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.
April 29, 2013 – Most PASS members are familiar with SQLSaturday events, but many of you may not have attended one yet or know exactly what they are all about. To refresh, SQLSaturday events are free, one-day SQL Server training events that bring together local speakers and attendees while providing high quality technical training sessions. In the true sense of community engagement, they are organized entirely through the efforts of volunteers.
I could go on about the value of SQLSaturday, but members of the PASS community have already done so through many social media and blog posts. Take Kathi Kellenberger, for example. She loves her SQLSaturday events and recently posted about her top 10 reasons why you should attend a SQLSaturday – it’s worth a read. I’d also like to point out Hope Foley’s post from a wowed community member who attended their first SQLSaturday last July. Both posts underscore the magic of SQLSaturday events and how important they are to the SQL Server community at large.
Whether you're attending a SQLSaturday or thinking about hosting your own, we think you'll find it's a great way to spend a Saturday – or any day (that’s right, some SQLSaturday events are held on other days of the week!). Here are the upcoming SQLSaturday events around the world in May; hopefully there is one near you:
May 11 SQLSaturday #209 – Rochester
May 18 SQLSaturday #212 – Redmond
May 18 SQLSaturday #216 - Krasnodar, Russia
May 18 SQLSaturday #220 – Atlanta
May 18 SQLSaturday #225 – Kosovo
May 23 SQLSaturday #208 – Riyadh
May 25 SQLSaturday #219 – Kiev
May 25 SQLSaturday #224 – Sydney
New events are added all the time, so be sure to bookmark the PASS SQLSaturday website and follow @sqlsat on Twitter.
April 2, 2013 – Serving on the PASS Board of Directors is a rich and rewarding experience. It’s also a responsibility that should not be entered into lightly. As we prepare for this year’s elections season, we have the opportunity to review the process for involving and evaluating candidates and for taking full advantage of this chance for the community to come together and share in the vision for PASS.
As part of a lean, not-for-profit, community organization, we must also evaluate the time invested in the election process to protect the return on community investment. With this in mind, a subset of the PASS Board is leading a review of the election process, and we are seeking your feedback on these objectives and their direction.
The objectives set out by the committee are threefold:
- Inspire more well-qualified candidates to run for the board
- Streamline the election process
- Improve opportunities for community engagement during the process
These objectives may expand or contract based on your feedback. Please share your thoughts with the team by emailing ElectionProcessReview@sqlpass.org or by posting on the Elections Feedback site.
The team has also given serious consideration as to how these objectives may be achieved. We would like to get your input on these proposals too as we will discuss them at the next board meeting, which will take place in Chicago on the 8th-9th of April. We are continuing to shape our plans and ideas, and commit to open communication as we move forward in the coming weeks and months with changes to the election process.
Of the goals identified, this is the most important one to me. We do need to inspire more well-qualified community members to apply and share their experience at the board level. We are also keen to ensure that we attract an international audience. It is important to remember that as part of the Global Growth program, we will have at least one regional seat in 2013 (for the US and Canada). I will also be asking the board to vote in the April Board Meeting to create the EMEA regional seat.
Our focus at this time is to:
- Proactively encourage candidates to apply
- Reduce the burden on candidates applying to run
- Make it easier for candidates to campaign for votes
As part of his work with the new Volunteers portfolio, Sri Sridharan has taken up the challenge to identify ways to encourage members to apply for the board. We realise we cannot simply wait for people to apply nor rely on our own networks. We must make it clear what the benefits of being part of the board are and also outline the commitments involved.
We can make two significant improvements to the application process that will make it less onerous for candidates:
- One form. Currently the candidate needs to fill out an application form and then provide separate campaign materials. We should make this simpler and more coherent.
- Max two references. In my application during the 2012 election, I provided eight separate references. That’s more than I’ve provided for any job ever!
Finally, by providing a more structured program of events and activities during the campaigning process, we can make it easier for candidates to be heard. It also helps to level the playing field.
Streamlining the Election Process
There are a number of changes we are thinking about to streamline the overall process. By shrinking the timescales, we aim to inject greater interest and enthusiasm into the election process. It is difficult to sustain interest when a process is drawn out. We believe we can optimise the schedule to really help drive interest with these changes:
- Reduce Nomination Committee (NomCom) workload
- Create a single time period for campaigning and voting
- Significantly reduce the time period for campaigning and voting from 23 days to around 7 days
Part of the NomCom’s workload is driven by the data they are provided by the candidates. We need to ensure that simplifying the application process for the candidate doesn’t dramatically increase the workload of the NomCom. In an ideal world, the workload would be reduced for both parties – so that is the goal.
