Jen’s PASS Diary: SQLSaturday Edinburgh: My heartfelt thanks go to…

SQLSaturday Edinburgh went ahead last Saturday, June 13th, and everyone had a great day. It’s clear that people in the community believe in what I am doing. They voted with their feet to attend, to speak, and to sponsor. We had high quality speakers delivering world-class content – 8 MVPs, 2 Microsoft staff, and the remainder are international speakers – and we know that Content is King.

Basically, SQLSaturday Edinburgh Business Intelligence edition was the turning point for the Business Analytics and Business Intelligence ( SQL Server based ) community in the UK.

  • Our event only had five people who had spoken at SQLBits (Carmel Gunn, Bob Duffy, Gary Short, Chris Webb and Satya Jayanty).
  • three of our speakers (Mark Wilcock, Chris Webb and Bob Phillips) all spoke at PASS Business Analytics Conference last April in San Jose, and they all spoke at PASS SQLSaturday London Business Analytics in November 2014.
  • The other speakers have delivered sessions internationally in their field of expertise: Visio, SharePoint, CRM, and this was the first time they’d spoken at a SQL event.

We tried to be more BI and BA focused, and did it work? The feedback so far is a resounding YES. We didn’t try to squeeze the formula for other SQL events onto this one, jam some R in there, and announce it as an analytics event. The content was focused on what we do with data, why, and what the business value is.There will be more on this in future posts. In the meantime, however, I have a lot of thank yous!

I also want to say a heartfelt thank you to the volunteers, without whom, the event would not have happened.

  • Malcolm Smith
  • Izabela Borzecka
  • Robert French
  • Melissa Coates ( Twitter ) who helped by collating templates from her events to use.
  • Prathy Kamasani ( Twitter ) who is just simply amazing. Her smile lifts me and she has really helped to keep me going with her sunny attitude and unfailing support.
  • Rodney Kidd ( Twitter ) has been a rock and a great listener, as well as a helpful, kind gentleman.

Prathy, Rodney – I cannot thank you enough, and your friendship and support will stay with me forever. Thank you.

I want to thank the following sponsors for putting themselves forward to support me in what I’m doing for the Business Intelligence and emerging Business Analytics community in the UK. Without them, there would be no event. Fact.

SQLSaturday Edinburgh 388 Sponsors

I also want to thank our amazing SQLSaturday speakers. If you’d like to download their slides, you will find them on the site.

The speakers were, in order of appearance:

Jon Woodward ( Twitter / Website )

Iain Elder (Twitter)

David Parker ( Website )

Chris Webb ( Website / Twitter )

Ian MacDonald ( Website )

Adam Vero ( Website )

Bob Duffy ( Website / Twitter )

Carmel Gunn ( Website / Twitter )

Peyman Blumstengel ( Website )

Murali Nagaraj ( Website )

Peter Baddeley ( Website / Twitter )

Tom Sykes ( Twitter )

Niall MacLeod ( Website / Twitter )

Mark Wilcock ( Website / Twitter )

Bob Phillips ( Twitter )

Dave Lawrence ( Website / Twitter )

Tim Jones ( Website / Twitter )

Jean-Pierre Riehl ( Twitter / Website )

Gary Short ( Twitter / Website )

Satya Jayanty ( Twitter / Website )

Ric Howe ( Twitter / Website )

If I have missed anyone, it will be a genuine oversight due to a very tired little Jen missing things out!

I owe people emails so please forgive me until I catch my breath! Please bear with me. I’m doing my best.

Love always,

Jen Stirrup

Jen’s Pass Diary: Reflections and a plea for help for the ‘little guy’.

This blog does not represent PASS. Here, I discuss a few threads:

  • PASS HQ Meeting
  • A plea for help for SQLSaturday Edinburgh along with some SQLBits commentary
  • A plea for the little guy – my thoughts on Business Analytics and Business Intelligence
  • and a well wish to someone dear to me
  • PASS HQ Meeting

I have attended another Board meeting in Vancouver this week. It was split into two parts: a main Board meeting, and then separate ‘side sessions’ with key HQ team members.

What’s it like at PASS HQ? Well, they have a friendly office dog who is always looking for cuddles and tidbits! Pets aside, the team work incredibly hard. As a consultant, I walk into customer sites a lot, and I can say that the sense of ‘sqlfamily’ and community is felt throughout the team there, in the same way as community members also show a spirit of community. I really enjoyed my few days there, and I’d like to thank the team for their warm Canadian welcome and their ongoing support.

