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!


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?


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!


Here is hoping for a great 2015!

Jen’s Diary: Figuring it out – Virtual Chapter Pathways

Ok. Here goes.

Disclaimer: I don’t speak on behalf of PASS, only the Exec Committee can do that.

I want to thank everyone, just from myself, for all their patience and support for the past week. You know who you all are, and I wanted to say thank you to folks, too many to list here, who have helped me personally.

Here’s one way I’m giving back: a webinar series where you can drop by and ask questions. The focus will be on Virtual Chapters. We have an agenda to go through, but I’m happy to take questions on other things as well. I’m no Oracle (pun intended, sorry!) and I don’t speak on behalf of PASS. I’m accessible at these webinars (link to register below), and also during PASS Summit, to serve the community where possible.

Virtual Chapter Leaders Pathway

On 9th September, I wrote to all of the VC leaders to announce a ‘Virtual Chapter Leaders Pathway’, which would involve separate training sessions, held by myself. The email was below.
In the meantime, I have been collating feedback and it has also been fairly busy recently as many of you are aware.

Regarding the Virtual Chapters, we rely on GoToWebinar, the PASS websites and YouTube to deliver our Virtual Chapter sessions to the community worldwide.

I had identified that people needed help with these technologies, hence I am devising the Virtual Chapter Pathway. There was a slight delay from 9th September because I have collated feedback, and I need to priories which queries and issues to tackle and in which order.

This isn’t a small task to arrange all of this training, and deliver it myself – however I believed it was the right thing to do, and I was happy to devote my time to it, and invest my effort to do it well.

Note that I will be building on existing PASS HQ materials to do this. I’d like to thank and recognise their efforts in helping the community. Each and every one of them have been outstanding. You can find their resources page here, if you are a PASS VC or CL.

 You can see from the email below that I also offered to work with people in-person. Remember I will have travelled thousands of miles to attend Summit, and I’m spending time helping VC leads at the CZ during PASS Summit rather than socialising, or simply wandering around in Seattle in the US as a tourist or a visitor to the United States. People have taken up the offer of help and I am really glad to deliver it, because my primary reason for being there is to help you guys in the community, and I work hard at it.

If there are any VC issues, I am happy to hear about them but I can’t do anything about it until you tell me, so please feel free to get in touch. My email is It’s what I’m here for, so please don’t hesitate to ask questions or just drop by to the session. I need to work out the schedule, and I will post that up in due course.

Here is a note of the plan to date.

Note that these sessions are open to anybody, not just PASS Virtual Chapter leaders and co-leaders. I am happy to bring people along the journey as well.

We will have four sessions – subject to change, depending on user feedback.

Please click on the link to register.

Virtual Chapter Padawan – GoToWebinar

Virtual Chapter Jedi – GoToWebinar

Virtual Chapter Pathway – Managing Your Chapter website

Virtual Chapter Pathway – Soft Skills for VC Leadership

Other actions:

I understand that some of the VCs sometimes have problems in getting speakers. To help here, I’m going to try and get an MVP or a Microsoft ‘go-to’ contact for each VC to see if we can get people from Microsoft speaking for the Virtual Chapters.

I understand that VCs grow and you need more volunteers. If this is the case, please let me know. I have a ‘waiting list’ of people who want to be VC leads and co-leads, and I might be able to get you some help.

The sessions will go up on YouTube at a later date.

The email to the VC leads went out on 9th Sept, and the text follows here:

Hello Virtual Chapter leaders and co-leaders,
I can see everyone’s enthusiasm and pride in the Virtual Chapter program that you provide to the SQL Server community, and I wanted to say ‘thank you’ from me for all that you do. I love looking at the PASS website and seeing all of the sessions on the front page, and every time I do, I’m grateful and awed for all that you do for the ‘sqlfamily’.
To help everyone, I’m going to put a ‘VC Leadership Training Pathway’ in place to help people out. I am going to try to address your issues and queries in a live webinar series, which you’ll be invited to, and I will also record for sharing and future reference. I’d also like to share ideas on promoting your VC through social media such as Facebook pages, YouTube and so on.
So, if you have niggles about GTW, or the website, then please let me know and I will try to make sure that they are covered. I’d also like to share ideas on promoting your VC through social media such as Facebook pages, YouTube and so on.​

To help me to help you, could you please let me have any ‘pain points’, issues or queries that you have with GoToWebinar, the websites and so on? I will compile a list, and we will try and go through them.
I will also arrange some time for going through any issues individually at the Community Zone at PASS Summit. I will also be there at defined times so I can help you out in-person.

The Accidental Business Intelligence Project Manager

My slide deck from my ‘Accidental Project Manager’ PASS BI VC Chapter are below.

