Another day in the life of a Microsoft data professional
Hope Foley, a former SQL Server MVP with over 16 years of experience in the IT world, has worked across many industries including insurance, health organization, and federal government. She now works for Microsoft as a Technology Solution Professional for the Data Platform team. She prior to that she has been a consultant in SQL Server technologies for over 9 years focusing on database administration and architecture, more recently in business intelligence. Hope is an active member in the SQL Server and PASS communities speaking at events and organizes the SQLSaturday event in Indianapolis.
Hope blogs at http://www.hopefoley.com/ and can be followed on Twitter @hope_foley
Seems the SQLStarter track is the only thing that brings me out of blog hiatus anymore. I keep meaning to blog but my life is triage and blogging just tends to fall off the vitals list. One day I’ll get back into gear. But today my friends I wanted to get the word out again for something I’m passionate, SQLStarter. If you’re inclined you can go back and read the posts from the past they are here.
I still truly feel that these career paths are a great way to change lives. One day I’m hoping someone will come up and say “I attended a session day that changed my life”. I’m passionate enough that I’m willing to yearly share embarrassing pictures from my days of questionable judgment (older posts reference).
And what do I ask in return for this good laugh? I am looking for speakers to fill the spots. If you’re interested in helping, can hit me up on Twitter/email/carrier pigeon. And for everyone else, helping to get the word out would be great! There’s an info page setup at site here and you can RT messages on #SQLStarter hashtag.
Last year I pulled together an idea that had been haunting me for a long time and started the SQLStarter track in Indy. You can refer back to my blog post on the creation/inspiration. I can tell you, the day of the event I watched intently the attendance for the sessions in the track. So glad to see it was really well attended and I got great feedback! I would really like to thank all the speakers who helped get this going. Thank you so much to Josh Fennessy, Dave Leininger, David Maxwell, John Deardurff, Traci Marcero, Kevin Kline, and Jim Bennett! You guys will never know how grateful I am for your help getting this off the ground!
I’d like to bring it back again this year so I’ll need speakers again. All the sessions are intended to be introductions to different tracks in data related fields. If you would like to be involved, please let me know. I think the tracks below worked well but if you have thoughts/suggestions, I’m all ears. Also please help get the word out to people thinking about getting into a new career or starting out.
Have you ever had an idea for something and it completely haunts you? Something that pops in your brain all the time and keeps you up at night? Something where it feels like the universe NEEDS you to do it? I have had this idea brewing for a long time and I now have some key pieces in place to finally get it out there so it can stop haunting me.
First a little history to understand a portion of the inspiration behind this. Back in middle school and early high school, I hung out with a group who got into a LOT of trouble. There are some situations I look back on where my future was sitting on the edge of a knife. If I had zigged many days, instead of zagging, my life could be completely different. I have a lot of friends who didn’t finish high school and went down paths that are hard to reverse, living paycheck to paycheck. My home town of Anderson, IN and hell my family is completely full of people I’d like to help get on a different path.
So with those folks in the back of my mind, I also see the greatness of the SQL community and the WEALTH of resources out there for free. I also hear over and over that we don’t have enough people to fill these data related jobs. I know that recruiters hit me up all the time. So if I can reach someone out there who is ready to go down a different path and is motivated to put in the work, we can change some lives!
Now SQLSaturdays are already reaching people and changing lives. They changed my life, without a doubt. But I know I have met beginners at those who are intimidated and scared when they attend. Can you imagine going into a SQL internals class when you are brand new to the scene? Hell they may give up right then and say screw it, this stuff is way over my head. So at SQLSaturday Indy I’m going to setup a total beginner track. I’ll be giving the first session of the day where it will be an easy intro into the different data related career paths you can take. Then the rest of the sessions in that track will dig a bit deeper into each one. These sessions will explain high level concepts and the kinds of work you would be doing. And of course, giving details of where they can find more information after they figure out which avenue intrigues them.
