PASS Blog

The official PASS blog provides all the latest announcements, developments, and informative updates from the PASS Community and PASS Board of Directors. The blog is updated regularly, so please check back often or subscribe to be advised when new posts are published.

Category: Local Groups

FAQ for New Speakers

One of the goals of the PASS Women in Technology (WIT) Virtual Group is to promote sessions presented by women, be that well-known seasoned speakers or new speakers just getting started. Presenting at technical events can advance your career by helping you build your brand, gain recognition, and lead to opportunities.

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The Value of Joining a PASS Local Group

A handful of years ago, just before the annual PASS Summit conference (an event focused on technical professionals who use the Microsoft Data Platform), the leader of my PASS Local Group reached out to members planning to attend. He had arranged for us all to meet for breakfast during the event and I soon found myself sitting with a small group of fellow enthusiasts from my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, chatting about real world SQL problems. Myself and one of the other individuals ended up hitting it off and we became solid acquaintances. A few weeks later, when my shop was in search of an experienced data professional, my thoughts immediately returned to the conversations I’d had with this person. One thing led to another and, in the end, we hired them.

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BA Community Goals for FY 2017

I wanted to take this opportunity to follow up on the recent blog from Denise McInerney, The Future of the BA Community. That blog spoke to the history of BA and PASS, and also detailed why PASS has decided not to host a BA Conference in 2017. I won’t go into any more of that reasoning here – you can read that in the blog – but what I will touch on are some of the strategies for community building and the BA Community goals for FY 2017.

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The Future of the BA Community



Everything we do at PASS is focused on helping members—and the broader data community—connect with each other, share experiences, and improve their skills. We are dedicated to providing networking opportunities, knowledge sharing, and peer-based learning across all our Local and Virtual Chapters and communities. In 2012, we embarked on an initiative to reach out to the growing number of business and data analytics professionals tasked with extracting meaning and value from their organizations’ data.

Over the past 4.5 years we have learned a lot about the needs of those who work in Business Analytics (BA). We have presented thought leadership and technical training at four annual Business Analytics Conferences, helping thousands of data professionals use technologies such as Excel, Power BI, SQL, and other analytics platforms to gain insight into their business. And our community continues to grow, with more than 25,000 PASS members from around the world identifying a professional interest in BA and 27% year-over-year (May 2015 - May 2016) growth in the BA Virtual Chapter.

At the same time, the data professionals who manage the systems that store data are being challenged to support analytics needs in new and different ways. From running R in SQL Server to providing users with self-service access to data through Power BI, to unlocking the possibilities of advanced analytics through the Cortana Intelligence Suite, the technical interests and educational needs of DBAs and Developers in IT, and data analysts in the business, are increasingly overlapping.

As more companies across all industries are embracing data to inform their decision making, the growth opportunities for PASS members abound.

I’d like to share with you the evolution of the strategic direction of our BA initiative. The heart of the plan moving forward is community growth, with a focus on expanding outreach to increase visibility, by strengthening local groups, and broadening the scope of our analytics community globally.

A major component of PASS’ BA initiative has been the BA Conference. At BA Conference 2016 we again attracted the right business analytics audience and provided them with relevant content. BAC 2016 received an overwhelmingly positive response from attendees; 91% were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied and most said they would recommend BAC to a colleague. However, despite very positive attendee feedback for the BA Conference the past two years, the event has not grown in attendance.

The PASS Board spent time reflecting on all we have learned the past four years and has decided to take a more comprehensive, multi-prong approach to BA community engagement in FY17. We will emphasize local events and user groups, expanded virtual engagement and Marathon series, and thought leadership, instead of investing the majority of time and resources into a single large conference. PASS knows that the best way to grow community is to be in the community, working alongside our members and volunteers. If you are interested in hosting a local event or for more information, contact Teresa Cheung (teresa.cheung@sqlpass.org).

We believe a more localized effort with a variety of offerings will drive more effective engagement and growth for our PASS community. As the community evolves, the PASS Board will continue to assess and adjust. While we will not be hosting a BA Conference in the spring of 2017, we are open to holding another large BA event at a later date.

Business Analytics is a natural extension for PASS. We are committed to helping data professionals connect, share, and learn, whether they work in IT or in the business. We are very excited about the opportunities ahead and look forward to the continued growth and success in the area of Business Analytics.

Denise McInerney
Vice President, Marketing

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PASS Voting Eligibility and Upcoming Elections

May 7, 2015 – During the 2014 election cycle, the PASS Board established specific eligibility requirements for voting in the PASS elections. These requirements are designed to help de-duplicate member data for eligible voters before ballot notifications are sent. Specific mandatory fields have been added to the myProfile section of sqlpass.org to help us better serve the community.

To cast a ballot, members must complete all mandatory fields in their myPASS profile. PASS members who have not completed their profile will receive a reminder to update their myPASS profile to be eligible to vote. Your profile must be completed by 11:59 pm PDT June 1, 2015 to guarantee eligibility to cast ballots in the 2015 PASS elections.   

Don’t miss your chance to vote in the PASS elections! To confirm your eligibility, please log into your myPASS account to look for the follow eligibility stamp:


PASS is your organization. Thank you for helping to shape its future by participating in the elections process. 

