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PASS Director-at-Large Profile: Tim Ford

Tim Ford shared his insights and experiences as a PASS Director-at-Large, just in time for the Board applications opening on August 16. To find out more about the “Why Run” campaign and how to apply visit the PASS Board Applications page.

  1. How did you first become involved with the PASS community?
    I was approached by another community member who was forming something called "SIGs" or Special Interest Groups at my first Summit in 2002. By the end of the week, I had volunteered to form and lead the DBA SIG, which transitioned into the DBA Virtual Group. Eventually, I'd go on to serve on the Program Committee, produce the first two SQLSaturdays in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and host the annual Quiz Bowl (which used to be presented at the opening reception of Summit), before joining the Board of Directors.

  2. How would you describe your role as Director-at-Large?
    No matter which portfolio(s) you own, you work with your HQ counterparts to develop strategic goals that continuously strive to improve the offerings and experiences of our association members, while working within the confines of a budget. As a Director-at-Large, you're assigned a portfolio to manage and set goals for, which must align with the goals set by the Executive Board earlier in the term. You then work with the lead HQ counterpart for that portfolio to set the strategic course and regularly review the operational processes that lead to accomplishing the goals. As a Director, you're not focused on or responsible for executing the tasks at hand. You're responsible for asking questions and developing the strategic plan for achieving success for PASS, specifically the goals you set early on in your term.

    I spend anywhere from 5-10 hours per week working with HQ staff to drive efforts forward, ask challenging questions, and adjust strategically when needed. I speak with and listen to community voices, fellow board members, and trusted partners as I guide PASS towards constant improvements in educational and other professional development offerings, and work on expanding the relevance and reach of PASS.

  3. What have been some of your most memorable experiences as Director-at-Large?
    The first time I stepped into the board room after being elected was eye-opening. Until you serve on the Board, you really don't have any idea just how much effort and consideration it takes to run an association like PASS. If we were merely an event company hosting training events and nothing else, it would be much easier. However, we are an association and want to do more than just events, so understanding all of the offerings and effort that go into the entire process blew me away (and continues to do so). 

  4. What have been some of your biggest challenges as Director-at-Large?
    It's difficult as someone who has made a career of stepping in when there are problems to solve - and solving them through hands-on efforts - to not act operationally and on the front lines to accomplish the plans we set forth as directors. We place a great deal of trust in our HQ staff to accomplish the tasks required to meet our strategic goals. Additionally, there are always going to be those individuals that are critical of your efforts when serving on any board and they're likely going to be more vocal than your supporters. It's always wise to remember that critics are more prone to respond to efforts towards change than supporters, and that if you’re not drawing criticism, it's likely because you're not working hard enough to push PASS towards greater successes. 

  5. How has being a Director-at-Large changed or benefited you?
    Being a Director has expanded my professional network, has strengthened my strategic planning skills, has matured me both professionally and personally, and has made me a much better community member, business owner, technical leader, and most-importantly, a much more patient listener. 

  6. Can you share your thoughts on the characteristics required to become a successful member of the PASS board?
    You don't need to be a phenomenal DBA, Developer, or IT Pro to be a successful board member. However, having insights into what these individuals want and need to make themselves successful is critical. It also goes without saying that the ability to think strategically, to see the big picture, and have a strong vision for where you want to see PASS go is vital. Being able to collaborate and listen to others, both in the board room and in the community, is also necessary. Being able to set and stick to a schedule and see projects spanning months or years through to the end, being flexible in their execution, is also important.

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