What I hope to achieve by being a PASS Board of Director member

I’m delighted to be in the final 7 for the slate for the PASS Board of Elections.  Watch out for your ballot email tomorrow, the 25th September. Information about all of the candidates can be found here and I can assure you that they are all immense. I hope for a strong, good and fair election process and, whatever the result, I am sure that PASS will be even stronger. The best thing about the SQLFamily is that I am sure we will all be friends during the election, and afterwards. That is what’s so amazing about being part of the PASS Family – we are a team.

What qualifications and PASS volunteer experience do I bring to the role?

I am a database strategist, small business owner, SQLFamily and community advocate, public speaker and blogger. I’m passionate about all things data and business intelligence, helping leaders derive value from their Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint and Office365 investments.
Since 1997, I’ve worked in Artificial Intelligence and Business Intelligence consultancy, architecting, delivering and supporting complex enterprise solutions for customers all over the world. I am particularly enthusiastic about focusing on the use of data and obtaining value from it, whilst also ensuring that the integrity of the data is maintained. I am often the ‘voice’ of the business users of the organisation, and helps to drive strategy by ensuring that all voices are heard as part of the enterprise solution.
Jen currently serves the SQL Server community in a variety of ways:
  • I am a Microsoft SQL Server ‘Most Valuable Professional‘ and has been awarded three years running. I am one of only a handful of MVPs in SQL Server in the UK.
  • I was fortunate to win the SQLPass PASSion Award at Summit 2012, and is very happy to have been recognised although I did not do the work for the recognition, believing that being an active part of the SQLFamily is reward itself.
  • I run HUGGS, a PASS Chapter and a SQL Server User Group in Hertfordshire
  • I organised the first SQLSaturday in Scotland, held in Edinburgh. I’m also in negotiations to hold another one, so watch this space!
  • I help organise Women in Technology events for SQLPass in Europe, and Diversity in Technology events at SQLBits.
  • I am a key organiser of SQLRelay in the UK, hosting my own event in Hertfordshire as well as helping the team with Sponsorship.
  • I am an active blogger, who writes at http://www.jenstirrup.com. Hence you are here! I am also a well-known social media influencer, who has been named twice as one of the top 100 ‘Big Data’ influencers by peer-rated systems.
  • I am a well-known presenter in the UK, Europe and the United States. I’ve has presented at TechEd North AmericaTechEd EuropeSQLPass and SQLBIts, along with SQLSaturday events throughout Europe.
  • I am currently writing a book on data visualisation, and has participated in other book efforts such as being a key Technical Reviewer for MVP Deep Dives Volume 2 along with other works for a UK based publisher.
To summarise, I am extremely involved in the SQL Server community, and believe that I would make an effective contribution by becoming a part of the Board of Directors.
How does I see PASS goals and what would my focus be?
I would love to introduce a PASS Charter that clearly specifies PASS Goals and objectives, which UGs and other affiliated bodies set up. This would clearly specify that exclusion is not a part of the PASS community; so, for example, User Groups or SQLSaturday would not be allowed to exclude certain groups of people from presenting. This is not the same as positive discrimination, where we promote certain groups such as women presenters. Instead, this is a way of emphasising to the community that certain groups of people are not automatically excluded from presenting, and that everyone has a fair chance regardless of their background, sex, or ethnicity.
Broadly speaking, I see the PASS Goals in the long-term as:
Goal 1: Form a more cohesive group for the BA community
This goal would benefit the PASS community by helping to formulate, support and grow the BA community in its early, formative stages when it needs particular direction. PASS can be the enabler of this community, which traditionally has been difficult to reach.
Goal 2: Form a platform for people to understand cloud and Big Data technologies better
SQL Server is diversifying into cloud and ‘Big Data’ technologies, and this necessarily involves a huge shift in the required skill set for SQL Server professionals who embrace the change. PASS are well-placed to support the community of traditional on-premise SQL Server specialists who need to extend or transition their knowledge to cloud technologies. Further, as PASS have the opportunities to reach out globally to new cloud and Big Data technologists who interact with SQL Server but for whom, SQL Server may not be their core skill – the ‘Accidental DBA’
Goal 3: Support the PASS community globally via embracing diversity
PASS can continue the efforts that have taken place in Europe, which have focused on reaching out to minority groups in technology, mainly Women in Technology.
What strategic decision-making have I been involved with, to date?
In her role as joint owner of a small consultancy, I am directly responsible for the strategy and decision-making of the organisation, and executing on the basis of the agreed strategy.
I am also a believer in getting people on board, and feeling that they have ownership of their activities and that they are actively contributing.  Part of this is the old adage of ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’.
I also believe that the hard decisions are the worthwhile decisions, in the long run. This may involve the brave step of ‘fail fast’ – in other words, if something is clearly not working, it is important to conserve resources for the way forward.

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