–Bill Graziano
Immediate Past President

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SQLSaturday Site Redesign: Better than Ever

April 6, 2015--Over the past few weeks, we’ve been alerting people to something exciting: our new SQLSaturday website redesign. It’s now faster and easier than ever to manage, speak at, sponsor, or attend a SQLSaturday event!  After a great deal of effort by our staff and community volunteers for months (years, actually) the update is finally here—we hope you’ll stop by and take a look! The redesign will significantly improve the SQLSaturday experience for attendees, speakers, and event and chapter leaders. 

For starters, the new site makes it easier than ever to manage your SQLSaturday event or your Speaker Profile. One of the changes we’ve made is to tie in PASS accounts, so that leaders and speakers don’t need to juggle multiple account logins. 

Speakers now have a universal Speaker Profile that is associated with their PASS accounts and can be applied across events. This change and others make it easier for speakers to manage and track abstract submissions, upload presentations, and get feedback about their sessions. 

If you’re an event leader, you can now use your PASS account to access the Admin site—which has also received a facelift. The site features a cleaner, easier-to-use dashboard that will help to simplify the process of managing an event, including allowing you to associate an event with a chapter.

We’ve also improved the Session Management UI, which now supports a wider variety of session lengths as well as color-coding of tracks and rooms. Plus, you can add keynotes, rest breaks, and raffle draws as non-session items.

SQLSaturday attendees will benefit from the mobile-friendly redesign as well. Use your PASS account to manage your registrations, download SpeedPASS, pay for lunches, and deliver event feedback.

Sponsorship is an even more winning proposition, with a new slider and improved sign-up form that saves sponsors time and effort. (Sponsors will need to complete a one-time upload of new logo graphics to meet our improved display requirements, but beyond that, improvements will be effortless.)

We’re excited to hear what you think about the changes. If you have feedback or questions, we hope you’ll reach out to us at ITSupport@sqlsaturday.com.

--Tim Ford
Director, PASS SQLSaturday

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Refreshing the Regional Mentor Program

January 6, 2015 – The PASS Regional Mentor program is all about providing trusted counsel, sharing ideas, and encouraging and supporting local Chapter Leaders and event organizers. From facilitating new Chapter launches and sharing ideas on how to market and grow local user groups to helping chapters find speakers, sponsors, and host a SQLSaturday event in their city, these dedicated volunteer “coaches” are charged with helping build a stronger data community around the world.

Over the past three years, we’ve been making minor adjustments to the RM program to fine-tune processes and provide RMs useful resources, help with consistency across regions, and provide better support to local leaders. Last month, we sent a survey to Chapter Leaders, asking for their feedback on how their RMs, and the program overall, were working for them.

With 18 of PASS’s 19 regions providing input, we were pleased to find that over 75% of respondents say their RMs have been very to somewhat helpful. According to the survey results, 42% of the Chapter Leaders are hearing from their RMs either monthly or bi-monthly, with another 23% hearing from their RMs at least quarterly. But there’s still room for improvement, with a little over 10% of Chapter Leaders feeling that their RMs are not very helpful and some saying they don’t hear from their RMs.

With the Chapter Leaders’ feedback, as well as input from RMs during their annual meeting at PASS Summit 2014 in November, we’ve identified some changes we think will not only help make this program even more valuable to Chapters and local events but will also enhance the volunteer RM role as a key stepping stone to other potential PASS leadership opportunities, including running for the PASS Board of Directors.

Here are the changes we’re making to the RM program for 2015:

    • All RMs will now live in the region they represent. We believe we have a large enough volunteer pool now to meet this requirement.
    • When assigning RMs for a region, we will make sure to choose representatives from various parts of the region to provide better geographic coverage. Again, with the growing number of PASS volunteers, this should be easy to achieve.
    • RM candidates who have prior Chapter leadership experience, have served on a Chapter Board, or have worked to organize a SQLSaturday event will be preferred over candidates without this experience.
    • We will prefer RMs willing to serve in this volunteer leadership role exclusively for the duration of the assignment, although in some areas we understand that this might not be possible due to limited volunteer resources.
    • We will be doing an annual renewal for each RM, based on reports from Chapter Leaders, fellow RMs, and HQ.
    • In the US, we received some feedback about the alignment of states within regions. Based on that input, we are shifting some states to create a new Mountain region and moving some other states around within existing regions*. We’ve also increased or reduced the number of RMs in certain areas, based on local needs.
    • As part of our commitment to helping RMs succeed, we will be meeting with them bi-monthly and providing a monthly summary of PASS initiatives and other resources and tools to help RMs provide better support for Chapter and SQLSaturday leaders in their region.

PASS is built on the shoulders of its strong volunteer community, devoted to helping fellow data professionals around the world Connect, Share, and Learn. And we want to say a special Thank You to all of our hardworking, dedicated RMs for the time, effort, and passion they share with Chapter Leaders and event organizers in their area.