What happened at the PASS Board meeting? Well, lots was discussed, and you should await your PASS Connector newsletters, and your BA newsletters, for more information. All I can say for now, is that there is a *lot* of news coming and I hope that the community will appreciate it.

  • A plea for help for SQLSaturday Edinburgh along with some SQLBits commentary

I’m running SQLSaturday Edinburgh Business Intelligence Edition on 13th of June and I desperately need volunteers! If you’d like to register for the event, please register here. If you can help, please email me at jen.stirrup@datarelish.com Activities include: registration desk, room monitoring, PASS sponsor desk. I’m glad to say that I have a few volunteers, and I will thank them specifically after the event has occurred. So watch this space.

The SQLBits committee have decided to hold a team meeting on the same day as SQLSaturday Edinburgh. I’m as excited as anyone else about any SQL Server community news coming from the SQLBits team. However, this does mean I have lost some key volunteers who are headed to the SQLBits community team day, rather than come to SQLSaturday Edinburgh. I can totally understand their decision: SQLBits has ‘sex appeal’ and it is a much bigger event. SQLBits is a fantastic event, which I’ve been glad to be part of as a speaker and support it in different ways (more below).

In comparison, my SQLSaturday is a small event, so much so, that nobody realised the clash in dates when they organised their team meeting. I’m not part of the Committee – although I have volunteered to help them in this capacity for a long time – so I was not aware of this clash. I wish them all the best, but it does mean that I’m down some great experienced volunteers, and I am appealing to the tech community for help, assistance and love in trying to make sure that SQLSaturday Edinburgh Business Intelligence goes well operationally on the day for the SQLSaturday Edinburgh organising committee of one person – me! It does serve a real community need in Scotland. Not everyone attends SQLBits – England can seem as far away to Scottish people, as Scotland is to a lot of English people. The event is an unusual mix of rural locals, some of whom will travel for hours via boats from the isles. On the other hand, we get delegates flying in for the BI and BA angle, who come in from all over Europe. I am working hard, in term of my PASS Board activities, in doing things for the European community in particular, and the fledgling BI and BA community here in Europe and in the US via the PASS Business Analytics Conference which I helped to lead.

I am a Committee of one person for SQLSaturday Edinburgh – there is no failover here – and I hope that people will help, but until I ask for help, I’m not going to get any. So here we are! I hope that any potential volunteers will be as excited about this community as I am. Every little helps, as they say, so if you could help with small things like room monitoring or on the PASS booth, that would be fantastic.

  • A plea for the little guy – my thoughts on Business Analytics and Business Intelligence

I believe I am doing some ground-breaking work in doing Business Analytics and Business Intelligence dedicated events in Edinburgh (and London! – more news later!). We are trying something new this year. I have recruited cross product group MVPs and speakers from C#, Access, Visio, SharePoint and Excel as well as SQL Server and Azure. The underlying focus is on BA / BI but I am emphasising the ‘practical’ aspect of data by reaching out to different product groups, with the common theme being data. CRM, for example, is rich in data even if it isn’t traditional SQL Server BI. It’s a BI / BA event so that immediately cuts out DBA oriented content. I believe that the DBA audience is well served in the UK, with SQLBits, SQLRelay so I am not worried about this community missing out. I am worried about the ‘little guy’ who needs to nail data together, and find the promised insights from data and Big Data that Cx level executives are expecting. These Big Data promises need to be delivered by someone, and that person needs training, education, and a community for them to ‘learn, share and connect’. I am trying to work towards that globally as part of PASS, and particularly here in Europe. You will see more news about this from PASS official channels and I will keep it for that – for now, just know that I am bursting to share news!

Again, it is a risk to try this, but I think we will offer enough range within the topics to expand the audience, particularly since we are not actively seeking DBA content. We’re simply expanding in a different, data platform direction.

I hope that this blog isn’t perceived as a complaint about SQLBits or the team- it isn’t. It’s just that SQLSaturday Edinburgh is right down to the wire, and I only found out about this issue a few weeks ago. So I am getting desperate for volunteers and I wasn’t going to share this news at all, however, my efforts to turn up volunteers haven’t been met so I’m hoping for help for this ‘little guy’ too!

