Steampunk SQLBits tshirt follow up

Firstly I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who reads this blog. I was totally overwhelmed by the number of people who got in touch, from every part of the world.

I am really sorry but I simply could not buy everyone a tshirt. There were simply too many requests and I do feel bad about it. The design is below and if you fancy ordering and paying for your own, please visit and you can choose your own tshirt.

The link is below:
Purchase my design on!

and here is the picture:

I chose pink for women and olive for gentlemen. If I didn’t email you back to offer you a tshirt, I have missed your mail in amongst the traffic and I am sorry about that.
Enjoy! If you do order one, please send me a photo of yourself in it and I will post it up. I’d love to see it!

Interested in helping SQLBits to craft the first ever SQLBits Wikipedia page?

Exciting DitBits news from the SQLBits camp today. 

 We will be hosting a ‘Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon’ which will focus on gathering budding community authors, editors and reviewers together to create the first ever Wikipedia SQLBits page!

I’m looking for photos for the SQLBits photo album, which we will be posting online. Please send your photos, or links to photos, to me at and I promise not to laugh at your old photos if you don’t laugh at mine!

 We will see you in the Community Coffee Corner at 5.30 – 6.30 on Friday 18th July!



Why I refused a session at SQLBits; it’s not about your rank, but your legacy

In martial arts it is not your belt rank that matters but the legacy you leave.” – Grandmaster CK Leow, Founder, Moodukkwan Malaysia
I’ve attended every SQLBits except two: the first one, because I didn’t know about it, and SQLBits 6, because I had been made redundant the previous day and I didn’t feel up to it.
Overall, I have spoken at every SQLBits since SQLBits 7, where I was fortunate enough to be picked to speak at the event in York. Since then, I have spoken in most of Europe and in the United States. I also held a Diversity in Technology event at the last SQLBits, and I am considering doing another event.

I was also lucky enough – and hard working enough! – to be elected on the PASS Board of Directors last year, winning the election outright with a convincing majority. I continue to work really hard on that role, and I will blog separately about what I’ve been doing since a lot of it isn’t ‘visible’ and SQLfamily members probably don’t see it.
I’m fortunate to be holding a precon this year, which is called the DataAnalysts Toolkit. We will look at R and PowerBI for a whole day. What’s best is, I will be giving you hands on labs and notes – if you bring your laptop, that is! I will announce in due course what software you need to install.
I’m holding a Friday session, which is a one-hour version of the precon.
However, I turned down the opportunity to speak on the Saturday. Why?
– I have worked, really, really hard to be a speaker at SQLBits. I am extremely proud to have been chosen, so this was a difficult decision. 
– however, I believe in fairness and the promotion of new speakers. I think that other people should be lucky enough to get a session too. I was concerned that I would be greedy in taking two sessions. There are plenty of people who would like to speak at SQLBits, and I refused, saying that the slot should go to a new speaker who hasn’t done it before.
Sometimes you have to do the right thing for the community, even if it is a wrench for yourself. 
I was lucky to get votes and to be picked, but I do worry about the time when the votes stop and I don’t get picked any more. This is a perfectly natural response. I also don’t go around my friends and family and ask them to vote for me, because that isn’t fair. If I get picked, I want it to be picked on a fair community vote and not because I emailed everyone in my department and asked a boatload of people to vote for me. I’d like to thank everyone who did vote for my session.
At the same time, I think it isn’t about the rank you hold or the number of sessions you give; it is about the legacy you leave behind. So, when I sit in sessions and see people talking about Excel and trellis charts, for example, I remember that I talked about that at SQLBits a few years ago. I was the first to talk about these topics at SQLBits, and I am happy that I trailblazed and now other people are talking about data visualisation as part of other sessions. 

I’m not criticising others who have two sessions, and I am happy for them. My focus is slightly different, particularly since I hold an elected seat on the Board of Directors. I want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who voted for me, and I hope that this is a visible sign that I am working for the SQLFamily and the technical community.
At the same time, I think it is important to leave a legacy, even if people don’t see it. I don’t know whom they picked instead of me, but by making a sacrifice myself, it does mean that someone new can have the opportunity that I got. 

That said, I look forward to seeing people at my session and you can be assured that I will do my best, as always.

at SQLPass Summit and Interested in moving into management? Then you must attend Women in Tech Lunch

The Women in Technology lunch at SQLPass Summit has a complex topic this year: “Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity” 

Diversity isn’t just a ‘nice thing to do’ – studies show that it is a way forward for companies to perform better, and even increase the bottom line. Studies by psychologists such as Irving Janis, and social psychology experiements by luminaries such as Solomon Asch, show that diverse teams make better decisions. The complexity scientist Scott Page has looked at mathematical models.

There is the thinking in the Dilbert comic below:

Here, Dilbert is commenting whether these companies are well run because their Boards are diverse, or do well-run Boards decide to appoint diverse boards? It is a horse and cart question.

