The PASS Board meeting wrapped up on Thursday in Seattle, and as promised, we discussed the Board appointment process for close to 90 minutes. We gave careful consideration to the membership feedback received over the last couple of weeks and reviewed all opinions. We understand and respect that certain of our members disagree with our decision. However, the Board members who voted in favor of the appointments of Kendal Van Dyke and James Rowland-Jones stand by their decision.
As PASS President, I erred in not clearly communicating how the appointment process would work. I should have been clear whether I would automatically recommend the runners up or choose from a broader pool for my recommendation to the Board. In the future, if we have known appointment openings prior to the start of the election process, I will clearly, and publicly, articulate how I plan to approach the appointment process.
In the next PASS Connector newsletter, we will provide a roundup of our latest Board meeting and will do so for every subsequent in-person meeting. I’m also encouraging PASS Board members to blog about their Board meeting experiences. We do publish the Board meeting minutes, but I recognize many of you do not have the time to review these lengthy public documents, so we’ll summarize as best as possible and publish the information in our bi-monthly newsletter. This will help us do a better job articulating and communicating PASS Board discussions and decisions.
Jennifer Moser, Microsoft SQL Server Senior Marketing Manager and PASS Director, recently talked with PASS Marketing Vice President Thomas LaRock about the upcoming virtual launch event of SQL Server 2012 on March 7, 2012.
Thomas: I understand Microsoft is celebrating the launch of SQL Server 2012 with a Virtual Launch Event. Why online?
Jennifer: On March 7, 2012 we will be hosting the first ever online event to officially launch SQL Server 2012. We wanted a place where anyone, anywhere in the world could simply log-in and be a part of this exciting experience. There are so many reasons why hosting an online event made sense to us this year, but the biggest reason is that hosting a virtual launch event allows our customers to consume content at their own pace while still experiencing all the benefits of a live event.
Thomas: Appreciate the focus on the international community. What can we expect from this experience?
Jennifer: We are excited to have over 30 sessions that introduce customers to the new capabilities of SQL Server 2012. Attendees will hear from industry experts + Microsoft executives and be able to connect with peers from the #SQLFamily. We will also have an expo hall and networking lounge – just as you would have in a live event. One of our favorite features about launching SQL Server 2012 online is the community aspect. Attendees can connect, share, and learn from their peers all from the comfort of their own home or office. Customers can also win badges and hundreds of cool prizes throughout this virtual launch.
Thomas: How is PASS participating in the SQL Server 2012 Virtual Launch Event?
Jennifer: We are very excited to have PASS participate in the SQL Server 2012 Launch Event with a PASS booth in the expo hall area. PASS will have videos, links to content, and live chats with board members, local chapter leaders and PASS HQ. Part of the experience will include three live streaming keynote sessions in US, UK & EMEA, and Asia Pacific time zones to reach the maximum number of people. Our goal is to make the event as friendly to people across the globe as possible and we are especially excited to highlight regional & local PASS leaders throughout the experience.
Thomas: Where do people go to register for the Virtual Launch Event?
Jennifer: The SQL Server 2012 Virtual Launch Event registration has just gone live. Visit www.sqlserverlaunch.com and register today. We’re really excited see you all on March 7th to experience the SQL Server 2012 launch!
The blog post below is written by James Rowland-Jones (JRJ) in response to feedback surrounding the recent board appointments. The post reflects his personal views.
In the Autumn of 2011 I started several journeys. One of them was to be invited to support and share my knowledge of the international community with PASS. As a Board Advisor I picked up roles for governance, chapters and steering sub-committees reporting into the “Global Growth” portfolio. This work didn’t just constrain itself to international endeavours either I also had to get to know PASS as an organisation. My role in the community to date has not been related to PASS at all. SQLBits has historically been my primary focus for community endeavour. Speaking of which I also had to play my part in the successful execution of SQLBits 9 and in parallel we also launched plans for SQLBits X. This has been no small undertaking. If you haven’t seen we have worked closely with the local Microsoft UK subsidiary and Microsoft Corp to secure SQLBits as the UK Technical Launch event for SQL Server 2012 – a feat that the whole organising committee can feel rightly proud of.
Before I knew it the elections were upon us. I had a decision to make. It felt very close. We really needed to kick-start the Global Growth portfolio and I was still feeling my way into my position as Board Advisor. I don’t think we had fully bottomed out the scale of the task before us when the elections came around nor the significance of the changes. SQLBits was also taking up an inordinate amount of time and then that meddlesome day job was also getting in the way.