I want to apologise that you couldn’t see the slide deck. I have no idea why that was. GoToWebinar was showing that I was ‘on air’ and only gave me the option to ‘stop showing screen’. I am bewildered and very apologetic.
I also want to say thank you to Julie Koesmarno, who bravely called me up to say that I had a screen problem. Thank you Julie! Incidentally I was very glad that Julie won Outstanding PASS Volunteer I am sure you’ll agree with me that she deserves it.
Also a big Thank You to everyone who attended. Despite the technical difficulties seeing the screen, not one person dropped off. 
As an aside, I am working on a template Project Plan, created in Microsoft Project, that i am looking to share with the PASS community. Would this be helpful to you? If so, please let me know in the comments box and I will make sure that you get a copy. It’s a template that I use myself at Copper Blue Consulting and whilst it is not ‘one size fits all’ for every project, it will give you a bit of a start.
Thanks again!

Data Visualisation with Hadoop, Hive, Power BI and Excel 2013 – Slides from SQLPass Summit and SQLSaturday Bulgaria

I presented this session at SQLPass Summit 2013 and at SQLSaturday Bulgaria.

The topic focuses on some data visualisation theory, an overview of Big Data and finalises the Microsoft distribution of Hadoop. I will try to record the demo as part of a PASS Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter online webinar at some point, so please watch this space.

I hope you enjoy and I look forward to your feedback.

The ‘Accidental Business Intelligence Project Manager’ webinar details

The ‘Accidental Business Intelligence Project Manager’ by me!
  • You’ve watched the Apprentice with Donald Trump and Lord Alan Sugar. You know that the Project Manager is usually the one gets fired. 
  • You’ve heard that Business Intelligence projects are prone to failure. 
  • You know that a quick Bing search for ‘why do Business Intelligence projects fail?’ produces a search result of 25 million hits! 
  • Despite all this… you’re now Business Intelligence Project Manager – now what do you do? 
In this session, I will provide a ‘sparks from the anvil’ series of steps and working practices in Business Intelligence Project Management using experiences from delivering SQL Server technology based Business Intelligence solutions. 
What about waterfall vs agile? What is a Gantt chart anyway? Is Microsoft Project your friend or a problematic aspect of being a BI PM?
I will give you some ideas and insights that will help you set your BI project right: assess priorities, avoid conflict, empower the BI team and generally deliver the Business Intelligence project successfully!

The Journey is the Reward: Speaking for SQLPass, where do you start?

I’m heartened by the numbers of people who are expressing an interest in speaking at events. In particular, I understand that SQLPass had record numbers of people submitting to SQLPass Summit in Charlotte this year. For me, this is especially important because it suggest that more people are interested in speaking and sharing their SQL Server knowledge. It also shows that the community are supportive of a SQLPass Summit event in Charlotte. This energy shows the strength of the event itself, rather than being tied to a particular location i.e. Seattle. As much as I love Seattle, I have never been to Charlotte and I’m excited to be visiting a new part of the United States. In case you are wondering, I am Scottish 🙂

I am not part of the session selection process for SQLPass so this blog is based on my insights from the community only.  How do you get experience so that you can speak for events, perhaps with the goal of speaking at the SQLPass Summit event, which is the pinnacle of every SQL Server guru’s career?

It can seem to be a vicious cycle: you can’t speak because you don’t have experience, and you don’t get experience because you don’t speak.

This isn’t true!

There are plenty of opportunities to speak and here are some:

Come and join me and give a webinar for the Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter. This is a great way to start and you will have the full support of myself and Julie Koesmarno, who helps with the Chapter as I do. We can help you to get started. The sessions last for about one hour, and we do 45 minutes talk, and then 15 minutes of questions.  Why not give it a go?

Your local PASS Chapter – come and attend your local user Group, and see how you can get involved. Take a look at the PASS site for some thoughts

Your workplace – why  not try a ‘brown bag lunch’ session, whereby you and your team all take turns to present on something? It is a safe environment to learn, and you might even enjoy it!

If you didn’t get a slot at SQLPass Summit this time – don’t be disheartened. There is a Chinese proverb: The journey is the reward. Keep going, and who knows what will happen? You’ll learn, and make friends as you go along. Submit again next year with more experience under your belt, and more knowledge of your subject. Good luck!

A special note for UG leaders – make sure and support your new speakers. Mentor and encourage them. That person might be the next Brent Ozar or Kalen Delaney, so give them the opportunity to grow. We are all part of a community and we can help one another!

Good luck everyone! Please email me at if you’d like to give a webinar. I’d love to schedule you in, and help you get started!

Jen x