Improving Opportunities for Community Engagement
To date, the opportunities for the community to engage with candidates have been limited to the PASS election forums. We are looking to improve this area significantly and hope to share more with you in due course. Wendy Pastrick will be spearheading this area of the initiative. Items under consideration are as follows:
- Increased use of social media
- Enhanced layout of candidates web page
- Improved reach by making election content accessible to the widest audience we can
By improving the accessibility of campaign materials and providing greater public interaction with candidates, we aim to significantly increase the engagement level between candidate and community during the election process.
We are in the process of defining what this is all going to look like. However, you should expect much greater use of social media, such as hosted Twitter Q&As with candidates, to really drive a deeper, more personal and impactful campaigning period in this election.
INSERT <Your Idea> HERE
Being on the PASS Board is a fantastic experience, but it does not give anyone sole rights to good ideas! Please share yours with us. Feel free to post them to the Elections Feedback site or in private via the ElectionProcessReview@sqlpass.org email alias.
Thank you for your time,
April 1, 2013 – Congratulations and welcome to all the members of this year’s PASS Program Committee! Guided by Program Director Adam Jorgensen and co-Program Managers Amy Lewis and Lance Harra, the Program Committee is responsible for organizing a world-class PASS Summit educational program that equips SQL Server and Business Intelligence professionals for today’s fast-changing world of data.
The 58-member group – PASS’s largest volunteer committee – reviews and selects speakers and sessions for PASS Summit, builds guidelines and resources for creating top presentations, ensures all PowerPoint slide decks meet the highest standards, and works to improve processes for developing and evaluating speakers and encouraging participation in all PASS speaking opportunities, from local and Virtual Chapters to SQLSaturday and 24 Hours of PASS to the Business Intelligence Conference and Summit.
As the PASS Summit 2013 Call for Speakers draws to a close this week, Program Committee members stand ready to begin their work and deliver an exceptional lineup of sessions and speakers. Without further ado, here is your 2013 Program Committee:
|Application & Database Development
|Angela Henry, Lead
||Craig Purnell, Co-Lead
||Colin Stasiuk, Co-Lead
|BI Platform Architecture, Development & Administration
|Scott Murray, Lead
||Roberto Finger Fonseca
|Venkata Krishna Chintapalli
|David Peter Hansen
|BI Information Delivery
||Kimberly St. Jacques
|Christopher Price, Lead
||Ben Debow, Co-Lead
||Pat Wright, Co-Lead
|Cloud Application Development & Deployment
|Mindy Curnutt, Lead
||Jose Guay, Co-Lead
|Enterprise Database Administration & Deployment
||Yani Robel, Co-Lead
|Nicholas Cain, Lead
|Doug Lane, Lead
March 26, 2013 – It’s hard to believe we’re just one week away from the end of Q1 2013, and the PASS SQLSaturday “firsts” just keep coming all over the world.
At this point last year, we had 12 SQLSaturdays, compared to 13 this year. And even though there’s only one more in comparison, several of last year’s hosting cities have moved to later months in 2013, opening up space for some new locations to join in. This year, Q1 has seen two new countries (Mexico and the Philippines), two new North American states (New Mexico and Connecticut), and two new cities (Detroit in the US and Exeter in the UK). It’s so exciting to see these events continue to grow and provide free, quality SQL Server training - in many cases, in communities that rarely if ever get such an opportunity.
In addition to new events, we’ve welcomed several new sponsors to the SQLSaturday arena already this year. It’s rewarding as a mentor to see organizers get better each year at marketing and getting support for their events, especially at the local level. The skills it takes to show that a SQLSaturday is a good investment will cross over into other areas for these organizers, such as being better able to negotiate a higher salary or convince their employers to provide more training opportunities as part of their annual increase.
Of course, “selling” a SQLSaturday isn’t easy for everyone, especially first-timers, which brings me to something I’ve seen less of these past several months: SQLSaturday blog recaps by organizers, speakers, and attendees. And that’s too bad, because the lessons learned by others have been invaluable to SQLSaturday newcomers for years now.
I encourage the community to get back to blogging their experiences at these events. Organizers recapping the lessons they’ve learned in hosting a SQLSaturday help every volunteer team and event coming up, particularly those considering hosting one for the very first time. Speakers can provide some great feedback and tips to organizers, especially since they often participate in so many of these and other training events. And each attendee has his/her own unique experience at a SQLSaturday.
