Category: PASS SQLSaturdays

Refreshing the Regional Mentor Program

January 6, 2015 – The PASS Regional Mentor program is all about providing trusted counsel, sharing ideas, and encouraging and supporting local Chapter Leaders and event organizers. From facilitating new Chapter launches and sharing ideas on how to market and grow local user groups to helping chapters find speakers, sponsors, and host a SQLSaturday event in their city, these dedicated volunteer “coaches” are charged with helping build a stronger data community around the world.

Over the past three years, we’ve been making minor adjustments to the RM program to fine-tune processes and provide RMs useful resources, help with consistency across regions, and provide better support to local leaders. Last month, we sent a survey to Chapter Leaders, asking for their feedback on how their RMs, and the program overall, were working for them.

With 18 of PASS’s 19 regions providing input, we were pleased to find that over 75% of respondents say their RMs have been very to somewhat helpful. According to the survey results, 42% of the Chapter Leaders are hearing from their RMs either monthly or bi-monthly, with another 23% hearing from their RMs at least quarterly. But there’s still room for improvement, with a little over 10% of Chapter Leaders feeling that their RMs are not very helpful and some saying they don’t hear from their RMs.

With the Chapter Leaders’ feedback, as well as input from RMs during their annual meeting at PASS Summit 2014 in November, we’ve identified some changes we think will not only help make this program even more valuable to Chapters and local events but will also enhance the volunteer RM role as a key stepping stone to other potential PASS leadership opportunities, including running for the PASS Board of Directors.

Here are the changes we’re making to the RM program for 2015:

    • All RMs will now live in the region they represent. We believe we have a large enough volunteer pool now to meet this requirement.
    • When assigning RMs for a region, we will make sure to choose representatives from various parts of the region to provide better geographic coverage. Again, with the growing number of PASS volunteers, this should be easy to achieve.
    • RM candidates who have prior Chapter leadership experience, have served on a Chapter Board, or have worked to organize a SQLSaturday event will be preferred over candidates without this experience.
    • We will prefer RMs willing to serve in this volunteer leadership role exclusively for the duration of the assignment, although in some areas we understand that this might not be possible due to limited volunteer resources.
    • We will be doing an annual renewal for each RM, based on reports from Chapter Leaders, fellow RMs, and HQ.
    • In the US, we received some feedback about the alignment of states within regions. Based on that input, we are shifting some states to create a new Mountain region and moving some other states around within existing regions*. We’ve also increased or reduced the number of RMs in certain areas, based on local needs.
    • As part of our commitment to helping RMs succeed, we will be meeting with them bi-monthly and providing a monthly summary of PASS initiatives and other resources and tools to help RMs provide better support for Chapter and SQLSaturday leaders in their region.

PASS is built on the shoulders of its strong volunteer community, devoted to helping fellow data professionals around the world Connect, Share, and Learn. And we want to say a special Thank You to all of our hardworking, dedicated RMs for the time, effort, and passion they share with Chapter Leaders and event organizers in their area.

We are excited about the improved service and support as well as the additional opportunities these changes will bring to the PASS community, and we look forward to hearing from RMs and local leaders throughout the year about how the refreshed RM program is working for them. Please send your feedback and ideas to ce@sqlpass.org.
– Wendy Pastrick
PASS Director, Global Chapters

* US Regions Realignment
US-NorthEast – CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT
US-MidAtlantic – DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA, WV
US-SouthEast – AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN
US-NorthCentral – IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI
US-SouthCentral – AR, LA, NM, OK, TX
US-MidWest – IA, KS, MO, NE
US-Mountain (new) – CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY
US-SouthWest – AZ, CA, HI, NV
US-NorthWest – AK, ID, OR, WA


Working on Strategy for Local BA Events

December 22, 2014 – With a growing interest in and questions among community members about expanding into business analytics-related chapters and adding more local events such as BA SQLSaturdays, the PASS Board of Directors took up the discussion at our last meeting of 2014.

PASS is pursuing a variety of online offerings to serve business and data analytics professionals and is working with the Virtual Chapters that cover BA-related topics. We are also excited about the possibilities in growing our BA-related local activities and creating more in-person training and networking opportunities. But to make sure that we are serving the community in the best way, the Board agreed on our Thursday conference call to suspend such further expansion until we can develop and agree upon a plan for structuring and growing these new BA community groups and events. (Look for the official minutes of this meeting to be posted on the Governance page in January.)

While we work with community members on a strategy that will successfully move us forward in supporting business and data analytics professionals around the world, we ask that you hold off on any new local PASS-sponsored BA initiatives. We’ll be looking for your ideas and feedback in the New Year – feel free to contact me any time if you have questions or comments – and please watch the PASS Blog and Community Connector for the latest updates.

