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PASS Summit 2019 All Access Winner - Susan Dallegro

As the winner of the PASS Summit 2019 All Access contest I was awarded a complimentary 3-day general session registration for PASS Summit 2019 plus some perks that really made my first PASS Summit experience very special.  These included on-site VIP meet and greets, free ticket to a community-hosted games night, a PASStv interview, reserved front row seating for the PASS Summit 2019 Keynote sessions, a full USB of all PASS Summit 2019 recordings, and some nice swag a PASS Summit branded back pack and water bottle.

I was super excited when I found out that I had won.  I knew that the PASS Summit would be an excellent opportunity to receive world class technical training, learn where the future of the field is heading, make new friends, and experience everything that the community has to offer.  I intended to take full advantage of the opportunity.  I thoroughly and enjoyed every minute of my time at the event.

My journey began on Tuesday evening. I had chosen to attend the First-Timers event and I am so glad that I did.  The speakers provided useful tips on how to navigate the conference without becoming completely worn out.  You just can’t do everything.  Attendees also got to know a handful of other first timers as we were grouped into teams for a trivia game.  After the event, several of us went together to the welcome reception.   It was great to enjoy some food and beverages with new friends!

Wednesday morning kicked off the first day of the General Sessions and the first of my prize perks; a reserved front row seat for the Keynote session.  I must confess that I felt a bit awkward as I walked along the front row of an already crowed auditorium, my badge adorned with A HIGHLY visible FIRST-TIMERS’ ribbon, my hands clutching the paper schedule of a novice conference goer.  As I drew near to the only remaining unsearched section of the front row, dead center, my nervous tension went into overdrive, group was gathered and blocking the seats.  ‘Oh no’ I thought ‘I’m not sure I have the nerve to creep around or ask them to move’ 

Upon seeing my nervous disoriented approach, a man from the group asked if he could help.  I began to explain that I had won a contest but before I could finish he enthusiastically said ‘You are our All Access winner! Hello!’  He introduced himself as Adam Jorgensen then turned immediately to the rest of the group and announced ‘she is our All Access winner!’   Each person in the group was quick to offer a handshake, smile, and congratulations, as they introduced themselves as members of the PASS Board.  This unscheduled impromptu meet and greet was slightly overwhelming, but my nervousness gave way to joyful excitement as they welcomed me to join them in the front row.  As I took my seat I had to admit this was pretty cool!

The Keynote session was a super charged tour of new features of SQL Server 2019 and advance in the Azure data platform.  The speakers had the audience clapping and cheering.  The Day 2 Keynote was equally as captivating.  Tara Wheeler, a force of nature, provided a unique perspective as she discussed the challenges of data governance, data privacy, and security in a global market.

The scheduled meet and greets with PASS board members included time with Grant Fritchey, PASS President and Wendy Pastrick Executive Vice President, Finance & Governance.  Our introductions took place in the ‘Community Zone’ which is a relaxed lounge area complete with beanbag chairs where community members can gather with other PASS community members and PASS community Virtual Group members.   Grant and Wendy exuded the same enthusiasm and kindness that the other board members had shown.  I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them.

My final meet and greet with Donald Farmer took place following his spotlight session, The New Analyst’. This session was outstanding and I could have spent the remainder of the day contemplating all that was presented.   I felt very fortunate to have the VIP meet and greet as he spent some extra time talking with me as we strolled through Exhibit Hall.

I cannot talk about the highlights without saying a few words about the sessions themselves.  The PASS Summit website provides information tools for choosing sessions and creating a schedule.  The content areas and learning pathways were a huge help to me as I created a schedule.  As I mentioned earlier it’s impossible to attend every session and activity.  I am looking forward to using the USB of recorded sessions as part of the prize. 

Every session I attended was terrific.  The speakers not only were experts but they had masterful presentation skills as well.  I would like to let you know that you don’t have to win a prize or have scheduled meet and greets to engage with the session speakers.  Every one of them was happy to answer questions and continue discussions post-session as time permitted.

In addition to the technical sessions, I chose to attend some offerings pertaining to leadership.  These were just as valuable as the technical sessions.  Even if you don’t intend to enter into management or a leadership role, you can still benefit from these sessions.  Along providing guidance and tips for those who wish to transition into management there was a strong focus on communication skills.  These skills are helpful to all data professionals as we navigate the non-technical challenges they face in the workplace. 

As part of the All Access pass I was given the opportunity to attend one of the community hosted game nights.  This is a really nice event in a comfortable low key environment.  Playing board games is a natural icebreaker.   I made some new friends from all over the world.  We had a wonderful time talking and laughing as we played the Timeline card game.  When that was finished, we moved on to PASS Summit Jenga.   We even managed to build a Jenga tower that was as tall as me!  I highly recommend this event.

Another highlight was the Women in Technology Luncheon.  FYI, this wasn’t just for women.  All were welcome.  This event combined 3 of my favorite activities; learning, talking, and eating. It was yet another opportunity to make new friends as we conversed over lunch.  The speaker, Lashana Lewis conveyed the importance of diversity and inclusion in data.  She shared personal stories of her journey to become a technical expert with intelligence and humor.  It was truly enjoyable.

In conclusion I would like to extend my gratitude to the PASS Board and the PASS Community Manager for granting me this opportunity.  The PASS Summit exceeded my expectations.  Not only did I cram my brain with information and make new friends, I have new appreciation and admiration for the PASS organization and the PASS community.  It is a truly special organization!

Susan Dallegro
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PASS Summit 2019 All Access Winner

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