This is where I need your help SQLFamily! I need people to assist with these area focused sessions. Will need 5-6 sessions to fill out the rest of the track. These are the ones I’m thinking now but am open to suggestion (beggers can’t be choosers).
I also want to start a way to help keep in touch and connect with these people as they go out into the world after SQLSaturday Indy. Seeing how well Twitter and some hashtags work, I’m starting another one called #SQLStarter. We can use it to help answer questions, and point these beginners to new resources. I also would like to start making recruiters aware of it as well so they can post jobs appropriate for beginners.
So there…the idea is out there and hopefully the universe will stop haunting me to do this. Hoping this is the spark and the beginning of something spreads to other SQLSaturdays/User Groups/whatever. And as kumbaya froo froo as it sounds, feels great to put some good out into the world!
I’m back home from PASS Summit 2015 and reflecting on the experience. I think I even still have a little bit of the goofy grin that I couldn’t wipe off my face all week. I do so love PASS Summit! This was my 5th consecutive one. I went back and looked through some of my previous blog posts and I still have all the same giddy, giggling idiot feelings I have had all these years. Below are my top 10 highlights of this year’s PASS Summit.
10. Calories don’t count at PASS Summit – Ok this isn’t really true but I pretended it did. After I had an egg white omelet at breakfast the first day, it was all downhill from there. It’s difficult to eat well at a conference and I missed eating like a truck driver so I took a healthy eating sabbatical while there. The Morning After burger at Tap House is very good by the way.
9. Great Sessions – As with every Summit, I didn’t catch as many sessions as I would have liked (highly recommend purchasing DVD/download of sessions for this reason). I did catch my dear friend, Mark Vaillancourt’s (Twitter | Blog) session “A Bigger Boat: Data Visualization Lessons from the Movie Theater”. Mark always cracks me up and I always enjoy his sessions. Great information on perception with the right balance of humor mixed in to it.
I also caught Kasper de Jonge’s (Twitter | Blog) session “The Analysis Services Evolution”. Poor Kasper had all the presentation planets align against him. He couldn’t get the screen to display except setting up like he is in the picture below. He handled all the issues VERY well and it was a great session. Folks were excited to hear of the new features in SSAS so that helped too.
8. Birds of a pitiful feather – On Friday they had the Birds of a Feather lunch. This is where they will setup tables with specified subjects. It’s always nice for good discussions. I went with my friend and former co-worker, Meagan Longoria (Twitter | Blog) . I was thinking I would sit at the Datazen table but turned out there wasn’t one. I did find a table though on geo-spatial. There were only a couple folks sitting there at the time so we sat there. After chatting with them for a couple minutes, they left and Meagan and I manned that table together alone (cue the All By Myself song). We had fun but that was a lonely subject table(reason I said pitiful)! The whole Birds of a Feather lunch seemed to be scaled down a bit more than in years past too.
I also missed the lunch where they setup tables for regions. I always met new people at each lunch from my area who weren’t familiar with the local user group. I’ve connected with several folks over the years at that lunch. Not sure of others experience but I missed it.
7. SQL Mystery – Doug Lane (Twitter | Blog) is a brave man! He had a couple of sessions at Summit where he uses other speakers as cast members in his sessions. It’s like incorporating community theater into his technical sessions. I was asked to be a cast member in “SQL Server Mystery: Dead Reports Don’t Talk”. He sent the script several days ahead of time but I was more nervous about this than my technical session. I feel I do well with conversations. I feel I do well in a rehearsed technical setting. Anything off the cuff, in front of an audience, yeah not so much. That and I hated the thought of me impacting his Summit session if I messed up. I survived but definitely could have done a better job. Sorry Doug!
6. Kasper knowing who I was and said looked through my session slides! – I still get star struck at PASS Summit. I was introduced to Kasper and he had a question about one of MY slides! I am still giddy about that!
