Sept. 24, 2014 – Hi, I’m Tom, and I’ve been busy trying to build a bigger umbrella for Mike.
Let me explain a bit.
Over the past week, I’ve seen a lot of dialogue regarding the decisions and direction the PASS Board has been providing as of late. I hope to clear the air a bit today.
I’ve been a member of PASS since 2004, on the Board of Directors since being appointed in 2009, and currently serve as your President. During that time, I’ve seen the PASS umbrella expand. We’ve grown from 39 chapters in 2004 to 279 chapters in 2014. I’ve seen the transformation of our five Special Interest Groups (SIGs) into Virtual Chapters (currently 27 VCs and growing). We now have global events such as SQLSaturday, SQLRally, and even 24 Hours of PASS. We even have events in different languages now, too! Just an amazing amount of growth, and we continue to attract new members to our events at a very high rate.
All of those events exist because a group of people came together 16 years ago to found the Professional Association for SQL Server. I know they are amazed to see the stats above and how big the PASS umbrella has become. I also know that if those same people would have had a crystal ball to glimpse 16 years into the future, they would be amazed at the depth and breadth of data technology options available today.
But when they founded PASS, they didn’t know Mike.
See, Mike isn’t a DBA. He doesn’t have any desire to be a DBA, either. Mike is part of an audience that has been named “Business and Data Analytics.” It’s a broad group, and one that is difficult to define. We know Mike works with data daily and wants to know more about all the options available to him today. He wants to connect, share, and learn with others.
Think back to a time when you worked alone (as many data professionals often do) and needed help. For many of us, we looked around and we found PASS. We attended events, made some friends, and built up a network of trusted resources that we would go to with questions or when we just needed some career advice.
That’s Mike, right now. He’s curious. He’s looking for help. If you recognized Mike and saw him standing in the pouring rain, needing help, and you had room under your umbrella…what would you do?
I know what I would do.
I want to help Mike. I want to build a bigger PASS umbrella. I want to bring Mike into our discussions, and I want to be a part of his discussions. Mike is exactly the type of natural partner for anyone in the business of storing and organizing data.
I want PASS to help facilitate the conversations that bring different groups closer together. I want PASS to break down the walls of those silos we always complain about in IT. By sharing our umbrella with Mike we will ultimately improve our own skills, and so will Mike. Everyone benefits from this arrangement.
I’ve seen this in action already at the Business Analytics Conference and the Microsoft MVP Summit. Roughly 50% of all Microsoft SQL Server MVPs are not traditional DBAs. They don’t spend their days with backups, restores, or racking servers. They are in the BA and BI space. We can learn a lot from them, and from each other. We have before, and we will again.
We can do this. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick, but we can make it happen if we work together.
That’s the direction the Board has been taking for the past 3 years.
I cannot stress this next point enough. We are not stopping our efforts with regards to SQL Server. We updated our branding to reflect the wider audience we want to help. Many people already call us “PASS” anyway, so changing the branding to reflect that made sense as the right thing to do. We are still legally known as the Professional Association for SQL Server, and that will not change.
I can see that there have been a lot of changes over the past few years. And when I look at the sum total of those changes, I can understand it might seem scary. But it doesn’t have to be scary if we think of the changes in a different way.
We are building a bigger umbrella, so Mike and his friends can get out of the rain.
I’m hopeful you will let him stand next to us.
That’s what we do here.
– Thomas LaRock
February 4, 2014 – Over the past few weeks, the PASS Board of Directors has been working to establish overall PASS and portfolio-specific goals for fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1, 2014. These goals will help shape both the direction and budget for PASS for the upcoming year. Here’s where we will be focusing our efforts and resources in support of the vibrant and growing PASS community.
Overall PASS Goals
- Establish PASS as the community leader in Microsoft data technologies.
- Deepen our reach throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) by increasing local and virtual programs to serve community members.
- Establish a foundation for PASS in Latin America (LATAM), working with local leaders to provide programs that serve Spanish and Portuguese-speaking community members.