What does the data science say? Do organisations do this because it is a ‘nice’ thing to do? According to complexity specialist Scott Page, professor of complex systems, political science and economics at the University of Michigan, diversity:

  • produces organisational strength
  • leads to higher productivity
  • strongly linked to innovation 

Using mathematical models, he was able to link diversity to productivity and innovation.

Furthermore, research by McKinsey, an international management consultancy firm, has shown that diversity makes for better decision-making at all organisational levels, with companies with women in top management performing better operationally and financially compared to other companies in similar sectors. 

The McKinsey study also shows that diversity is especially important for problem solving and innovation, which are both extremely relevant for IT. Diverse teams find more innovative solutions, get stuck less often, and are able to find a solution faster because they have different perspectives within the team. In fact, diverse teams even outperform teams of experts, as experts are often trained to think in the same way. 

I used to think that companies sought me out, as a female technical blogger, strategist and implementor, because they were being ‘nice’ and wanted to tick a HR box somewhere. I now recognise that they wanted to hire me because, simply put: Diverse companies make are looking at innovative ways to make more money. The ‘nice’ bit is all very… nice…. but the bottom line is that they want diverse teams to increase their bottom line.

Some of the innovation policies at companies like Cisco, Toyota and Google recognise the link between diversity and innovation, showing an understanding that differences in the composition of their work forces boost their bottom lines.  Let’s take Cisco as an example, They are a keen supporter of the SQLPass Summit 2013 event, and you can visit them at their stand. They also have a Diversity portfolio, where they emphasise (quote from their website):

“When we talk about diversity at Cisco…it’s about inclusion – bringing together a diverse workforce with unique life experiences, cultures, talents and perspectives. We promote a creative, innovative, and collaborative environment that helps drive our business strategy.”

Communities have an influence on who we are, as an individual.  

Diverse settings aren’t always easy to navigate, however. In the Women in Technology session, we will be looking at dealing with situations where you see or experience social exclusion, and how to promote teamwork in a diverse settings. These are all hard management tasks, and the WiT lunch will discuss these difficult issues. If you are serious about a management career, these are things which you could end up tackling – so why not get sensitive to them now? If you are already a manager of people, then you will want to know how to get the best out of your team, and have a positive impact on them and on your organisation. The Women in Technology lunch is a great place to start learning, or be challenged about your ideas.

So, if you’re interested in moving from your DBA role in tech towards a management role, or you are already a manager, then you need to be aware of diversity and it’s importance in an organisation. To come back to our original question: companies are well run because their Boards are diverse, or do well-run Boards decide to appoint diverse boards? The data shows that the diversity leads to stronger teams, better problem solving, innovation, and understanding your customers better.

Diversity isn’t a pretty thing. It’s a real driver for businesses, and smart business recognise a good thing when they see it.

And that’s why you need to attend the Women in Technology lunch at SQLPass Summit 2013. You are here to learn and network, and the diversity discussion will help you to be prepared for diversity discussions when they occur in your workplace. 

Announcing DiTBits at SQLBits

We are pleased to announce our inaugural DiTBiTs Cheese and Wine event at SQLBits XI on Friday 3rd May at 5pm in Room 1. The DiTBits site is here, and this is a cross-post.

Our topic is as follows: Networking in IT. Can more diverse networks provide better networks?
Is business networking useful in our careers?
How much has networking helped you in your career?
How can you build good social media profiles – or are these even necessary?

Attendees can enjoy Cheese and Wine refreshments whilst during the Panel discussion and interaction. Then, we’ll have a Flashmob Speed Networking at the end, just to tie things together before everyone shoots off for the party – so bring your business cards!

We are pleased to welcome our following panellists:

Denise McInerney is joining us from the United States, so please be sure to give Denise a hearty SQLBits welcome! Denise McInerney is a DBA-turned-Data-Analyst. She lives in Silicon Valley where she is employed by the software company Intuit. Denise founded the PASS Women in Technology chapter and currently serves as a member of the PASS Board of Directors. She is a Microsoft MVP.

Mark Broadbent is well known within the UK and across the world as a dedicated PASS ‘Outstanding Volunteer’ award winner and UK Regional Mentor. He is a SQL Server specialist and speaker focusing on HADR & upgrade solutions and in 2011 was awarded Microsoft’s Community Contributor award and in 2012 received the PASS Outstanding Volunteer award. He is the proud host of the first UK SQLSaturday, and is hosting another SQLSaturday event in Cambridge later this year.

Stephanie Locke works primarily in the BI space as a Senior Analyst responsible for delivering high profile projects and educating & mentoring others.  She coordinates the local user group for SQL Server and tries to help grow the community.

The host for the inaugural DiTBits event is Jen Stirrup, a SQL Server MVP who best-known for her work in Business Intelligence and Data Visualisation. She is the current holder of the SQLPassion Award, presented by PASS at Summit 2012, for her work in helping the European SQL Server community. Jen has presented at TechEd North America, TechEd Europe, SQLPass and SQLBits and is the proud host of SQLSaturday Edinburgh.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with or feel free to browse around our site.
Who are DiTBIts? Take a look here.