Therefore to summarise, I did not run for election because I simply would not have been able to do the process justice. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I was delighted though that Rob, a seasoned PASS veteran, ran from the pool of Board Advisors and I supported his submission. Raoul clearly could not run as it would have breached PASS bye-laws had he been successful. It was also wonderful to see the dramatic increase in interest in the PASS board elections. As has been pointed out elsewhere it was an outstanding success and I congratulate all who were involved in that process.
When Bill approached me he said that he wanted to recommend the appointment of a Director to manage the Global Growth portfolio. I thought he was making the right strategic choice. Here’s why and note this is not about me but it is all about the role.
PASS is investing in Global Growth. It’s a strategic bet. The interest in the SQL Server Community internationally has never been higher and PASS needs to make the most of this. PASS needs to change to embrace it’s wider responsibilities – it’s an evolutionary step. My role to date has been to advise the Global Growth Portfolio and its sub-committees on what that future shape might be. As time has gone on it has become clear to me that my fellow international advisors and I are doing a lot more than advising. We are shaping the international agenda for PASS. We are spending money on it. There will be budget exceptions and there will be change – significant change. Someone needs to be accountable for that. As a Board Advisor I am not accountable – I am a Teflon coated consultant. Something needed to change and I am glad that Bill spotted this.
I therefore wholeheartedly support Bill’s desire to have a board director owning the international agenda. There is a job to do.
Now it is true to say that Bill could have appointed Rob, my fellow Board Advisor and now Director-at-large, to the portfolio of Global Growth. He was an elected official and had Global Growth experience. However, in my view, he chose instead to make another strategic choice. 24HOP is an international event – one that Rob has been committed to for a long time. It’s a sensible choice as it also aligns to Rob’s work to date with the International Events sub-committee within Global Growth. I am absolutely certain that Rob will be a huge success in this position and to me makes a very positive statement from the President about his commitment to the international community.
I’d like to close by commenting on why I decided to say yes and accept Bill’s nomination.
I believe that re-structuring PASS needs to start in 2012. I personally don’t believe it can wait for another election. The scale of the task before us is really quite significant. I have already invested over three months of time and energy into the international role. I know a lot more about this process now than I did back in August / September when this journey started. By accepting this appointment there was an opportunity to cement the global growth portfolio at Board level and allow us to move forward with accountability this year. Did I realise that there would be this need back when the election nominations first were announced? No – not in this timescale. You only need to look at the number of planned international SQL Saturday events to see that we cannot wait. The time to change is now. My personal view was that this is more of an extension of what I was already delivering for PASS at Board level. Adding someone else in would have in my view arrested our progress and also added cost – and waste - to the PASS organisation. Every Board member added, be it advisor or director, increases cost to the PASS organisation. In this instance we would have basically been doubling up. Remember the vacant slot I have been asked to fill is the Director for Global Growth. It is not a generic Director-at-large position. It was also at the Board’s discretion to fill the position or not. The Board did not have to fill them – they chose to. However, had someone else had been chosen to fill this role then this is what they would have been charged with doing.
That said, I do understand the concern amongst the community for appointing someone who did not go through the election process. Let me say that I think the concern is valid and with hindsight this process might have been easier had I stood for election in the first place. I don’t think anyone is doubting that. However, I have been vetted by your board for the last three months whilst doing the job of international Board Advisor. I can’t think of a more thorough interview. Therefore I do not believe that leaves either me or PASS either ethically or morally bankrupt and I certainly don’t believe that I have usurped anyone else’s right to be on the Board. Look at what has materially changed for me and for PASS. I now have a vote on the board and I am now directly accountable for the successful delivery of the Global Growth Portfolio. Costs to PASS are the same. My investment in PASS has increased. Accountability in place. Velocity protected. I therefore considered this to be a sound decision for all involved and I do not regret the decision to accept.
This year is an exciting year. In 2012 we have a new version of SQL Server containing some of the most exciting changes we’ve seen since 2005. We will also be making some strategic changes within PASS to help us scale this community organisation internationally. I look forward to engaging with you throughout this process and my only ask would be that you support the effort PASS is making to scale it’s reach so we can help support the international SQL Server community. You can help. If you want to have your say then do please feel free to contact me at JRJ@sqlpass.org. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you in the year ahead.