To hold the Board of Directors accountable and help us achieve the aims we set as a group, we have also established some Board-specific goals:
- Global Growth: Refine and determine a scalable, global paid event model.
- Elections: Establish a process to ensure each eligible voter may cast no more than one ballot in a PASS election.
- Performance Management: Design and implement a performance-management program across portfolios and PASS Headquarters to provide visibility, transparency, and accountability.
- Technology Innovation: Enhance our information technology strategy, operational processes, and organizational alignment.
Each portfolio team has established its own goals based on these overall objectives. Over the next two weeks, each PASS Director will blog about their portfolio’s goals. We look forward to your feedback and working together to continue to achieve great things for the PASS community.
– Thomas LaRock,
January 7, 2014 – 2013 was a wonderful year for PASS. We grew in service to data professionals around the world across many areas – adding 31 local PASS Chapters, six new Virtual Chapters, and the inaugural PASS Business Analytics Conference – and welcomed over 16,000 new members. With 2013 now in our rear-view mirror, it’s time to look at what lies ahead for PASS.
Before we dive into the coming year, I want to thank Rushabh Mehta, Douglas McDowell, and Rob Farley for their many years of service to the PASS community as they leave the Board of Directors. Their hard work and dedication will be sorely missed.
Let’s also take a moment to welcome the new Directors joining the Board for 2014-2015: Amy Lewis, Jen Stirrup, and Tim Ford. Amy will be taking over PASS Programs, Jen will lead Virtual Chapters, and Tim will be responsible for the SQLSaturday portfolio. You can read about all the Board portfolio assignments on the PASS blog.
As PASS continues to grow, the Board understands the need for Directors to shift away from their historical role as “doers” and toward setting direction through strategic thinking. We have been taking measured steps as part of this transition. And after the 2013 elections, I shared the vision that myself, Adam Jorgensen, and Denise McInerney have for PASS as your Executive Committee (ExeCo).
Vision statements are good, but actions are better. So to start, every Board member is outlining their portfolio tasks so that we make certain they roll up to our higher-level goals and that we hold each other accountable. In my years on the Board, we have had a lot of great ideas but struggled with follow-through and accountability. We are aiming to change that in 2014.
I’ve asked all Board members to submit their goals for 2014 before Jan. 13. The ExeCo will then review the goals before the Board’s January in-person meeting and provide feedback about any tasks not aligned with the overall vision.
With your help – and the leadership of dedicated Board members – I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running this year.
Let’s make 2014 a year to remember, together.
October 11, 2013 – With the PASS Board of Directors elections completed and thousands of community members and volunteers gathering at PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte next week, it’s time to meet your Board portfolio leaders for the coming year. It’s been a pleasure, as one of my first tasks as incoming PASS President, to match up Directors with the project portfolios where they can put their skills, experience, passions, and energy to best use.
Here are the portfolios for 2014:
- James Rowland-Jones led our Global Growth portfolio over the past year, helping us gather feedback and lay the groundwork for better supporting the global community, including converting two seats on the PASS Board to regional seats. JRJ will remain with Global Growth and also lead Special Projects.
- Sri Sridharan began his term on the Board last year with the reinstated Volunteers portfolio and will continue the important tasks of growing PASS’s volunteer pool, better organizing volunteer efforts, and recognizing volunteers’ valuable contributions.
- Wendy Pastrick will continue leading our 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.
- Amy Lewis, newly elected to the Board, will begin her term heading up the Programs portfolio. Working with Director Adam Jorgensen, Amy has served as co-manager of PASS Programs for 2 years, helping improve processes and lead the team that selects sessions for PASS Summit and the PASS Business Analytics Conference.
- Jen Stirrup, elected to the new EMEA regional seat on the Board, will put her experience as PASS BI Virtual Chapter co-leader to valuable use in guiding the Virtual Chapters portfolio.
- Tim Ford, elected to the new US/Canada regional seat, will take over the SQLSaturday portfolio. A passionate SQLSaturday supporter, Tim organized Kalamazoo, MI’s first SQLSaturday. Over 80 SQLSaturdays were held throughout the world in FY2013, and we’re expecting continued growth of these popular free, 1-day training events as we focus on meeting the needs of even more data professionals around the globe.
