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
April 6, 2015--Over the past few weeks, we’ve been alerting people to something exciting: our new SQLSaturday website redesign. It’s now faster and easier than ever to manage, speak at, sponsor, or attend a SQLSaturday event! After a great deal of effort by our staff and community volunteers for months (years, actually) the update is finally here—we hope you’ll stop by and take a look! The redesign will significantly improve the SQLSaturday experience for attendees, speakers, and event and chapter leaders.
For starters, the new site makes it easier than ever to manage your SQLSaturday event or your Speaker Profile. One of the changes we’ve made is to tie in PASS accounts, so that leaders and speakers don’t need to juggle multiple account logins.
Speakers now have a universal Speaker Profile that is associated with their PASS accounts and can be applied across events. This change and others make it easier for speakers to manage and track abstract submissions, upload presentations, and get feedback about their sessions.
If you’re an event leader, you can now use your PASS account to access the Admin site—which has also received a facelift. The site features a cleaner, easier-to-use dashboard that will help to simplify the process of managing an event, including allowing you to associate an event with a chapter.
We’ve also improved the Session Management UI, which now supports a wider variety of session lengths as well as color-coding of tracks and rooms. Plus, you can add keynotes, rest breaks, and raffle draws as non-session items.
SQLSaturday attendees will benefit from the mobile-friendly redesign as well. Use your PASS account to manage your registrations, download SpeedPASS, pay for lunches, and deliver event feedback.
Sponsorship is an even more winning proposition, with a new slider and improved sign-up form that saves sponsors time and effort. (Sponsors will need to complete a one-time upload of new logo graphics to meet our improved display requirements, but beyond that, improvements will be effortless.)
We’re excited to hear what you think about the changes. If you have feedback or questions, we hope you’ll reach out to us at ITSupport@sqlsaturday.com.
Director, PASS SQLSaturday
March 3, 2015 – Hello fellow SQL Community Members! It's been a great year for PASS and a banner year for SQLSaturday in particular! By the time you read this post, we will have announced our 100th SQLSaturday event for this fiscal year. By comparison, it took us 1,480 days to complete our first 100 events. Event 200 came 510 days later, followed by event 300 after another 572 days. Thanks to the global growth of PASS and SQLSaturday and the determination and passion of our community and our organizers, we hit this last benchmark in record time.
Take some time right now to give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back. I'll wait...
Now that we've reached this milestone and as we look to the future of SQLSaturday, I think it's time to make a small change. This adjustment will help to provide a more environmentally sustainable program while enabling our individual organizers to buy promotional items that won't expire at the end of each year. Here's the plan: We're doing away with the numbering scheme that we've traditionally used for individual events. Instead, we're going to identify individual SQLSaturdays by the name of the city or region in which they are hosted. For example, the next time we produce a SQLSaturday in Kalamazoo, we'll call it just that – SQLSaturday Kalamazoo – rather than SQLSaturday Kalamazoo #501. Behind the scenes, we'll still use the same URL constructs and numbering (for internal purposes), but we'll market each event sans numbers. This means that we can re-use undistributed materials from year-to-year, and we can order in larger quantities for lower per-unit prices. This change allows for one of the things I love to preach about when I speak at SQLSaturdays: consistency.
I'm sure that some of you might have different ideas on the matter… perhaps ideas that lay somewhere between what I'm proposing and the status quo. The PASS Board of Directors really wants your input in the matter. We're planning on making this change mid-year, so if you want to make your voice heard, whether to let us know that you agree with the plan or to propose an alternative, reach out to the SQLSaturday Team at firstname.lastname@example.org, using the Subject line "SQLSaturday Renaming Plan."
I think the time has come for this minor marketing change, and I want to offer up full transparency. I have the privilege to help guide the program, but it's our amazing local organizers who continue to push us forward with such a successful program day in and day out! Please let us know here at the Board and PASS HQ what you think – and help shape the future of PASS and SQLSaturday.
– Tim Ford
PASS Director, SQLSaturday
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
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.
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.
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
My First Board Meeting - Grant Fritchey
PASS January Board Meeting – My Thoughts - Adam Jorgensen
February 3, 2015 – PASS is excited to welcome Kroll Ontrack to the Global Alliance Program as a Silver Level Partner, extending the company’s PASS Summit sponsorship into a year-round relationship that supports the worldwide PASS community.
