Jen’s Diary: A belated Review of my first year on the Board

Disclaimer: I am not officially talking for PASS here. These are my own opinions.

I’m a year into my tenure on the Board of Directors for PASS. What have I done, and what have I learned?

The Skinny:

  • Set up new VCs
  • Supported other VCs with speakers, Microsoft ‘go to’ contacts, I created a Pathway for people who needed help with their VCs
  • Helped to run two VCs as a VC Leader or Co-Leader – Business Intelligence, Excel BI, and Data Science
  • I helped with two User Groups, and run a third as the leader
  • I ran two SQLSaturdays and planned a third for this year
  • I spoke at a ton of events all over Europe and the US: Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Portugal, France, Budapest (Hungary), Darmstadt (Germany), Vienna. I also spoke at User Groups around the UK, SQLSaturday Exeter, SQLSaturday Edinburgh, SQLBits.
  • I also delivered a lot of VC sessions, and you can see those over at the PASS Business Intelligence YouTube channel.
  • I helped with the PASS Business Analytics Conference, eventually inheriting the Portfolio from the awesome Denise McInerny. I’m now in the driving seat, and I love this challenge!

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The Full Fat version!

Virtual Chapters – I drove through opening up some new VCs in:

Data Science, which is getting a logo as we speak! I’m second in command to Mark Tabladillo for this one.

Excel BI which I now run

High Availability and Disaster Recovery – see, I’m not just all about the BAs. All about the BAs… get it? No? ok.

In-Memory VC which is run by Niko Neugebauer and Ami Levin

I also rebooted some VCs, so:

Azure VC was rebranded as Cloud

Oracle VC was eagerly adopted by Mark Broadbent

Professional Development was rebooted and led by Neil Hambly and Matan Yungtan

I also supported Global Growth by helping the following VCs get up and running:

Global French – this is a real gift of a VC and if you speak French, it is well worth a look. It isn’t just covering France: it covers Canada too, and French speaking Africa. They are a great team and deserve to be congratulated!

Global Chinese – these guys are taking off and they are doing brilliantly.

Global Spanish – I wish I knew what the Spanish word for ‘awesome’ is. These guys are awesome! They deliver VC sessions on a weekly basis. That’s right – weekly. They are so community spirited and they share their expertise.

I’ve helped the other VCs with things like getting speakers. I’ve managed to get some of them a ‘go to’ contact in Microsoft, so that they have someone to speak to, in order to get expert help, Microsoft speakers and so on. That program is still ongoing.

I identified that VC leaders sometimes need help with learning to use GoToWebinar and so on. I produced a pathway series that was aimed at helping people with tips and tricks. It was well attended and I hope it helped people. Here is the first segment of the Pathway here.

What else did I do?

I delivered SQLSaturday Edinburgh and SQLSaturday London Business Analytics edition. It’s unusual for someone to organize two SQLSats in the same year, but hey,it was fun! Each event combined hundreds of attendees in total, and I helped to provide a lot of training hours to a lot of people.

I also kicked off SQLSaturday Edinburgh 2015, which is a work in progress. I’m pleased that I have quit a few registrations already and I haven’t really done any advertising yet. It’s in June so there is plenty of time.

I also run the Hertfordshire SQL Server user Group, I help support Neil Hambly (President) as second-in-command for the London user Group, and I help run Hampshire SQL Server user Group whilst the current owner is on maternity leave.

And I’ve been spending a massive amount of time on the PASS Business Analytics Conference. Wow, this has been a lot of work but I think that the emerging data professional community will love what we are doing. It’s a real break from PASS Summit and from previous editions of the PASS BA Conference. Look at our announced speakers so far and I have got serious Imposter Syndrome when I speak to them. They are simply amazing, knowledgeable, accessible and authoritative, and expert at what they do. The great thing about helping to lead a conference is that I get to help choose, as part of a team, whom I’d like to see speak, so I (very selfishly) contacted the best people I came across as experts in analytics, whether it was through in-person events, conferences, thought leaders on Twitter, influencers on LinkedIn and so on. And we are lucky they are coming along! here are a few examples:

Chandoo – making you awesome at Excel

Dean Abbot – Data Mining and Predictive Analytics Expert

Jordan Goldmeier – Excel guru and decision maker thought leader. Data Visualisation expert, Excel MVP

James Taylor – CEO of Decision Management Solution, an authority on Decision Management and the effective use of business rules and predictive analytics

James Kobielus – Big Data Evangelist at IBM.

Rob Collie and Avi Singh of PowerPivotPro – yes, these two are a great team!

There are a whole ton of great speakers being announced, so why don’t you head over and take a look?

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To summarise, I’ve worked hard and I hope people can see the value in what I do. I know I haven’t attained perfection – which I am humble enough to admit.

Thank you for the friends who have stayed with me on this journey.

Thank you to the PASS Board membes who serve alongside me. They continue to inspire me, and overwhelm me sometimes with just how smart they are.