The 2014 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 – and Founding Partner Board members from CA and Microsoft.
The transition to new assignments is underway, and new 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, join us at the Board Q&A on Friday, Oct. 18, and volunteer to pitch in on your favorite projects. We can’t wait to get down to business!
– Thomas LaRock
by Thomas LaRock
July 26, 2013 – Last week’s Executive Committee election saw myself (Thomas LaRock), Adam Jorgensen, and Denise McInerney join the 2014 PASS ExecCo team as President, Executive Vice President Finance, and Vice President Marketing, respectively. Along with Bill Graziano as Immediate Past President, we will serve the community for 2 years beginning January 1, 2014.
As part of the ExecCo elections process, we were asked to outline and discuss our vision for PASS for the next 2 years and beyond. When the elections were over we compared notes on the handful of items we feel are most important. The ones we believe deserve the most attention include:
- Establishing PASS as the community leader for Microsoft data technologies. The Business Analytics Conference was a great first touch into the BA/BI/IT-Pro markets. We plan to continue our efforts to serve this new audience with BA-related Virtual Chapters, the onboarding of new chapters, and a confirmed second Business Analytics Conference in the Silicon Valley next May. We’re proud of our efforts over the last 10 years to help the SQL Server community connect, share, and learn, and we’re looking forward to broadening our reach to all database professionals.
- Expanding our engagement and activity in regions outside the US. The EMEA region continues to grow within PASS, and everyone is excited about the EMEA Board of Directors seat up for election in September. More emphasis on LATAM in the coming year will be necessary to build an equally strong community in that region for eventual representation on the PASS Board. We’re also continuing our APAC efforts, although establishing more engagement and activity will require a longer time frame for success. The Global Growth Board portfolio is likely to dissolve as international effort and activity continue to permeate all Board portfolios.
- Establishing strategic relationships with our partners. We all recognize the need to institute a simplified engagement model for vendor participation within the PASS community. Merging our sponsorship and marketing efforts into one unified team is the first step to achieving this vision.
Thoughtful comments and questions in a recent blog post by Kevin Kline spurred this post. Kevin mentions two additional initiatives he’d like to see the new ExecCo focus on: a better volunteer structure and process and improved utilization of social media.
A PASS Volunteers portfolio was established at the start of the year, headed by PASS Board Director Sri Sridharan. Efforts are underway to better help PASS identify active volunteers and to provide a mechanism for PASS HQ and community leaders to publish volunteer opportunities. Look for updates on this project during PASS Summit 2013.
Kevin’s comments about PASS’s use of social media have not gone unnoticed, and the marketing team is looking at ways to take better advantage of all social media opportunities. You can expect to see more of PASS through various social media channels over the next 2 years.
So what are your thoughts about the direction we’re working on for PASS? Have feedback or suggestions? Drop the 2014 ExecCo Elect a note with your comments or post a response below.
2012 has been an amazing year for PASS in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to begin reflecting on the last 12 months. So let me start by simply saying “Thank you.” Thank you to the thousands of incredible PASS volunteers and everyone who organized, presented, or participated in over 540,000 technical training hours delivered to the global SQL Server community this calendar year.
PASS is 127,000 members strong and growing, and we owe it all to our vibrant grassroots communities. We currently have over 250 local PASS Chapters in more than 65 countries and 20 Virtual Chapters, including six new this year: Big Data, DBA Fundamentals, Master Data/Data Quality, and the language-based PASS Portuguese, Spanish and Global Chinese Language.
Beefing up our support for Chapters, Virtual Chapters, and local event organizers worldwide, PASS welcomed the addition of Niko Neugebauer as a Community Evangelist working alongside Karla Landrum. We also rolled out new and improved chapter tools to help leaders better and more easily serve their communities (see Allen Kinsel’s blog post about the enhancements) and debuted new MyPASS functionality that helps members easily manage their profiles and chapter subscriptions.