Everyone can provide some insight as to what worked, what could have been better, and ideas for the next time. For SQLSaturdays in particular, the sharing of these experiences has been key to the growth of one of the most recognizable “grassroots” events in our community. Let’s not stop now!
As 2012 draws to a close, I’m growing increasingly excited about the start of another year full of opportunities for PASS. With the Board of Directors elections completed and a new Board starting in 2013, it’s time to assign portfolios for the upcoming year. Next year sees the return of an old portfolio and the combining of some existing portfolios. It also brings us both returning Board members and new leaders.
Adam Jorgensen headed up the Summit Program portfolio this year and will return to that position next year, leading the team that selects the amazing educational sessions for the largest SQL Server and BI training and networking event in the world. The Program Committee just completed its work for Seattle and is gearing up for PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte.
Denise McInerney will return to the Virtual Chapters portfolio next year and will also handle 24 Hours of PASS. There are many similarities between these portfolios as well as cross-portfolio opportunities, so it makes sense to assign them to a single director.
Rob Farley will guide the SQLSaturday portfolio. These events are seeing tremendous growth throughout the world. With our continued focus on serving members around the globe, we expect these free events to reach and positively impact even more members in 2013.
James Rowland-Jones, elected to the Board after serving a 1-year appointment, will continue leading the Global Growth portfolio. We’ve made great strides in the past year getting feedback and laying the groundwork for better supporting the global community. Now it’s time to build on that work and put the next steps into action.
Wendy Pastrick will begin her term on the Board by leading our Chapters portfolio. PASS’s support of local Chapters through Regional Mentors, Community Evangelists, tools, best practices, and more has grown tremendously over the last few years, but there’s still much to do.
Sri Sridharan, also newly elected to the Board, will guide the returning Volunteers portfolio. As we continue to grow PASS’s volunteer pool, it’s important to have a dedicated a team to coordinate volunteer activities across the organization. Although this portfolio has existed in the budget, it hasn’t had anyone assigned to it for several years. We are still defining exactly how the Volunteers portfolio will align with our other portfolios, but by the end of 2013, we expect to see more volunteers, better organized, and with greater recognition for their valuable contributions.
In addition to the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Douglas McDowell; VP, Marketing, Thomas LaRock; and Past President Rushabh Mehta – as well as Founding Partner Board members from CA and Microsoft, this is the team that will lead PASS for the upcoming year. Please congratulate them on their portfolio assignments and offer them all the support you can. We’re expecting great things from them.
(Reposted from my blog; read the original post here.)
Do you know someone in the PASS Community who is a hidden hero? Perhaps a chapter leader who is doing terrific work to help the SQL community. Maybe it's a member who is putting in 110% to organize a SQLRally, a virtual chapter leader who is organizing great sessions, or perhaps it's a speaker you’ve seen go above and beyond and speak at multiple chapters/virtual chapter events this month. There are so many people who contribute and make the SQL community so vibrant that finding those who stand out is tougher than ever!
These people are the lifeblood of the SQL Server community. They freely give of their time to make PASS the premiere SQL Server association, and it's about time we start recognizing them!
Since I've been volunteering with PASS, one thing that has always struck me is how rare it is that PASS actually recognizes outstanding volunteers. When I first joined, we only had the PASSion Award, which is awarded yearly at the Summit to the single volunteer who had the “most” outstanding contributions. In more recent years, we’ve done a better job of recognizing additional people who are outstanding volunteers through the outstanding volunteers presentation at the Summit. However, these volunteers all come from the PASSion Award nominations, and those nominations are only open just prior to the Summit.
I’ve always thought that we should recognize volunteers across the organization in a more consistent way, and not revolve that recognition around the Summit. Luckily, the opportunity to do something about this lack of recognition knocked earlier this year, and we’ve made progress. In last week's Connector, there was an announcement about nominating volunteers to be recognized as outstanding volunteers of the month. The initial intent is that we’ll accept email nominations during every month for any volunteer who has made outstanding contributions to the community. Those submissions will be reviewed on the last day of the month, and recognition will follow the next month. Initially, we are planning to recognize these outstanding volunteers with a nice certificate and highlight them in the Connector newsletter. It's not much compared to what these people do day in and day out, but with success over time, hopefully we can expand this a bit more. For a start though, I think this is a good first step down the right road.