Thank you to Judy and the rest of the PASS team at PASS HQ. They are all individually amazing, and together they are an fantastic team. I rely on their insights and wisdom. And here they are!

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Here is hoping for a great 2015!

Microsoft is coming to Hemel Hempstead for a free of SQL Server, Windows Server and System Center training!

SQLRelay and Cloud OS Relay are joining forces at Hemel Hempstead for a great, free day of training! This will be held on 15th November at Shendish Manor, which is in Hemel Hempstead.

As featured on TechNet, we will be having a SQL Server track and a separate Infrastructure track, which is dedicated to Infrastructure specialists. If you are a Windows Server 2012 or a Systems Centre 2012 technical person, then this Infrastructure-track is focused at you.

Click on the link to register for the SQL Server track, or click here if you’re interested in the Windows Server R2 and Systems Center R2 Training.

For the SQL Server 2012 track, the Agenda is here:

09:00 09:30 Registration
09:30 10:00 Microsoft Keynote and Q&A
10:00 10:50 Scott Kline – Microsoft SQL Server In-Memory OLTP Deep Dive
10:50 11:10 Break 
11:10 12:00 Chris Harris (Hortonworks) – Hadoop as an Enterprise Data Platform
12:00 12:50 Allan Mitchell – Making the most of your Azure data with Pig and Hive
12:50 13:30 A free lunch will be provided for you
13:30 14:25 Denny Cherry – Table Indexing for the .NET developer
14:25 15:20 Tony Rogerson – SQL Server 2014 Hekaton Deep Dive
15:20 15:40 Break
15:40 16:35 Jen Stirrup – From Data Source to Secret Sauce – Powering and Visualising your Data with Power BI

If you’d like to register for this, please click here.
See you there!
Kind Regards,
Jen

Women in Technology: Children at Technical Conferences

I read a post with the same title by Tim Radney, which I loved. In his post, which I suggest you read, he talks about taking his son to a technical conference. I thought I’d write a little bit about my experiences taking my son to a couple of User Groups in the UK. A few months ago, Mark Broadbent (SQL DBA guru and a great friend of mine) needed a speaker at the last minute for his Cambridgeshire PASS Chapter user group. I said I would do it, but I’d have to bring my eight year old because it would be too late to get a babysitter. Very fortunately, Mark agreed that I could bring my son.  At this point, I have to thank Mark for his patience with my son, who now calls him ‘his big friend Mark’. Mark introduced him to games on the mobile phone and didn’t mind that my son ate more food than anyone else! To introduce my son to everyone, I asked him to offer everyone a chocolate and then everyone settled to hear my Big Data session. My son and I went home happy.

I run HUGSS, a SQL Server user group in Hertfordshire. I’ve taken my son on the odd occasion, and he sits really nicely, reads quietly whilst the adults are talking, and eats as much as he gets his hands on. We are a very small group at the moment, and so far, nobody has minded too much. 

For those of you who haven’t worked it out already, I’m a single mother and have been for a good while now. I play mum and dad. For me, the hardest bit of being a parent is “teaching your child how to walk, and then teaching them how to walk away”. I didn’t set out to be a single mum and it wasn’t the life that I had planned for myself, but we are where we are. I do the best mum and dad combined roles that I can do. I love my job, I love the sqlfamily that I come across, and most of all, I am blessed, really blessed, to have a smart, wise, loving little boy in my life with a big generous heart and wonderful chuckle who opens my eyes and teaches me something new every day. He loves cuddles and TS Eliot poems about cats. He loves soldiers, Nerf, lego, iCarly, Hallowe’en, ice cream with sprinkles on top and loves being read limerick poems. I count myself lucky each and every day. I want more than anything to make his dreams come true and give him the brightest, best future that is in my power to do so.

So, in my role of mum and dad, I used to worry what people would think of me as a ‘single mum at a tech conference’ as an attendee, presenter or organiser. There tends to be less female attendees, and I wonder what percentage of those are in my demographic. I then wondered if perhaps other women worried as I did, that I would be odd-one-out. Then it struck me that perhaps, by sharing my story, that perhaps other women who share my life experiences might realise that actually, it isn’t an issue. People accept you for who you are. Community is community. I believe one hundred percent that there is no community as welcoming as the ‘sqlfamily’ and I have found my ‘home’ there. You already have a shared passion for tech and everybody is learning, and if I can do this, anybody can. 

Otherwise, I’ve never taken him to a larger conference and we are both not ready to do that. I think that it would be too much for him (he is only 8, after all!). I’m a mum before anything else, and I’d be fully involved looking after him than I would in doing community work or helping people with SQL Server or BI questions. When he is older and might benefit from the experience, such as doing computing science at secondary school, then I might be more inclined to take him so that he can be inspired by meeting some of the brightest minds in tech at sql server conferences, for example.

Normally I try to keep my family life separate from my professional and community life, but Tim’s blog celebrated family and technology, and inspired me to write a little so I’ve shared a few thoughts here. My experiences and opinions will be different from other people’s, but I had hoped that these thoughts might help someone somewhere.

Best,
Jen