What will I do if I don’t get volunteers? I have the option to hire a delegate management package from the SQLSaturday Edinburgh venue. All will not be lost, but I didn’t budget for this emergency measure when I planned SQLSaturday Edinburgh. If I am stuck, I will do this, but obviously community events are run on a very tight budget and I am hoping to avoid this measure.

  • and a well wish to someone dear to me

I am, and have been, a long-term SQLBits supporter since SQLBits 2. I continue to wish them all the best in all that they do. Also, as my previous business partner is part of the SQLBits committee, I indirectly supported the event in terms of time off, my speaking, DitBits and so on, to help to make it happen. I was glad to do that, I don’t regret it for a minute. Here, please note that I wish Allan Mitchell the best wishes for his future ventures and adventures, and I wish this for him from the bottom of my heart.

Jen’s Diary: Overcoming the Power of Feathers through Action

I’m sorry I haven’t kept this diary up to date: I’ve been at SQLBits, SQLPass Nordic, Data Culture events, and other community gatherings. I’ve also had dental surgery, involving the removal of two teeth and the removal of some of my lower jaw. I haven’t been very happy, needless to say.

As always, I don’t represent PASS or any other organisation throughout this blog.

FYI I’ll be holding a Twitter Surgery Hour on Friday 20th March at 12pm GMT so please tweet me at @jenstirrup and ask me whatever you like! If you are not sure what time that is in your time zone, please check here.

never+not+broken[1]I’m not Hindi, but I’m inspired by the HIndu goddess Akhilanda, which means essentially “never not broken.” In other words, The Always Broken Goddess. Sanskrit is a tricky but amazing language. Here, we see a double negative here means that Akhilanda is broken right down to her name. The thing is, being broken is actually part of a renewal process, and it means that your broken parts can shine out more brightly than ever before – simply because you are broken, and moving, and reflect light out wide. It means you can pick up your pieces, and run without limits.

Outwardly, I am not an obvious leader. I realise I am a quiet person. I don’t party. I very rarely drink alcohol. I am not much of a dinner date – I am a forty something single mother, with no real hobbies or interests other than technology. I have never been someone to write home about. I am my own person.

People can know you by your reputation, but your actions can speak louder than words. Let me give you an example: a Jewish tale talks about a man, who went about the community telling gossip about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and wanted to apologise, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, “Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds.” When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, “Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers.”

Why do I write this blog? I want to give people something other than feathers, what is said about me, whether it is good or bad. Instead, I want to demonstrate real actions that prove me, demonstrate unequivocally that I work for the community, and work hard. Instead, I hope that these diary post series will overcome the power of feathers – whether they are good or bad – and shine out what I actually do for the community. Actions speak louder than words, and this is how we overcome the power of feathers – let your light shine more brightly than ever, even if you are not perfect but broken. For me, I work really hard for the community and hope that the actions demonstrate that.

I’m hoping that people will see how hard I’ve worked for the community, and they will hold onto that data – we are in a data-driven decade, right? – and they will see the data for what it is. So, what have I been doing?

Ongoing – PASS BA Conference. I attend conference calls for about three hours a week, some weeks, up to seven hours, and these calls are held from 9pm my time onwards. Obviously, that takes out a few of my evenings a week. I obviously have work to to outside of this time, such as sponsorship, blogging on numerous occasions, email.

Ongoing – I have been holding PASS Data Science Virtual Chapter webinars every Friday night, 9pm my time. This obviously takes out my Friday night, in additional to the BAC calls I mention above, and I have been doing this for four consecutive weeks now. This week is the last week, and I’m considering doing a five week introductory course to Python and/or AzureML after that. I’ve held lots of Virtual Chapter meetings before, particularly since I held that Portfolio for PASS last year. My most popular sessions were on data visualisation, personally, but I have noted that my audience has really increased over the last five weeks and I’d like to continue to offer that community support.

March 2015 – I tried to hold another DiTBits (Diversity in Technology) event at SQLBits, but, alas, this wasn’t to be. The event wasn’t marketed and it seemed a pity to try and shoehorn something in at the last moment. Next time, I hope.

March 2015 – I held a two hour R and Python for SQL and Business Intelligence Professionals session at SQLBits. Files and notes to follow (see earlier note about my surgery!) It was extremely well attended.

March 2015 – I held a general session on Data Visualisation, entitled Eye Vegetables and Eye Candy: How to Visualise your Data at SQLBits. Again, notes to follow (I’m still recovering from surgery…)

March 2015 – I did half of a joint session at SQLBits with Allan Mitchell, where I talked about Kibana. The topic was Building Scaleable Analytical Solutions on Azure and it was fun presenting with Allan.

