Tuesday, September 23, 2014

PASSion for PASS

I am running once again for the PASS Board of Directors. One of the questions in my Board interview by the Nominations Committee was "What is the biggest challenge currently facing the Board?" My answer could have included many things, but the top issue I see was highlighted by the current slate of candidates you have for this year's election.

Why are there only four candidates for the Board?
Why do people not want to run for the Board?
Why would you not want to give back to your community or become more involved in an organization that has given you so much be it training or networking or opportunity?

If you base perception of what it means to be a Board member on reading many of the more vocal critics of PASS, I can see how that can make it daunting. It is not easy to have your character, your motives and your decisions picked apart by people for every communication or path which is chosen. In that vein, I would like to clear up a few misconceptions about my involvement in PASS and my work status.

1. I am a DBA. My title is Data Platform Consultant. Majority of my work relates to performance tuning, high availability and more recently delving into the realms of APS and Azure. Yes, I do sometimes work in SSIS or (gasp!) SSRS and have even had some exposure to Analysis Services, but primarily and foremost I am still a SQL Engine DBA.

2. I have been very fortunate over the years to build an amazing network of friends, colleagues and technical experts. This is what PASS is to me - not an acronym but a community sharing their knowledge and supporting each other. I regret not blogging about my decision to accept the PASS name as it stands, without the words behind it. It had nothing to do with dropping SQL Server out of the name. PASS is a global organization - did you know that in some countries, it is actually illegal to call yourself a "Professional" anything unless you have been granted that designation by the local government? Trying to manage different org names for various countries is not a good use of our resources. I would have preferred we come up with another name, but PASS has so much branding already behind it, that route didn't stand a chance. I did make the suggestion, more than once, to come up with a separate entity name for the BA focus. No, I didn't have anything in mind but I did share my thought with the Board. (Example: Coinstar bought Redbox, but they now operate under an umbrella called Outerwall) I'm hopeful that using PASS is only a first step and we can come up with a more meaningful naming.

3. Yes, I now work for Pragmatic Works. Many of you who know me know that this was one of the toughest decisions I've had to make in a long time. From afar, it may appear that I was wooed away but alas, that is not the case. I found myself in a position where I needed to find new employment. Every person I talked to over a several week period suggested I really look at what I wanted to do. I want to work with PDW. "Have you talked to Adam?" No, I didn't - not for several weeks until it became clear that it wasn't fair of me to exclude them as a potential employer. I love consulting. I love learning. I've found a place to work that promotes both, while also supports my efforts to maintain involvement with the PASS community. There is a reason there are so many amazing people who work with PW! I can assure you that Adam and I understand working on the Board has nothing to do with our employment at the same company. We were on the Board prior to my employment here and I will not be changing the way I think or involve myself just because I've changed jobs. If Adam didn't respect me for my own decision making ability and thought leadership, then PW would not have hired me anyway.

4. Groupthink. This one is tougher. As a Board member, each person has their own portfolio. We don't micromanage the other portfolios. We come together at Board meetings and give each other status reports or present ideas. I take the criticism for anything that comes from "PASS" whether I had any direct involvement or not. Not everything is a vote. Not everything is a discussion. Sometimes, things happen and I find out about it maybe hours or days before the rest of the Community. If there is any groupthink happening, it would be between a portfolio owner and the HQ counterparts. I can tell you that my Community Evangelists know what direction I'm planning and they make suggestions and have questions and we involve others, too. I was very open with the Chapters and Regional Mentors during the Chapter Agreement rewrite process. I moved my deadline back three times to ensure they had ample time to respond and we made a lot of additional changes based on that feedback. Was I swayed by groupthink? Absolutely - from the community.

I will always be involved with PASS in some fashion or another. With any luck, I will be able to continue to encourage people to step up and become involved. PASS needs volunteers. PASS needs YOU - yes, YOU. This organization is more than the sum of its parts, it is #sqlfamily. I am forever thankful for the support and encouragement I get (especially in these past few days) from those friends and colleagues.

As with everything else politically related, I want to encourage you to make up your OWN mind about who you want to vote for and why. Each candidate has their information and application posted on the Elections website. Check us all out. Decide who you want on the Board, but make it your decision.

Just make sure to Vote!


1 comment:

  1. Wendy, I appreciate you taking the time to bring up the chapter agreement. It was great that you guys were willing to change the sign deadline and work with the community to come up with a better agreement. As a chapter leader, I remember going through the process and seeing an what seemed like an extremely complicated agreement become much easier to follow.