meeting. In the meantime, remember, the Board is always interested in hearing your questions, comments, and ideas

– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Inside the PASS Board's February Meeting

February 26, 2015 – The PASS Board of Directors gathered this month, with discussions focusing on this year’s upcoming conferences, the first Town Hall Q&A webcast, and the PASS Volunteer Leadership policy. Here’s a recap of the February meeting:

PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015

We kicked off the meeting with an update on various programs from Marketing for the upcoming PASS Business Analytics Conference, being held in Santa Clara, CA, April 20-22. We were excited to receive confirmation that noted blogger and BI Brainz founder Mico Yuk will be appearing as the conference’s Day Two keynote speaker. Keep an eye out for upcoming news on the Day One keynote speaker.

We also discussed conference sponsorship and new Expo Hall initiatives, which will include the Excel-eration Lounge (with plenty of Excel-driven sponsors and content).

Town Hall Q&A Webcast

The first quarterly Town Hall Q&A webcast took place on February 11, and we were pleased to report that the feedback was positive for the first run of this. The recording for anyone who missed it is available here; written summaries for future Q&As will also be provided. The 15 attendees had plenty of questions for the Board around educational programs, this year’s elections, volunteers, budgeting processes and more. We’re looking forward to the potential that these Town Halls offer to open up communications between the Board and community members. I want to thank those who attended, and I hope to hear from even more participants at future Town Halls. Look for more information on upcoming Q&As on the Board Contact Us page and Connector as we head into the next quarter.

Volunteer Leadership Policy Update

Virtual Chapters Director Wendy Pastrick confirmed that the recommendations made by the Board at last month’s Board meeting were implemented into the PASS Volunteer Leadership policy. This policy sets parameters and guidance for volunteers in leadership roles within the PASS community. Wendy is now in the process of gathering and considering feedback on the most recent draft of the policy.

PASS Summit 2015 Call for Speakers

Programs Director Amy Lewis informed the Board that the Call for Speakers for this year’s PASS Summit, to be held in Seattle on October 27-30, would open on February 18 and remain open for one month. Information about submitting session abstracts appeared in the February 17 issue of the Connector, and I encourage those who haven’t spoken at PASS Summit before to submit an abstract – we even have an Abstract Evaluation service run by volunteers this year to help you fine-tine your abstract before submission.

We’ll continue to keep you up-to-date on what the Board is working on. In the meantime, I hope that you’ll reach out to any Director with your questions, comments, or ideas.

– Thomas LaRock

PASS President

Inside the PASS Board’s January Meeting

February 3, 2015 – The PASS Board of Directors kicked off 2015 with a 2-day in-person meeting in Seattle focusing on goal-setting, global growth and SQLRally initiatives, volunteers, the PASS Business Analytics Conference, and a recommitment to communicating regularly with the community.

Part of communicating better and more often involves letting our members know what Board members are working on and talking about, as well as getting input and feedback all along the way. Going forward, we will be posting meeting agendas ahead of time, summarizing discussions and decisions in recaps like this one (watch for January’s official minutes to be posted next week), and holding regular Town Hall Q&A webcasts for you to share your feedback and ask questions.

Our first Town Hall Q&A will be next week – Feb. 11 at 10:00am PT/18:00 UTC – and we look forward to discussing any topics from January’s Board meeting and hearing what your top priorities are for the coming year.

With that, let’s dive into our jam-packed January meeting.

Global Growth Committee
Last year, we began transitioning the PASS Global Growth portfolio into global growth initiatives for each of our community portfolio areas. Special Projects Director James Rowland-Jones (JRJ), who led the former Global Growth portfolio, highlighted the primary global growth goals for each portfolio, as set by the Executive Committee: reaching the community and beyond, growing leadership, enabling engagement by evolving the operational framework for PASS, using activity-based goals to gauge performance of regions, and being passionate, relevant, and influencing others to connect throughout the PASS organization overall.

To provide greater global representation, in 2013 the PASS Board converted one at-large seat to a Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) regional seat, currently held by Jen Stirrup. In preparation for converting another at-large seat into a Latin America (LATAM) regional seat for the 2016 Board elections, we are taking steps to add Board advisors from LATAM and have set eligibility benchmarks for the LATAM Board seat.

VP of Finance & Governance Adam Jorgensen will be chairing a global growth committee focusing on LATAM and filling that Board seat in 2016, calling on individual portfolio owners to participate as required. We are also starting to work on the strategy for targeting the next region.

SQLRally Model
Continuing the Global Growth theme, JRJ reviewed recent PASS SQLRally events and led the Board in a discussion about the pros and cons of this event model. A task force led by JRJ will review feedback and options and present proposals for a new, more flexible model for regional events. Further information on contacting the task force will be made available through the Connector soon.