Recently the PASS Board of Directors confirmed the appointments of James Rowland-Jones and Kendal Van Dyke to serve the remainder of one year terms that had been left vacated. This action has caused some members of the PASS community to question the methods in which members to the Board are appointed.
The current process is as follows: The President puts forth a recommendation, the Board discusses, and, the entire Board votes. Typically the pool of candidates for an appointed seat comes from the candidates that were not elected and this year we also had the opportunity to consider a current advisor (Rowland-Jones) to the Board as a candidate, an option not available previously.
It is not the case – as some community members have stated in the last couple of days – that the next highest vote getter in the PASS election is automatically asked to serve for an appointed Board seat. I know this because in 2007 I fell 13 votes short of winning a seat in the general election and was not asked to serve a vacant seat for 2008. That honor went to Pat Wright. I was disappointed, to say the least, but I knew it was the right thing for PASS. Appointments are chosen in order to give the Board the best combination of skills to be successful in the coming year. That was true in 2007, and it is true today.
For these most recent appointments, the Board had thoughtful discussions and gave careful consideration to several potential candidates and the vote was 11:1 to appoint James and Kendal. This was not an easy choice for the Board to make. As is often the case, the hardest thing to do is also the right thing to do. And this was the right decision for the upcoming year.
The process for selecting the appointments used to be done solely at the discretion of the President. It was only recently that the bylaws were altered–based on community feedback–to have it go before the Board as a voting matter. In acknowledgement of some of the questions and concerns we’ve been hearing, I will ensure that some time be set aside during the next Board meeting (in two weeks, in Seattle) to discuss a method or process to properly address community concerns over Board decisions – maybe we can look at some type of PASS Ombudsman role to fill that need. Happy to hear about any other suggestions you may have. Leave comments below or email me your thoughts at Thomas.LaRock@sqlpass.org.
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.
For my first editorial as PASS President, I want to take a moment to thank all of you who voted in our Board elections in December and encourage you to get even more involved in your organization in this new year. It was awesome to see the excitement generated by a phenomenal slate of candidates and by wide-ranging community discussion about the biggest issues and opportunities facing our organization. I challenge all of us to translate that energy into creative solutions to help SQL Server professionals around the world connect, share, and learn. With your help, 2012 is going to be a great year for PASS!
One of the first tasks for the President each year is to assign Board members to portfolios, and I’m excited to announce this year’s portfolio leaders. The portfolios for members of the Executive Committee were determined when the Board elected them last June. Douglas McDowell will serve as Executive Vice President, Finance, and Thomas LaRock will serve as Vice President, Marketing. Rushabh Mehta moves to the role of Immediate Past President. These terms started Jan. 1 and run for 2 years.
Directors-At-Large are typically assigned a portfolio for a calendar year, although sometimes Board members will head the same portfolio for 2 years. This approach works best with the natural Board turnover and matching the desires of Board members with the needs of the organization.
This year, we have only one returning At-Large Director, Allen Kinsel, who is taking over the Chapters portfolio. Allen previously headed the Summit Program committee, and his experience leading a large volunteer team will be invaluable in the Chapters area.
Our three newly elected Board members – Adam Jorgensen, Denise McInerney, and Rob Farley – have also received their portfolio assignments. Adam will lead the Summit Program portfolio, putting his previous 2 years of experience on the Program Committee and service in two other portfolios to great use. Adam’s experience and combined technical and business skills will be central to the continued expansion of our Summit educational offerings.
Denise will take over the Virtual Chapters portfolio. Denise was instrumental in the creation and growth of the Women in Technology (WIT) Virtual Chapter and the growth of its leadership team, and I’m excited to bring her experience to all our Virtual Chapters.
And Rob will lead the 24 Hours of PASS portfolio, heading up our largest online events program and one of our greatest opportunities to reach more members. PASS has a tremendous opportunity to expand its offering of local-language events that can touch all parts of the globe. Rob’s drive and experience organizing events and volunteers will really shine in this portfolio.
Our last portfolio, the popular PASS SQLSaturday events program, will be filled when the Board appoints someone to fill one of two empty Board seats later this month.
I’m honored to be working with a Board that has more experience and depth than any I can remember. And I’m looking forward to this team and our army of volunteers accomplishing great things for PASS and the SQL Server community this year.