Wishing all the #sqlfamily a safe and happy holiday season,
– Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing

SQLSaturday at Summit: Q&A Panels, Website Sneak Peek, and More

Oct. 14, 2014  Hello, PASS Community! It seems like it was just a couple months ago that we were meeting up for PASS Summit 2013 – I can’t believe it was actually a year ago. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again in person in Seattle next month.

As part of our Summit agenda, we always dedicate time to meet with our community organizers, including Chapter and Virtual Chapter Leaders, Regional Mentors, and SQLSaturday organizers. As Director of the SQLSaturday portfolio, I wanted to share some of what we’ll be discussing around SQLSaturday on Community Day at Summit, which is Tuesday, Nov. 4, as well as in the Community Zone throughout the week.

Kicking off the annual SQLSaturday Round Table will be a Q&A with the SQLSaturday leadership team, consisting of myself and our passionate Community Evangelists, Karla Landrum and Carmen Buchman. You can review the agenda here, and please bring all your questions and suggestions. We’re following up this year with some activities that go even further in supporting PASS’s mission statement:

Empower data professionals who leverage Microsoft technologies to connect, share, and learn
through networking, knowledge sharing, and peer-based learning.

We'll be hosting a new panel featuring some of our most experienced SQLSaturday organizers from around the world sharing their knowledge and tips and tricks for putting on successful events.

We’ll also be reviewing exciting updates to the SQLSaturday website, coming your way by the end of 2014. Working from your SQLSaturday website wish list – which we’ve cultivated over the past few years – as well as with a Community Focus Group, we’ve taken your feedback and ideas and put a great amount of time and consideration into building a more functional and modern web experience for SQLSaturday organizers and attendees alike. We can’t wait to show off the current version at Summit. You can find a list of all the wish list items that we’re integrating into the next SQLSaturday website here. We’ll also be emailing it along with a full Round Table meeting agenda to all SQLSaturday organizers for review in advance.

In addition, PASS Community Evangelists and SQLSaturday organizers from around the world will be available in the Community Zone Wednesday-Friday to answer all your questions – whether you’re looking for a SQLSaturday to attend or want to learn how to host one yourself. Check out the Community Zone Spotlight schedule to see when to stop by and meet with organizers from your area.

Our team is working hard to make these meetings as informational, transparent, and successful as possible, so we can quickly answer your questions, respond to any issues or concerns, and spend more time discussing how we can improve our future events. As owner of the SQLSaturday portfolio as well as a PASS Director-at-Large, I can’t wait to connect with all our passionate SQLSaturday organizers, volunteers, speakers, and attendees, share what we’re doing today to enhance everyone’s experience, and learn how we can better support SQLSaturday efforts around the world.   

Don’t forget to wear your favorite SQLSaturday shirt Wednesday at Summit, and I’ll see you in Seattle!
– Tim Ford
PASS Director of SQLSaturday


 

SQLSaturday Website Update

March 7, 2014  I wanted to thank everyone for all the great feedback we received on the PASS SQLSaturday goals. I know many of you are excited about the undertaking of the new SQLSaturday website.

There have been a few questions around open-sourcing the site that I’d like to address. Rebuilding the site  accessed by tens of thousands of SQL Server professionals a year – is a major IT project and needs to be undertaken in a controlled and concentrated environment. In concept, open-sourcing the site is an interesting idea, but in terms of execution, we’re simply not in a position to make that happen. The site will be created in the DNN environment in order to facilitate content management functionality for the 80+ volunteer organizers who put on events on a yearly basis.

We started the community feedback process back in the fall with roundtable discussions at PASS Summit and an open meeting with those who expressed interest in providing feedback. We are currently building out wireframes for the site and will share a prerecorded webinar in the next week or so for anyone interested in reviewing. In an effort to keep the feedback process as manageable as possible, we will set up a feedback site for a select group of representative SQLSaturday community individuals from around the world to help us shape this new and improved SQLSaturday website. If you are interested in putting your name forward to be part of this feedback group, please contact us via email with “SQLSat website feedback” in the subject line.
– Tim Ford
SQLSaturday Director, PASS Board


 

PASS SQLSaturday Portfolio Goals FY2015

February 17, 2014 – Greetings to all our PASS SQLSaturday organizers, volunteers, attendees, and sponsors! I hope everyone is recharged and ready for great things in 2014. I know I’m energized by talking with so many of you in the past few months since I was elected to the PASS Board of Directors.

Although my term didn’t officially begin until January 1, I’ve been in meetings, crunching data, and reviewing history so I would be prepared to serve as SQLSaturday Director on the PASS Board for the next two years. All this homework has proved invaluable for the beginning of budget planning and our first Board meeting of the year last month.