Local communities hosted 79 free SQLSaturdays this year – nearly an 80% increase over last year – with 30 of those events outside the US. (See Kendal Van Dyke’s SQLSaturday fiscal year-end report for some great details.) Just this month alone, we’ve had SQLSaturdays in Tokyo, Istanbul, and Washington, DC, with Nepal rounding out the year this weekend. And the 2013 SQLSaturday schedule is filling up fast.
The popular 24 Hours of PASS virtual events branched out into Portuguese and Russian versions this year, joining the annual Spanish and spring and fall English editions. And we saw SQLRally events in Dallas and Copenhagen, with a mini-event in Russia. More international SQLRally events are in the planning, including the 3rd annual Nordic SQLRally tentatively slated for November 2013. In addition, PASS was proud to sponsor nine non-PASS community events internationally in 2012.
And of course, we’re still celebrating a record-breaking PASS Summit, with nearly 4,000 attendees joining us in Seattle last month for the largest gathering of SQL Server and BI professionals in the world. All these events and associated recordings add up to 540,000+ technical training hours – or as I like to think of them, touches that improved someone’s SQL Server skills or professional development. With the inaugural PASS Business Analytics Conference in Chicago April 10-12, we’ll increase our data community reach by supporting business analysts, data scientists, architects, and BA/BI practitioners.
Throughout this year, PASS has also worked hard to ensure that global considerations permeate all aspects of what we do, focusing on making content and communications relevant for an international audience across geography, language, and time and validating and updating our event models for international communities. You can learn more about these initiatives on PASS’s Global Growth microsite. Next up is ensuring balanced international community representation on the PASS Board of Directors, with the Board working on proposed by-law changes to allow designating Board seats by geographic region. Stay tuned to provide additional community feedback once the proposed changes are published early next year.
As successful as this year has been, we still have much to do to better serve the community. And I believe the best is yet to come for PASS, thanks to your commitment to connect, share, and learn with each other. Looking forward to 2013, I’m proud to paraphrase the great Dr. Seuss: “Congratulations! Today is our day. We’re off to Great Places! We're off and away!”
My flights for PASS Summit 2012 are booked and I can’t wait to catch up with and extend my SQL family! There’s so much going at PASS Summit , it’s hard to know where to start. By now you’re all aware of the awesome technical content and pre-conference sessions available but what about some of the other great learning opportunities, the networking and plain old fun that’s always on tap at Summit?
Community Appreciation Party
PASS exists because of the huge groundswell of support and sheer hard work of the SQL community and we’d like to say thank you. On Thursday, Nov 8, all Summit attendees are invited to the Experience Music Project (EMP) for a light dinner, drinks, laughs, and music. At EMP, everyone can be a rockstar - cheer on your Summit friends as they belt out tunes backed by a live band or enjoy your own moment of fame with EMP’s rock star simulation. A Seattle landmark, the EMP is a cutting edge pop culture museum with rock ‘n’ roll roots.
Connect at PASS Summit
You’ll have ample time to catch up with old friends and make new ones at PASS Summit. From the First-Timers’ Orientation to the Welcome Reception, Exhibitor Reception, and interactive luncheons, PASS will make it easy for you to stay connected and network with other attendees. There will also be many informal after-hours activities taking place throughout the week – before, during, and after the official Summit schedule.
The PASS Summit session schedule (PDF) was recently published and you’ve got over 190 technical sessions to choose from over the span of 3 days. This can be overwhelming, I know. To help you out, PASS has put together a series of Expert Picks - lists of recommended sessions from the different perspectives of community experts and PASS Virtual Chapters. There is even a DBA 101 list and a DBA Masters’ list is in the works. Check it out, it’s worth your time.
Convince Your Boss
It goes without question that PASS Summit is the biggest and best SQL Server conference going. For those of you who haven’t yet signed up to attend, you need to convince your boss to send you. PASS has put together some information on who should attend, posted testimonials from past attendees, and created a handy value table to help you justify your attendance.