We intend to have the first recognition cycle start in March, so that means that submissions are due by 2/29. Please, take a moment and send us an email with as many details as possible about the contributions of an outstanding volunteer who has made an impact in the SQL community. As always with these types of things, the more details the better!
Please join me in congratulating James Rowland Jones and Kendal Van Dyke on their appointments to the PASS Board.
James is a member of the SQLBits organizing committee, a very successful SQL Server event program based in the UK, and has been an international advisor to the PASS Board since August 2011. His approach to problem solving and well thought out ideas and discussions have been a valuable asset to the Board. Kendal is a passionate PASS volunteer and leader of the MagicPASS Chapter based in Orlando, FL. who has demonstrated thoughtful and persuasive arguments around PASS governance issues.
For those of you wondering how and why these two appointments were made to the PASS Board – read on!
PASS Board members that are elected to at-large positions serve two year terms. If they aren’t able to complete their term the bylaws state these seats are “filled, by a majority vote of the Board of Directors, for the unexpired term.” Prior to a June 2009 bylaw change these vacated seats with unexpired terms were filled by Presidential appointment.
The current process to fill vacated seats is simple and PASS Board Directors’ votes are publicly recorded. The Directors get to vote for the people who they feel will best serve the organization. It’s important to note that these appointments require a majority vote of the Board.
Board seats usually come available through resignation or a Board member moving to the Executive Committee. As of January 1st, Douglas McDowell moved to the Executive Vice-President of Finance role by Board election and Andy Warren resigned his seat. This means there were two Board seats to fill with terms expiring at the end of 2012.
While the President no longer appoints Directors, they do to put forward candidates. I did this in consultation with the Board in hopes of a smooth appointment process.
In this case, I focused on choosing the best individuals from among our membership to fill these slots. I based my decision on several factors: personal experience, whether the individuals stood for election, Nomination Committee rankings, and vote totals during the election. I also considered what they might be doing once on the Board. For example, we have an opening in the SQL Saturday portfolio that would be nice to fill without shuffling or doubling up. I also wanted to consider people from outside North America. Much of the growth for PASS over the next few years will be international and I wanted to see if we could find someone to help facilitate that growth.
I put forward James Rowland-Jones and Kendal Van Dyke as my recommended candidates. The Board discussed the appointment selections at length. We discussed a variety of potential candidates, including the two I put forward. We looked at several approaches for choosing candidates including appointing the two best people we knew, selecting the next highest vote getters in the recent election, choosing based on portfolio need and appointing based on geographic region. A portion of the discussion was placed under NDA in order to candidly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and the Nominating Committee information. It didn’t seem appropriate to discuss individuals’ strengths and weaknesses in the public minutes– especially since some of those individuals may not have known they were even being considered. In the end the motion passed 11 to 1 to bring on James and Kendal.
I am confident that these individuals will serve PASS and its membership effectively. Our meeting minutes will be published in a week or two. Please feel free to drop me a line with any comments or feedback, or simply comment on this post.
(Condensed from my Community Pollination blog – read the full version here.)
If you are part of the SQL Universe, you know that SQLSaturday #100 was held in São Paulo, Brazil, a week ago. I can hardly put into words just how epic this event was and how thrilled I am that I was able to be there to witness not just SQLSat 100, but the very first of these events to take place in Brazil.
Our journey began on Thanksgiving Day (Rodney luckily had enough SkyMiles to go with me and present), and we arrived in São Paulo Friday mid-morning. We were greeted at the airport by two of the main SQLSaturday event organizers, Felipe Ferreira [blog|twitter] and Laerte Junior Poltronieri [blog|twitter].
These two gentlemen have been putting up with my twitter “pushing and prodding” to host a SQLSaturday since February. When I saw their official event request come through in July, the very month I began working for PASS, it was like the icing on the cake for me! I don’t think they really believed at first that a SQLSaturday could happen in Brazil, but these guys and energetic volunteer Andressa Martins [blog|twitter] totally brought it! They had a lot of support from Microsoft Brasil’s João Nunes and Viviane Ribeiro [blog|twitter], as well as expert speakers from all over this large country, several of whom are PASS user group leaders. Right away you could sense that there is a strong SQL community across Brazil, and it was wonderful to see them all supporting each other at this event!
The event had a cap of 300 attendees, which it reached within the first month of being posted. The wait list was over 200 by the day of the event, and around 250 people attended. The event team released 40 from the wait list, but hadn’t forecasted what the drop-off rate would be. They plan to make sure to release more for their next event – a good lesson learned for all of us.