Volunteer Leadership Policy
With each Board portfolio now having its own volunteers component – instead of having a separate PASS Volunteers portfolio – Board members spent some time talking about the wide range of volunteer leadership roles within PASS and the commitment it takes to be successful.

Acknowledging how important volunteers are to PASS as well as the many obligations people have inside and outside the organization, Virtual Chapters Director Wendy Pastrick reviewed the first draft of a PASS Leadership policy that provides guidance around volunteers in PASS leadership roles. The policy‘s guidelines are designed to help develop leadership skills, transition volunteers into new leadership roles, and support new leaders. We’ll be reviewing the policy draft, providing feedback, and sharing the next version with the community for feedback.

Business Analytics Update
Jen Stirrup, Director of the new Business Analytics portfolio, shared an update on the restructuring of the PASS Business Analytics Conference for 2015, including market research on redefining the target audience, new approaches to attract more attendees, updating the program, and a focus on community building.

Programs Director Amy Lewis gave an overview of the conference’s sessions, targeted at business and data analytics professionals, and the speaker lineup, which features some of the top experts in the industry.

VP of Marketing Denise McInerney updated us on marketing goals and successes, attendance forecasts and actuals, and demand-generation plans, stressing the importance of differentiating this conference from other data analytics events. Denise reminded us all to spread the word through our companies, social media channels, and various data communities we’re involved in – and I encourage everyone in PASS to do the same.

JRJ presented the projected versus actual sponsor sales and updated the Board on the BA Conference sales team focus and approach for lead generation and partner incentives.

With a clear picture of where and how additional resources could help the BA Conference teams hit the targets for registration and sponsors in this new market, the Board approved a $35,000 budget exception to support increased sales and marketing activities and resources for the conference.

The Board also discussed possibilities for local PASS-sponsored BA initiatives. We agreed to continue exploring options and speaking to members of the community and come back with a plan by June 30.

Improving Communications
A common theme throughout our discussions was how to improve communications and interactions with community members about all of these topics. From providing better and easier access to Board members and facilitating feedback to providing proactive communications and doing a better job of explaining what we’re doing and why, we know we can do more.

Denise reviewed some of steps we took at PASS Summit in November to enable better communications between the Board and community members, including the progress report on goals during the annual Board Q&A session and Board “office hours” in the Community Zone. Then Denise gave us an overview of the comprehensive plan the Marketing team is working on to get community input on and improve communications and interaction with all our members.

We’re already working to add a variety of ways to contact Board members directly from the Board of Directors webpage, as well as ways you can easily provide feedback or ask questions. And the Marketing team is reviewing how to better use all our communications channels and identifying new ones.

This Board meeting recap (and those to follow) is also part of our commitment to better communications, along with providing advance notice of Board meeting agendas – maybe even with a possibility of having time set aside to discuss community-requested topics – and hosting regular live web-based Q&A Town Hall meetings.

Board and Portfolio Goals
Each Director-at-Large also presented a draft of their portfolio goals for Fiscal Year 2016, beginning July 1, 2015, for discussion and feedback. You can read about each Director’s portfolio assignment here, and stay tuned for blog posts coming soon from each portfolio owner – as well as Board-level goals from the Executive Committee (made up of me, Adam, Denise, and Immediate Past President Bill Graziano).

Until then, please feel free to reach out to any of us with your questions, comments, and ideas and remember to join us Feb. 11 for our first Town Hall Q&A.
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Related posts:
My First Board Meeting - Grant Fritchey
PASS January Board Meeting – My Thoughts - Adam Jorgensen


Announcing PASS Board Portfolios for 2015

Oct. 31, 2014  With the PASS Board of Directors elections completed and thousands of community members and volunteers gathering at PASS Summit 2014 in Seattle next week, I wanted to share the details around your portfolio leaders for 2015.

It’s always exciting to match up Directors with the project portfolios where they can put their skills, experience, passions, and energy to best use for our members. Next year will see a few changes to our Board portfolios, including the continuing integration of the Global Growth and Volunteers focus areas into everything we do at PASS as well as the addition of a Business Analytics portfolio.

Without further ado, here are the portfolio assignments for 2015:

    • James Rowland-Jones, who led our Global Growth portfolio and was re-elected to the Board for the 2015/2016 term, will be spearheading our Special Projects portfolio going forward, as our ongoing efforts to better support the global community become an essential part of all of our portfolios. James’ project for 2015 will be to grow PASS’s sponsorship sales activities across the organization.
    • Wendy Pastrick, also re-elected to the Board for 2015/2016, will bring her experience in supporting and growing Global Chapters this year to her new mission with Virtual Chapters, leading our efforts to provide unparalleled online learning opportunities for the global data community through an ever-increasing lineup of language- and topic-focused VCs. 
    • Tim Ford has translated his passion and experience as a SQLSaturday organizer into guiding the SQLSaturday portfolio to even greater growth. We witnessed a record 86 free SQLSaturday events in FY2014 – 34 international SQLSaturdays and 52 US events – and will be rolling out a new SQLSaturday website, enhanced for attendees and organizers. With Tim’s continued leadership in 2015, we are focused on meeting the needs of even more data professionals around the globe through these popular free, 1-day training events.
    • Amy Lewis will take the momentum from a busy first year heading up the PASS Programs portfolio into 2015, continuing to improve processes, support community speakers, and lead PASS’s largest volunteer committees as they select sessions for PASS Summit – this year’s conference features a record 200+ sessions – and the PASS Business Analytics Conference.
    • Jen Stirrup, who led the Virtual Chapters portfolio this year, will be taking on a different role in 2015 as she heads up our new Business Analytics portfolio, helping steer the strategy around the growth of this young and growing community.
    • Grant Fritchey, who will begin serving on the Board in January, will take over the Global Chapters portfolio, working to grow and support local user groups with a great team of Community Evangelists and Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors throughout the world.

The 2015 PASS Board also includes the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Adam Jorgensen; VP, Marketing, Denise McInerney; and Past President Bill Graziano – as well as Founding Partner Board representatives from Microsoft.

Looking over the portfolio assignments above, you can’t help but see how essential community volunteers are to everything we do. Each portfolio leader works with valued volunteers in their area. In 2015, each Director will be focusing on how to better engage more volunteers as a vital part of every project.

As Sri Sridharan transitions off the Board, his work on the important tasks of growing PASS’s volunteer pool, better organizing volunteer efforts, and recognizing volunteers’ valuable contributions will continue through the focus and efforts of each Director and their PASS HQ counterparts. This is a similar method to how we approached the Global Growth portfolio, and we expect to see similar success.

The transition to new assignments is underway, and new and returning portfolio leaders will be meeting with community leaders and volunteers at Summit to get a jump-start on their projects. Make sure you say “Hi” at Summit – you can find us in the Community Zone throughout the week and at the Board Q&A on Friday, Nov. 7 – and volunteer to pitch in on your favorite projects. We can’t wait to get down to business!
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

 

PASS Board Elections: The Results Are In!

Oct. 14, 2014  The results are in for the three PASS Board of Directors seats up for election this year. After an extended elections season in 2014, we are proud to announce that Grant Fritchey, James Rowland-Jones, and Wendy Pastrick have been elected to serve for the 2015/2016 term. Grant will serve in the US/Canada regional seat, and James and Wendy were each re-elected to an open seat on the Board.

A total of 3,917 votes were cast this year by 1,570 voters. This is a slight increase when compared to the 3,904 votes cast by 1,514 voters in 2013. For those of us who enjoy data, you can see the voter turnout numbers for the past six years on the Elections Archive page. Results for the 2014 elections are as follows:

Grant Fritchey  1,295 votes     US/Canada seat winner
James Rowland-Jones   1,052 votes    Open seat winner
Wendy Pastrick 1,037 votes    Open seat winner
Sri Sridharan
   533 votes  

To review how the seats were awarded, please see the elections overview document. The newly elected directors will begin serving their term on January 1, 2015.

I also want to take a moment to thank Sri Sridharan for his two years of service on the PASS Board. And while Sri won’t be with the Board in 2015, I know we’ll continue to see great things from him as he continues volunteering and supporting the PASS community.

Now, a few words about voting eligibility for the 2014 elections. As noted in an earlier post, this year the PASS Board extended the deadline for members to update their profile and vote. We did this in an effort to ensure that as many members as possible had the ability to cast their ballot; you can read the details here.

Historically, we have seen the highest number of members casting ballots on the very first few days of the election. This year was no exception, with 535 members casting ballots on the first two days. Between September 26 and October 6, we saw 379 members casting their ballots. 

With the extension this year, we saw an additional spike on October 7, with 262 members casting ballots. Another 394 members voted between October 8 and the close of voting on Tuesday, October 14. 

I’m thankful that we were able to take the steps necessary to get ballots into the hands of the people who updated their profiles. Thank you for your patience, thank you for your PASSion, and thank you for taking the time to exercise your right to vote.

I also want to thank everyone who asked a question in the candidate forums or Twitter chats, who blogged and tweeted about the elections, and who made their voices heard. PASS will always need your ideas, your involvement, and your dedication. As PASS continues to grow, it continues to need more PASSionate individuals to step up and lead. If you're interested in moving into a leadership role within the PASS community, check out volunteer opportunities with your local PASS Chapter or favorite Virtual Chapter and take that next step toward possibly serving on the PASS Board yourself.

And finally, to the newly elected directors: We’ve got some work to do, and I’m looking forward to getting started. See you in Seattle!
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President