5. Tim Chapman is a helluva guy! – Knowing I was new to Microsoft, Tim (Twitter ) reached out and pointed me to great resources to help navigate the oodles of tools and info within Microsoft. Not only that but he introduced me to some great folks at Summit. Thank you much Tim! Very much appreciate it!
4. Speaker Idol – I was asked by Denny Cherry (Twitter | Blog) if I would be a judge in this year’s Speaker Idol. For those unfamiliar, it is a contest for speakers to win a speaking slot at the next year’s Summit. I said yes and was very glad to be a part of it and honored to be in the line up of judges (Mark Simms (Twitter), Andre Kamman (Twitter | Blog), Allan Hirt (Twitter | Blog), Joey D’Antoni(Twitter | Blog), and Karen Lopez (Twitter | Blog)). All of the speakers were great! Due to that, it came down to getting way nit picky on the tiniest of details of the sessions. I felt little uncomfortable doing that since many of the speakers I consider friends. Still was a great process to be a part of and I picked up some tips for myself as a speaker. The winner was David Maxwell (Twitter | Blog) . Congrats David!
3. Marco Russo / Alberto Ferrari in my session – My session was over SSAS Tabular performance. I reference Marco Russo (Twitter | Blog) and Alberto Ferrari (Twitter | Blog) many times during it. During practice run throughs of my session, it dawned on me that this was the only time I would give the session and they could show up. Guess what?! They came to MY session!! That still cracks me up a bit and was great to meet them in person.
2. Seeing all my #SQLFamily all week – One of the best parts of Summit is that you can’t throw a rock all week and not hit a member of #SQLFamily. Over the years I have met so many wonderful SQL people from all over the world. Summit is the one time of year when the majority of those folks are together. Makes me feel all SQL warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.
Stephanie Bruno moment – I help babies in Africa! – I went to dinner with a group on Thursday evening at Tap House. I met Stephanie Bruno (Twitter) a couple years ago when she attended my spatial data session. We became friends that year and kept up some after that Summit. She works for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (www.pedaids.org). She was at that dinner and began talking about how I helped her with some Datazen work she was doing. And by this act of me getting information to her, I was also in a way helping babies in Africa! I get teary eyed again just thinking about it. I mean we speak and hope some bit of info we relay helps folks do their jobs or helps them with an issue they run into but that’s usually the end of the thought. It really hit me in the gut to be able to draw a line to a concrete example of something I did, doing some real good in the world! One session, one connection did that! It’s really amazing to think about and helps push more passion into my speaking in the community, my push to drive new speakers, and my push to get folks to become part of this amazing community!
Life is funny you know. So many times you are moving right along and fate throws you new paths you weren’t expecting. I recently had a very surprising phone call. It was from a friend and colleague at Microsoft who was hoping to move to a new role. He said he wanted to give me a heads up as he had recommended me as a good candidate to replace his potentially vacant spot and I would start getting phone calls. I was very glad he did as I was stunned and sounded like a mumbling idiot while the information processed. Microsoft!? Moi?! I was very happy at BlueGranite and wasn’t looking at all. But everyone has that short list of companies where if they call, you at least pick up the phone.
Fast forward a few weeks and I have just accepted a TSP position with Microsoft! I’m giddy with excitement for this opportunity! And there the tears well up again, but I’m so sad to be leaving BlueGranite! This company is an amazing group of people who are astounding in the BI/Data Analytics field. I have joked in the past that there may have been some deals with the devil within upper management to have acquired the talent that they have. And they took a chance hiring this DBA with less than stellar track record in BI, but wanted to learn. Part of the reason too that I went to work for BlueGranite was I had many friends who work for them. That is what makes leaving so hard…I’m going to miss working with these folks so much! I am very proud to have been able to call myself a part of this team. Thank you for everything BlueGranite!
The other painful piece of this is that if I’m renewed for MVP in a few days, it won’t last very long. Being an MVP has been such a surreal experience! It’s still unreal I was able to be a part of this group of crazy smart, crazy passionate, and crazy generous people. Being an MVP is, was, and will always be a great source of pride in my career.