And If you can’t Convince your Boss…
We’ll bring Summit to you! We’re launching PASSTV this year – 12 hours of livestreamed content that will repeat during the evening so that every single SQL Server professional around the world can join in andbe a part of this great experience we call PASS Summit. Stay tuned for more details in the upcoming weeks.
See you Seattle!
Several years ago, someone gave me some advice that changed my life. Now, I’d like to pass it on: “You should run for the Board.”
The year was 2006. I was at PASS Summit in Seattle, talking with someone about PASS when they made that comment. Until then, I had been involved with the PASS Special Interest Groups (SIGs, now called Virtual Chapters), but I wasn’t well known in the PASS community as a whole. I looked over the requirements for serving on the Board of Directors, talked a bit about it with then PASS President Kevin Kline, and in the summer of 2007, I submitted my first application for the PASS Board. (I wasn’t elected that year, but ran again and joined the Board in 2009.)
I can say with all sincerity that applying for (and ultimately serving on) the PASS Board has been one of the most rewarding things I have done as a database professional. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much by serving the PASS community as a Board member, including leadership and presentation skills, budgets and finance, and communication and marketing strategies. Serving on the Board has made me a better person, and I hope along the way I’ve been able to help others improve their skills, careers, and overall well-being.
I believe SQL Server professionals have tremendous opportunities to grow themselves simply by being members of or volunteers with PASS. They can grow technically (such as learning more about SQL Server Reporting Services) and non-technically (by leading a Virtual Chapter, for example). It is important that we continue to offer such opportunities to develop leaders within the PASS community. Serving on the Board of Directors is one of those non-technical ways you can grow, and for some reason most folks are uncertain if they are right for the Board.
Today is the deadline for applying for 3 seats up for election on the Board. (You can see the complete 2012 elections timeline here.) If you are on the fence about applying, or are interested but aren’t sure if you are good enough, let me help you decide:
You should run for the Board.
After running three SQLRally events, both in the US and overseas, the PASS Board feels it’s the right time to step back and re-examine our SQLRally event options in the US. Orlando, Dallas, and Sweden have all been well supported, community-oriented, and successful events, but we’ve observed that the North American SQLRally events, compared to the international one, are more resource intensive for PASS.
So instead of charging ahead with the next SQLRally in the US, we want to take some time to review the model and determine what will work best going forward. This means no US-based SQLRally event will take place in 2013.
It is important to note that SQLRally is not going away. The event is modeled differently overseas and is so far working very successfully and efficiently. We hope to learn more from the international model with SQLRally Nordic taking place in October. We are also planning one or two more international SQLRally events in the upcoming fiscal year.
In the meantime for the US, our widely popular SQLSaturday events—40+ events in 2012, several with pre-conference days—are cropping up everywhere and giving members ample chance to improve their SQL Server skills in person. And, along with a review of the SQLRally model, we’re actively investigating other types of US-based event opportunities.
As always, we welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.
Welcome to the new PASS Connector. Over the years we have received a lot of feedback regarding how PASS communicates to our members through the use of this newsletter. What you are looking at today is our latest effort at responding to that feedback. Besides a new skin this updated version of the Connector has some key features that you may not notice right away. I want to take a moment to explain some of the features that exist today and some that will be rolling out very soon.
- The Community news section is in a distinct section, as well as the SQL Server product news. This makes it easier for readers to discern what information they are consuming.
- After many years of using a basic email marketing tool we have partnered with ExactTarget to help us bring you your local news and in your own language. We expect to have this feature rolling out by the end of April.
- The new design allows for more dynamic content, making it easier for us to update sections of the newsletter but also the skin itself. So if we wanted to make some minor changes we will be able to do so without it being a laborious process.
The use of ExactTarget will also make it easier for us to send out targeted emails for events such as a SQL Rally. This was something that PASS has been needing for a long time. It is also one feature that I am really excited about as it will also allow for PASS to do deeper analysis of our membership to make certain we are providing the very best services that our members are asking for.
As always we welcome your thoughts. Please let us know what you think of the new design. We value all feedback.
Thanks for reading, and welcome!