The Board still needs to work through the budgeting process before anything is 100% finalized, but I wanted to share the key SQLSaturday portfolio goals we’ve put forward for fiscal year 2015 (FY2015), which begins July 1, 2014:

    • Grow SQLSaturday reach and service to local data communities: We’re on target this fiscal year (2014) to see over 25,000 SQLSaturday registrations across over 85 events worldwide. Our goal for FY2015 is to increase those numbers to over 27,000 registrations across 90 SQLSaturday events, including at least three additional events in Latin America.
    • Redesign SQLSaturday website: This effort, probably the largest technology expenditure for PASS in the next year, is already underway and will be extensive, including functionality to facilitate events in languages other than English.
    • Adapt the SQLSaturday model for business analytics-focused events: We’re moving forward with our first Business Analytics Edition of SQLSaturday in Dallas this spring, ahead of the PASS Business Analytics Conference in May. And we look to facilitate four grassroots events at the local level in FY2014 to provide BA-focused content, grow speakers, and serve members.
    • Increase sustainability: Reduce event and materials cost through branding reuse and economies of scale where appropriate.

After years of volunteering for, speaking at, attending, and organizing SQLSaturday events, I’m looking forward to being your voice on the PASS Board. If you have ideas or feedback, please reach out to me at tim.ford@sqlpass.org.

See you at a SQLSaturday soon!
– Tim Ford
SQLSaturday Director, PASS Board

Regional Mentor Welcomes, Farewells

January 21, 2014 – PASS Regional Mentors are all about helping local Chapter Leaders and event organizers on their way to success. From supporting new Chapter launches and sharing ideas on how to market and grow your user group to helping you find speakers, sponsors, and even host a SQLSaturday event in your city, these dedicated volunteers are helping build a stronger data community around the world.

PASS is excited to introduce new and returning RMs for many of our regions, and please join us in extending a heartfelt thanks and best wishes to our outgoing RMs as they continue to serve the PASS community.

    • LATAM: PASS is welcoming a new RM team for the LATAM region this year, and we thank outgoing RMs Carlos Farias, Jesus Gil, John Bulla, and Mary Arcia – as well as departing Brazil RM Luciano Moreira – for all their efforts in building the foundation for LATAM PASS.
    • Middle East/Africa: Nabeel Derhem (blog | @NabeelDerhem) is partnering with Jody Roberts as RM for the Middle East/Africa region as Gareth Swanepoel moves from MEA to the US-Southeast.
    • UK: Jonathan Allen is leaving as UK RM, with Neil Hambly (blog | @Neil_Hambly) joining RM Mark Broadbent to support the region.
    • US - North Central: John Morehouse (blog | @SqlrUs) is teaming up with existing North Central RM Ted Krueger in place of outgoing RM Jason Strate.
    • US - Northeast: Mike Hillwig (blog | @mikehillwig) is joining Jack Corbett as RM for the US-Northeast as Steve Hughes finishes his tenure.
    • US - Southeast: As noted earlier, Gareth Swanepoel (blog | @garethswan) is moving from the MEA region to join Southeast RMs Kendal Van Dyke and Tim Radney in place of Jose Chinchilla, who is now part of the new LATAM RM team.

Thanks again to our outgoing mentors for all their contributions, and good luck to our 2014 RM teams as they support the growing PASS communities in their regions. If you’re interested in becoming a PASS RM and would like to learn more about this valuable role and future opportunities, please contact Karla Landrum.



PASS Board Q&A Recap

October 29, 2013 – The annual PASS Board of Directors Q&A session at PASS Summit 2013 covered the recent PASS Board elections, hosting PASS Summit outside of Seattle, and the PASS organization privacy policy, among other topics.

All current PASS Board members were on stage to help answer questions from the community. Here’s a quick recap of the top three questions and answers:

Q: There are concerns in the community that duplicate votes occurred in the recent PASS Board elections. How did PASS review the votes, and how did this affect the election results?
A:
The election results remain unchanged even when taking duplicates into account. Eligible voters were determined by unique email address and date entered into the system. All submitted ballots were compared to registration lists for paid PASS events. Duplicate ballots were discovered based on first name, last name, and address. Ballots were also compared to our membership data (people who fill in the member profile on sqlpass.org), and additional duplicates were uncovered based on identical first and last name and identical voting pattern.

Q: What are PASS’s plans to host another Summit event outside of the Seattle area?
A:
This Summit in Charlotte, NC, is the first time we’ve been out of Seattle since 2007! It has been a great success, but we are going to spend some time analyzing the pros and cons of hosting outside of Seattle before we decide to move to different locations. Booking facilities for events of this size happens years in advance, and we are booked in the Seattle area for the next 3 years.

Q: There was some confusion among PASS Chapter leaders about how to reach out to local SQLSaturday event registrants.
A:
Any Chapter Leader involved in organizing a SQLSaturday event may use the SQLSaturday sponsor opt-in list to append registrant contact information to their Chapter email list.

Announcing PASS Board Portfolios for 2014

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


 

PASS SQLSaturday – Get in the Game!

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.
 

Roll on, 2013: PASS SQLSaturday Continues to Grow!

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!