And dear yoga pants, I will miss spending most of my time with you. We’ll still be together, just not as often.
On the flight home now from the SQLSaturday in Denver. I was excited for this one! I had never been to Denver before, through it but never to it. That and there’s some wonderful #SQLFamily out there. I lucked out though, I had this SQLSaturday on my radar but didn’t know for sure when the cutoff for submissions was to end. I just happened to catch it and submit on the final day of submissions. Not sure if there were any tweet reminders for that but I didn’t catch any. Anyway I got accepted to speak and do the new tabular session (yay more practice for Summit!).
I am not a hardcore road warrior like some, but I travel a decent bit. I don’t know if I have ever got a direct flight anywhere. I found one to Denver from Indy and was a good deal but it was with Frontier. Flight was at 6:00am but for direct I was willing to sacrifice. I have never flown on Frontier before and holy cow! They charge $30 for carry on luggage! Other various odd weird charges too. Just a little warning if you haven’t flown with them, check the crazy fees first. So I get to Denver very early and catch up with my co-worker Meagan Longoria (Twitter | blog) who was speaking too. Working for a remote company, it’s a nice treat to be able to work with folks in person for a change.
After work we head to the speaker dinner at Citron Bistro. The restaurant was nice and was graciously sponsored by Carlos Bossy (Twitter | blog) from Quanta Intelligence. The food was PHENOMENAL! It moved in to my top spot of speaker dinners. They had sit down menu with great choices and I went with lamb shanks. Holy moly! So good! Well done there organizers! Thank you Carlos! Very much appreciated that meal! And to top that off we got possibly my favorite speaker jacket ever as well.
My session on Saturday was in the next to last slot so I had intended to sleep in having such an early flight. So of course my eyes pop open at 5:15AM. Not having any excuses I get a workout in and some review on my slides/demos. Then head to the venue. It was an interesting site. I thought we were lost when we pulled into the parking lot. It was in a typical strip mall. After going inside was able to see it was very much a conference space and pretty nice. It was a bit tight in the through ways but worked out well. There wasn’t a speaker room but we found some space to congregate and worked it out.
Wish I could have attended more of the morning sessions but I’m always distracted by my own prep. I did sit in on some of Mike Fal’s (Twitter | blog) session as it was in my room prior to mine. He’s got a great speaking style and a definite enthusiasm for PowerShell.
So I get setup and start my session. I had a terrible issue with the projector. It would flash from time to time during my session. It also caused my slides to sometimes become about 3 inches wide. I have had issues with projectors in the past but this was a new one for me. Other than that it went well and demos worked for the most part. I only got 3 (of 17 attendees) to turn in feedback sheets which was a bit of a bummer but that’s the breaks.
After my session I sit in on David Klee’s (Twitter | blog) session. Man oh man it was a fantastic session! If you ever have a chance to see him speak, DO IT! His knowledge on virtualization is astounding. Coming from the SQL side of things, so much I never knew from the virtualization side. Really glad to see that session and learned so much! And he’s great speaker and just about the most likeable guy ever. Great job David!
After that wrapped up the day with a lot of great prizes. Then they had a little after party in the same venue which was different but nice. They had drinks and appetizers. After that we went to a place called Tavern Lowry which was good. We were able to get a large table in an area on the patio on a gorgeous night. The poor waitress that had to deal with all of us! Restaurant had a nice beer selection. By the way Denver, I think Titan IPA was my favorite that I tried while out there.
After that we went to “Family Karaoke”. I was a little nervous when we pulled up as it had all blacked out windows and didn’t look, well like a place that should have “family” in the name. Going in, it was fine. It was a Korean karaoke place that had private rooms. We got one of the larger rooms. It was like few years ago in Indy, they have all these super odd Korean videos that play while you sing. Hilariously bizarre! And I even kinda/sorta sang, well just the chorus while Keith Tate (Twitter | blog) did Tupac on “Changes”.