March 2015 – I spoke at SQLRally Nordic on Pulling back the green curtain: Data Forensics, Power Bi and Dataviz.

March 2015 – I held a Women in Technology event at SQLRally Nordic, talking about the importance of diverse teams.

March 2015 – I interviewed Mico Yuk as part of our ‘Meet the Experts’ series and you can listen to the podcast here. I’m really looking forward to meeting her!

Feb 2015 – Ongoing – I worked to help get the Data Science Virtual Chapter off the ground, led by Mark Tabladillo, who is the VC lead. This has involved groundwork, phone calls, and working with Microsoft to get speakers. You should really register for the Data Science VC. It’s great fun!

Feb 2015 – Data Culture – I was the keynote speaker for Microsoft, which was great fun! The slideshare is below. My section is about the middle third or so; credits are on the slides for the other speakers.

Feb 2015 – Ongoing – I kicked off my series Intro to R series of webinars for the Data Science Virtual Chapter
Feb 2015 – I ramped up my SQLSaturday Edinburgh in earnest, which has a Business Intelligence focus.
Feb 2015 – I held an Excel BI VC session on cubes and Excel. I also hosted another session as a mentor.
Feb 2015 – Techdays – I held a webinar on AzureML to over six thousand people. Nervous? Yes, bordering on terror. Great thanks to Andrew Fryer (I’m honoured to call him my friend) for all of his support and he’s an inspiration to me, and I was glad to be his presenting small person for the day.
Feb 2015 – Hants UG – on the same day that I held the Techdays session, I left and travelled to Hampshire to deliver a session on AzureML.
I hope it’s clear that, in the past few months, I have been doing a lot of work for the community as well as my PASS Board responsibilities.
So, if you catch a feather and want to ask me about it, my email is jen.stirrup@datarelish.com or tweet me during my Twitter Hour on the 20th March. I look forward to your input. Just go ahead and ask me!

Jen’ Diary: Board Meeting, BA Marathon, PASS BA features on TechNetRadio!

Here’s another diary entry for my time on the PASS board. I don’t represent PASS officially here. I know it has been quiet but I am busy on PASS, work, and other community things such as SQLSaturday Edinburgh and TechDays UK. So far this year, I have had one night off! It’s 2.30am here in the UK and I’m churning out a blog, so I can’t be accused of shirking!

If you are attending Pass BA Conference and looking for a discount, please email me at jen.stirrup@sqlpass.org and I have a discount code to give away.

I attended the PASS Board meeting in January, talking mainly about handing over the Virtual Chapters portfolio but the main focus of my time was the PASS BA Conference. We talked about our goals for the Portfolio, our progress so far, and our next steps. I also shared some marketing insights. I’m on the Program Committee, so I talked about our process for going out and getting the big names in the analytics industry – people who live and breathe analytics. It has been a lot of fun, but it has also been extremely hard work to get the right speakers. Our speaker list is here. We still have some names to release, so watch that space.

I’ve also been helping some of the sponsors with thoughts on their content and material. Hortonworks are going to put on a great session and you’ll get more details of that, in the future.

I also took part in the PASS BA Marathon. My session is here. Again, the PASS HA team did a great job of supporting this event and the sessions are extremely fresh. The speakers did an amazing job!

I was also part of the process in securing our amazing Day 2 keynote speaker, Mico Yuk. I have so many things to look forward to at PASS BA, and Mico’s session is a real highlight for me. Mico has many achievements, including one of the top 50 Analytic voices on Twitter. We are blessed to have her with us, and I can’t wait to hear her talk and to get to know her in person.

More good news! What did Microsoft’s Jen Moser, Jen Underwood and Miguel Martinez @sqljen @maikelson @idigdata say about the ‪#‎passbac‬ with TechNetRadio?

I’m so excited to be part of this opportunity to grow the business-focused data community, the data analyst, the business analyst, who works with data but doesn’t work in the IT department. It is a exciting growth in our approach and our fantastic speaker list reflects our vision about the emerging BA community and what they really want.

Miguel is correct; we worked hard to invite big name analytics speakers, and they are coming!

Listen here!
//channel9.msdn.com/Shows/TechNet+Radio/TechNet-Radio-Data-Insights-Action-Register-NOW-for-the-PASS-BA-Conference/player