Providing data recovery services since 1985, Kroll Ontrack debuted Ontrack® PowerControls™ for SQL Server® at PASS Summit 2014, giving DBAs a time-saving tool for restoring just the SQL Server tables they need without having to restore the entire database. Ontrack PowerControls, which supports snapshots or native SQL backups, lets you preview table content before restoration and drag and drop copied tables directly to your desired environment. Kroll Ontrack also offers industry-leading data recovery solutions and supports data professionals with learning events and a rich resources library.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with PASS as a Silver Global Alliance Partner,” said Greg Olson, senior vice president, Data & Storage Technologies, Kroll Ontrack. “Ontrack® PowerControls™ for SQL Server® would not have been possible without the direct input from PASS members. As a result of this teamwork, we can offer a tool that can drastically cut the time spent restoring SQL tables from hours to minutes. We look forward to being even more involved with the PASS organization and the SQL Server community through the PASS Global Alliance Partner Program.”
As a Silver Level Global Alliance Partner, Kroll Ontrack will participate as a Silver sponsor at PASS Summit and will be supporting PASS SQLSaturday events and the entire PASS community through Connector sponsorships, sponsored emails, web advertising, and more.
PASS sponsors are a vital part of the community, supporting the organization’s many training and networking opportunities, including free learning events. Through the Global Alliance Program, PASS looks forward to bringing many new opportunities and added value to our community and to our partners. For information about becoming a PASS Global Alliance Partner, please contact Craig Ellis.
January 6, 2015 – Happy New Year! It’s the season when everything feels in transition. Out with the old, in with the new. A wonderful and warm summer gave way to a crisp autumn, which has now turned to winter.
It’s also the time of year when we pause and reflect on what has happened over the past 12 months. We track our progress against the goals we set this time last year and think about what we want to accomplish in the coming year.
As I look back on 2014, one of the things I think about is Rimma Nehme’s PASS Summit keynote about making the transition from “DBA” to “Cloud DBA.” It’s a subtle shift in our industry, from “Earthed” systems to Cloud, but one that affects – or will affect – how we think about and do our jobs in the year ahead.
Many data professionals, including us traditional DBAs, are also finding additional career opportunities in 2015. Business and data analytics in particular is a growing field – as Stephen Levitt noted at the 2013 PASS Business Analytics Conference, there’s a dearth of people on the planet who can analyze data – and one that we’re excited about supporting.
Much of what we as an organization have done these past few years is take the necessary steps to help prepare PASS members for the transitions that lie ahead. From the latest SQL Server 2014 and Power BI features to Cloud, Big Data, and business analytics, we’re looking forward to continuing to serve the educational and networking needs of data professionals through our growing local and virtual chapters and events around the world.
For the PASS Board of Directors, it’s also the time of year for transitions. When we gather in Seattle later this month for our first Board meeting of 2015, we will welcome two new members: Grant Fritchey and Sanjay Mishra. I’m looking forward to working with them both in 2015 and beyond.
We will also say goodbye to Sri Sridharan and Olivier Matrat. Both will be missed, and we expect to see great things from them as they continue their contributions to the Community.
While in Seattle, we will also review the progress we’ve made on our fiscal year 2015 Board goals and portfolio goals, as well as set new goals for FY2016. Each Director will be asked to present their goals at this meeting. You can expect to hear more about our new goals in the coming months.
It’s a great time to be a data professional. And a wonderful time to be a member of PASS as we constantly look for more ways for our members to Connect, Share, and Learn. Best wishes for whatever transitions you’re preparing for in this New Year – we’re looking forward to helping you meet all your data goals!
– Thomas LaRock
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 email@example.com.
– 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
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
December 17, 2014 – This year, Data Scientist and PASS volunteer Dev Nambi joined the Programs team to help with PASS Summit 2014 sessions scheduling and predictive analytics. Over the past month, Dev and the team have been digging into the data from both session attendance and session feedback, and we wanted to share the findings with the community.
In this first year of doing prediction for attendance, we saw a variety of results, including the reduction of overcrowded sessions. Dev details the results and provides a link to the raw dataset in his blog post PASS Summit Attendance and Predictions. With the lessons learned from our debut effort, we will continue to improve on and incorporate prediction models into our Summit scheduling process.
Dev and the team also examined Summit 2014 session evaluations. This year, we saw a 14.8 % return rate of evaluations from attendees, and we’re looking at ways to increase that number. Despite an increased possible margin of error based on the decrease in responses, we appreciate all the session evaluation feedback we received from attendees and are taking key findings into account as we start planning next year’s Summit. To view the correlations and rankings, please see Dev’s analysis in Say Anything! PASS Summit Feedback and Ratings.
A big thank you to Dev for the time and effort he spent analyzing and compiling the attendance prediction and session evaluations data. Thank you also to Summit attendees for using the Schedule Builder to help with attendance predictions and to the entire PASS community for your feedback. Moving forward, PASS Programs will continue assembling, sharing, and using this information and data analysis to help make the Summit experience the best it can be. If you have any comments or input, please don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Amy Lewis
Director, PASS Programs