PASS in Africa discussion

This is a repost from the SQLPass Discussion Board

A blog post has asked a series of questions on PASS by Mark Stacey, who is based in Africa and has previously spoken at PASS. I won’t repeat his blog post here but you can read it here:…ass-board/ The other candidates have commented on the blog, but in order to give the issue a wide readership, I have set up this Discussion Board question. 

Previous to this blog post, I wrote a blog asking a similar question…tions.html and…n-top.html 

I’ve tried to distil Mark’s post to a few points, which I’ve put below. 

Point 1: Africa has been totally short-changed on events (see Mark’s post for more detail) 

I’ve blogged here and commented in other places that I’d like to see a SQLRally Africa, particularly with a BA track. 
I have taken a broader approach and wondered if this could be a two-way process. Instead of criticising people’s ideas that won’t work, let’s talk about things that might work. I’m a firm belliever that good ideas can be wrought from ideas that initially seemed to be poor, once you’ve discussed them with people. Suggestions are valuable. 

If online events do not help, what about eBooks? Would this help the community in Africa? Considering online is an issue, are there other practical ways that help could be given? For example, would be good to have USBs with material sent out to the UG groups with material on it, for example? I sometimes take collateral from Microsoft, sponsors and PASS to hand out to my UGs and nobody has ever objected, not once. People like Mark Stacey have spoken at SQLPass Summit so perhaps a process could be put in place so that they are given a box of educational collateral to take back. This would be a matter of two things: putting a process in place and the availability of resources. This would assume, of course, that people wouldn’t mind taking items back with them. THis is just an example and I am sure that the community can think of other examples. 

It seems that if we get our thinking brains on, we can make things happen. We’re smart people and we should be able to do this. 

Point 2: More data about what PASS is doing (see Mark’s post for more detail) 

I need to hold fire on this. There are usually issues with opening data up to the community. I’ve been through this before with other technical communities, and there are all sorts of issues around PII for example. 
I think we need to ‘baseline’ across the globe in order to measure global growth, trajectory of growth and so on. 

Point 3: More transparency and fairness (see Mark’s post for more detail) 

I don’t believe that Mark is alone in becoming confused by the Regional Mentor role. It is something that I have been confused about in the past, and I believe that the role’s defined boundaries need to be clarified. It’s easy to think “Well, the Regional Mentor should be doing X, Y, Z” but it may not be part of their role. For example, they do not have to attend SQLSaturday events in their region although many of them do. Personally I think that the Regional aspect is an important part of the role, and I’d like to see the role clarified to the community as a whole. 

Point 4: Closer alignment with other communities (see Mark’s post for more detail) 

The SQLPass Mission Statement clearly refers to ‘data professional’. Not ‘SQL Server’ professional. This is a move from being ‘technology’ specific to being domain specific. 
SQL Server has broadened to include deeply business-oriented people who use data, as well as including the deeply-technical folks. 
I see it as consistent with looking after ‘data’ professionals that there is a cross-pollination of skills in different areas. Some are BI ‘generalists’ who do end-to-end solutions, rather than focus on one area. 

Let’s take SQLSaturday Cambridge as an example. Mark Broadbent took the brave decision to include a SharePoint precon, and included SharePoint speakers, sponsors and community members amongst the SQLSaturday event. I attended, spoke and sponsored SQLSaturday Cambridge and saw the event from different perspectives, and I have to say that Mark and the team did a stellar job on every front. The additional point was that the event also held a strong community streak by visibly supporting a charity this year. Personally I love this aspect, and I hope to see it at other events.

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