Preparing for the Year Ahead

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
PASS President

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