Bright and early Saturday, we headed to the event venue at Microsoft’s offices, which were donated as part of their sponsorship. The event was held on the 31st floor, making this not only the first SQLSaturday in Brazil, but at least for me, the highest one! The event came staffed with Microsoft employees handling the check-in process, while the volunteers filled nice backpacks donated by sponsor Ka Solution with swag. In addition to Ka Solution and PASS, SQLSaturday Brazil sponsors included SolidQ, Mainwork (a Confio partner), RedGate, and SQLSentry. It was nice to see the continued support of these companies for a SQLSaturday outside the US.
The line of registrants quickly grew very long, snaking from the bottom floor (where they were checked through security) up to the 31st floor, and all the way down the hallway, past the elevators. The SQLSaturday opened with a keynote from Microsoft and remarks from the organizers – all in Portuguese. The event had three tracks totaling 18 sessions, with two coffee breaks/delicious snacks and sub combos for lunch. (Personal lesson learned: Do not try to drink Nespresso by the gallons, like you do coffee in the states!)
The day closed with sponsor raffles and end-of-day announcements. When it was my turn to talk about PASS, I started to ask the attendees if they wanted to see more of these events in Brazil – and before I could get the words out, they were all cheering and clapping. Needless to say, we have several conversations going on now with leaders and volunteers to host several more SQLSaturdays in Brazil. My guess is that a country its size could easily sustain 4 or 5 events a year.
The after-event get together featured some of the most amazing food ever and lots of cold beverages, supplied by João Nunes. Besides all the great conversation, we enjoyed entertainment by a Big Band – full on with saxophones, trombones, and drums! The room filled with cheers to the end of a very successful SQLSaturday and thanks for PASS’s support in helping to bring this event to Brazil.
Below are just a few links to the many blogs and photos from this event. You can find more by searching for the #sqlsat100 hashtag on Twitter (this event has more post-event tweets than I’ve seen for any other SQLSaturday – the buzz is still going strong).
With 250 chapters and counting, PASS is serious about its commitment to global growth. We are excited that members of the SQL Server community from far and wide can connect, share and learn in their own region! In November alone, 8 new chapters were created:
• Himalayan SQL Server User Group, Nepal (Leader: Shree Khanal)
• SQLPASS Egypt (Leader: Wagdy Ishac)
• Cambridgeshire SQL Server User Group, UK (Leader: Mark Broadbent)
• Montreal BI User Group, Canada (Leader: Dwayne Pindling)
• St. Louis BI Users Group, US (Leader: Phil Milner)
• Chicago BI User Group, US (Leader: Emre Motan)
• Quad Cities PASS, Iowa, US (Leader: Sheila Acker)
• New London SQL Server User Group, US (Leader: Victor Pavlovit)
November also saw the addition of 3 Regional Mentors recently appointed, for the US Northeast (Steve Hughes), US Southwest (Phil Robinson) and Western Canada (Colin Stasiuk). Find out more about Steve, Phil, and Colin from PASS Director Mark Ginnebaugh’s recent blog post.
To facilitate chapter development, educational webcasts geared towards chapter leaders are available for streaming from the Chapter Resources page (PASS login required to access). Recent webcasts include:
• Using Dot Net Nuke Websites with Mike Lawell
• Making Your Chapter Legal While Removing Stress with Arnie Rowland
Lastly, SQLSaturday keeps on growing with new events popping up all over the world. New SQLSaturdays are added all the time so be sure to keep tabs on the SQLSaturday event calendar for one near you!
• SQLSaturday#113, Indonesia, Dec 10, 2011
• SQLSaturday#108, Redmond, Feb 25, 2012
• SQLSaturday#109, Silicon Valley, Mar 3, 2012
• SQLSaturday#110, Tampa, Mar 10, 2012
• SQLSaturday#114, Vancouver, Mar 17, 2012
• SQLSaturday#115, Portugal, Mar 17, 2012
• SQLSaturday#107, Houston, Apr 12, 2012
• SQLSaturday#111, Atlanta, Apr 14, 2012
• SQLSaturday#112, Birmingham, May 12, 2012
• SQLSaturday#106, Puerto Rico, May 26, 2012
If you have any questions or comments about chapters, regional mentors, or SQLSaturday events, please contact PASS Community Evangelist Karla Landrum.