Thanks so much organizers for having me out and doing a really great job on your event! I had a great time seeing old friends and making new ones. I hope I can work it out to come back some time!
Home now from SQLSaturday Louisville and wanted to get a blog post going while those SQLfamily good vibes are still fresh. It’s kind of a sad fact but this is the first time I have ever been to a SQLSaturday in Louisville. Being that I only live 2 hours away, it’s a bit tragic! It seemed like every year I had a commitment or it was held on my kids birthdays. Poor Mala (Twitter | blog) was probably thinking I would never make it but low and behold, it worked out this year!
So I head down around lunch on Friday to get to the speaker dinner. The ride down was fine except I still swear the Google navigation lady hates me. She took me through the boonies to get to 65 for some reason. After finally getting there via the scenic route, I hadn’t given this session for a bit so spent some time telling the hotel walls about spatial data. After that I head over to the speaker dinner with David (Twitter|blog) and Wendy (Twitter|blog). The speaker dinner was at Boombozz pizza. The food was excellent! The room was a bit small but it worked out fine. They gave us these too (pic above) for speaker gifts! Love when can incorporate some hometown flair into speaker gifts. Wish Indy had more than race cars to work with on that note.
The day of the event I had hoped to sleep in but eyes bolt open at 6:00am (I’m old). Head over early and get situated at the event. The venue was walking distance from the hotels which was very nice (jealous of that). It was held at an Indiana Wesleyan as well (Indy was too). It was a nice facility and the layout was good. I normally can’t concentrate in sessions prior to mine so I just prepped and chatted it up the morning. My session was right after lunch which is nice for the extra setup time. Lunch by the way was excellent! They had barbecue that was really good. I heard there was a bit of a line but I snuck in early with the sponsors so I only heard of the lines.
My session went pretty well. I had a good bit of time to chat before the session started so got to yuck it up with some of the folks. I don’t know if anyone could tell but I felt the nerves a bit in the beginning. I realized while down there I hadn’t done a SQLSaturday since Cleveland! In February! Kind of shocking! The nerves worked their way out after I got going so that was good.
After my presentation I stayed in the same room to catch Rob Verell’s (Twitter) session on replication. I hadn’t seen him speak yet and knowing how funny he is, had to go see one of his sessions. Very much enjoyed it! I always enjoy sessions that have humor with tech content. You have to be careful to balance it though and he did that.
Next up I went to see Daniel Glenn’s (Twitter|blog) session on SharePoint. He had jokingly pouted that he wouldn’t have much of a crowd because of the topic. SharePoint and DBAs do not exactly have lovey dovey vibes. So I agreed to go to his session, even though I planned to anyway as I hadn’t seen him speak either. He is an excellent speaker and did a great job. Was nice to see some of the stuff that drives DBAs nuts (like GUIDs in db names) can be avoided if the SharePoint person knows what they are doing.
Then it was prize raffle time. Louisville had a tweet wall in the location where the raffle was held. This was a big hit and all the speakers took advantage of being goofy on Twitter and the wall during the raffle. They also had someone speak who teaches tech to high school students. I have always thought it would be great to expose high school students to data careers via SQLSaturdays but I haven’t had any luck making any contacts in my area yet.
After the raffle folks congregate to head out to dinner at the hotel out on the patio. David Maxwell always has a guitar and plays for us while we relax a bit.
After that John Morehouse (Twitter|blog) leads us to potentially my favorite place for an afterparty, Ann Marie’s Bacon Bar. I mean there may not have ever been a place that contained all the components SQLfamily enjoy: local non-chain place, bacon, great food, nice beer selection AND karaoke! All these things in ONE PLACE! We all had a blast!
Had a really great time in Louisville! Thanks volunteers…you all really knocked it out of the park! Really a top notch event and glad the planets finally aligned for me to come down. Thanks so much for having me down to speak! Definitely one I will add to the “must do” list!