We are excited about the improved service and support as well as the additional opportunities these changes will bring to the PASS community, and we look forward to hearing from RMs and local leaders throughout the year about how the refreshed RM program is working for them. Please send your feedback and ideas to ce@sqlpass.org.
– Wendy Pastrick
PASS Director, Global Chapters

* US Regions Realignment
US-NorthEast – CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT
US-MidAtlantic – DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA, WV
US-SouthEast – AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN
US-NorthCentral – IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI
US-SouthCentral – AR, LA, NM, OK, TX
US-MidWest – IA, KS, MO, NE
US-Mountain (new) – CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY
US-SouthWest – AZ, CA, HI, NV
US-NorthWest – AK, ID, OR, WA


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Working on Strategy for Local BA Events

December 22, 2014 – With a growing interest in and questions among community members about expanding into business analytics-related chapters and adding more local events such as BA SQLSaturdays, the PASS Board of Directors took up the discussion at our last meeting of 2014.

PASS is pursuing a variety of online offerings to serve business and data analytics professionals and is working with the Virtual Chapters that cover BA-related topics. We are also excited about the possibilities in growing our BA-related local activities and creating more in-person training and networking opportunities. But to make sure that we are serving the community in the best way, the Board agreed on our Thursday conference call to suspend such further expansion until we can develop and agree upon a plan for structuring and growing these new BA community groups and events. (Look for the official minutes of this meeting to be posted on the Governance page in January.)

While we work with community members on a strategy that will successfully move us forward in supporting business and data analytics professionals around the world, we ask that you hold off on any new local PASS-sponsored BA initiatives. We’ll be looking for your ideas and feedback in the New Year – feel free to contact me any time if you have questions or comments – and please watch the PASS Blog and Community Connector for the latest updates.

Wishing all the #sqlfamily a safe and happy holiday season,
– Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing

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FY2015 Chapter Goals: Supporting Local Data Communities

March 18, 2014  There’s nothing like nurturing in-person relationships with folks who share the same passion as you do. And our 291 grassroots Chapters located around the globe are doing PASS proud by enabling local networking and shared learning with data professionals living and working in the same area.

This is my second year as Director of PASS Chapters, and while we’ve accomplished much this past year, I’m already looking forward to where we need to focus our time and energy in fiscal year 2015 (FY2015).  Here are the Chapter Portfolio goals we’re proposing to support and grow local data communities:

    • Enable Chapters to access more content on a variety of topics, including Cloud, Big Data, and Business Analytics.
    • Continue to provide great benefits to Chapter Leaders, such as access to PASS content and events, in a fiscally responsible manner by establishing parameters for PASS event complimentary registration eligibility. These parameters will be managed via self-reporting tools for Chapters, available in early FY2015.
    • Help establish at least 10 new BI/BA-focused Chapters.
    • Look into setting up additional SQL Server-related Chapters in countries with no or very few Chapters, helping support increased knowledge sharing and learning in those communities.

If you have yet to connect with data peers in your area, I encourage you to look into joining – or starting – a PASS Chapter near you. And before I sign off, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all the Chapter leaders who work tirelessly to share their passion for knowledge and the community. Please send your feedback on these goals to wendy.pastrick@sqlpass.org.
– Wendy Pastrick
Chapters Director, PASS Board


 


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Regional Mentor Welcomes, Farewells

January 21, 2014 – PASS Regional Mentors are all about helping local Chapter Leaders and event organizers on their way to success. From supporting new Chapter launches and sharing ideas on how to market and grow your user group to helping you find speakers, sponsors, and even host a SQLSaturday event in your city, these dedicated volunteers are helping build a stronger data community around the world.

PASS is excited to introduce new and returning RMs for many of our regions, and please join us in extending a heartfelt thanks and best wishes to our outgoing RMs as they continue to serve the PASS community.

    • LATAM: PASS is welcoming a new RM team for the LATAM region this year, and we thank outgoing RMs Carlos Farias, Jesus Gil, John Bulla, and Mary Arcia – as well as departing Brazil RM Luciano Moreira – for all their efforts in building the foundation for LATAM PASS.
    • Middle East/Africa: Nabeel Derhem (blog | @NabeelDerhem) is partnering with Jody Roberts as RM for the Middle East/Africa region as Gareth Swanepoel moves from MEA to the US-Southeast.
    • UK: Jonathan Allen is leaving as UK RM, with Neil Hambly (blog | @Neil_Hambly) joining RM Mark Broadbent to support the region.
    • US - North Central: John Morehouse (blog | @SqlrUs) is teaming up with existing North Central RM Ted Krueger in place of outgoing RM Jason Strate.
    • US - Northeast: Mike Hillwig (blog | @mikehillwig) is joining Jack Corbett as RM for the US-Northeast as Steve Hughes finishes his tenure.
    • US - Southeast: As noted earlier, Gareth Swanepoel (blog | @garethswan) is moving from the MEA region to join Southeast RMs Kendal Van Dyke and Tim Radney in place of Jose Chinchilla, who is now part of the new LATAM RM team.

Thanks again to our outgoing mentors for all their contributions, and good luck to our 2014 RM teams as they support the growing PASS communities in their regions. If you’re interested in becoming a PASS RM and would like to learn more about this valuable role and future opportunities, please contact Karla Landrum.



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