My second PASS Summit concluded a week ago. It was just as amazing as my first, but also completely different. It’s like trying to compare an orange and a mandarin. The differences weren’t just related to the different locations. The differences came with how many people I already knew, even if I only knew them as a twitter friend. Last year I knew less than 10 people at the beginning of the conference. This year I knew over a 100 people personally before the conference started and by the end of the conference I had at the very least doubled that.
|Side note: Please don’t be bummed if I don’t list your name below. If I listed everyone I met at Summit, this post would look like the book of Numbers in the Bible (and be just as exciting). I enjoyed my time with everyone, but can only mention a few.
My absolute favorite part of PASS Summit is meeting people and networking with them. With 5000 people attending Summit this year and 1400 of which were First Timers, I had ample supply of new people to meet. Last year, I participated in the First Timer’s program as a First-Timer. Joe Fleming (t), my “Summit buddy” really helped me get my bearings before attending the Summit and helped with questions that I had throughout the Summit. I so strongly believe in this program, that I signed up to be a “Summit Buddy” myself this year. I’m so glad that I did, because it let me start networking before I even arrived in Charlotte. I was assigned five First-Timers and immediately started sending them emails on how to prepare for Summit. I also had them send a bit of information to our little first-timers team including a picture so that we would be able to recognize each other all week. Along the way, I even picked up two others.
I did find it difficult for us to coordinate meeting each other as a group though. Mostly due to my various volunteer duties and meetings that were during the prime time to meet. While the whole group couldn’t meet, I did run into half my group throughout the week, and was able to hang out with David Maxwell (b|t) and Melissa Chen at various events. Melissa even shared with me that she loved the emails I sent her so she shared them with her team at work who were attending Summit, but didn’t have a “Summit Buddy”. (Loved that!)
|Side note: I do think we need a different name than Summit Buddy. I think Summit Mentor, or SQL Big Sister and SQL Big Brother sound a bit better.
PASS Summit is a wonderful place to spend more time with SQL Family. The downside is there is not enough time to spend quality time with EVERYONE. So, I decided before Summit that since there was no way I can see and talk to everyone, that I would try my best and leave it at that.
This year I really enjoyed meeting all my Twitter friends. You know, the ones you have been talking to for months, but have no idea what their real names are and half the time you don’t even know what they look like because they have a coffee cup for a “mug shot”… Speaking of Father Jack (b|t), I really enjoyed getting to hang out with him all week with all of our Australian friends. It’s funny how some “in person” time can alter a relationship and make it more meaningful. I also enjoyed spending time with Richie Rump (b|t) and tweeting with him during the Keynote speeches on the first day.
This year I found myself hanging out more with my international SQL Family members, than I did last year. I shared many meals and drinks and had wonderful conversations with Julie Koesmarno (b|t), Martin Cairney (t), Father Jack (b|t), Rob Farley (b|t), Scott Stauffer (b|t), and Mladen Prajdic (b|t) . I miss them all terribly. I also enjoyed my time with Maria Zakourdaev (b|t) from Isreal. I remembered having breakfast with her last year on Friday morning and she was so quiet. This year it was like watching a flower bloom. I can’t wait to see her again next year.
One of MANY favorite memories in Charlotte was getting to spend some time with my mentor Grant Fritchey (b|t). We rarely get to see each other since we have three time zones between us and are usually with a large crowd of people when we are at the same event. I enjoyed having dinner with him and a few friends Monday night after SQL in the City, getting to say “hi” here and there all week, and finally getting a whole, uninterrupted hour of his time on Friday for us to talk shop.
I don’t want you to think I spent the whole week just hanging out with people I knew. I purposefully found people I didn’t know and introduced myself. I now have many new friends on my SQL Family list. Here are some of the highlights.
· Someone introduced me to Ola Hallengren (b). We enjoyed a couple of different conversation, but our first conversation was at a Karaoke bar and it was about the song Mickey by Toni Basil which was also sung by Swedish popular music singer Carola Häggkvist. (Tim, put that in the Quizbowl next year!)
· I actually met Bradley Ball (b|t) and Ben DeBow (t) two weeks before Summit. All three of us presented at Dev Connections in Las Vegas with several other amazing speakers, but at Summit I got to attend both of their sessions and spend some extra time getting to know them.
I will admit, I was bummed we were going to be in Charlotte this year, but looking back, I’m glad we were there. I still miss Seattle and can’t wait to go back next year, but there were some great advantages to Charlotte. It was easy to find dinner fairly close to the evening events and I only needed a taxi on one night. The down side was the places to eat were more expensive, and their scotch selection was dismal… Except at The Black Finn…they have Oban (pronounced “Oh-bin”).
You may have noticed that I’m an extrovert and I doesn’t sit still. This year I was asked by Tim Ford (b|t), to be on a team with Julie Koesmarno (b|t) in the Quizbowl. We paired up with Mike Donnelly (b|t). We had such a great time, even when we were down by -1700 points and Tim put me on a time out for answering a question (very) badly. The good news is, we bounced back laughing all way and ended up coming in second place which won Mike a gift card.
I also enjoyed being a Summit Buddy, which I wrote about above. I plan on doing that again next year.
I didn’t stop there either, I volunteered in the Community Zone on Friday which I think was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I wish I could hang out there all day! The community zone is a great place to hang out while you charge your electrical devices. It’s set up to encourage talking. Anything from find out where the closest User Group is in your area for engaging with Andy Warren (b|t) about mentoring programs. I even participated in a Star Wars Flash Mob at the Community Zone.
But the cherry on top of my volunteering at Summit, was moderating the Women in Technology (WIT) panel. Our WIT Virtual chapter spent months preparing for the luncheon which hosted over 750 attendees. This was all possible due to our sponsor SQLSentry. (Thank you!) The topic was Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity. This topic is near to my heart since I’ve been excluded for various reasons throughout my career and even in my childhood. The panel discussion was streamed on PASStv so there is a 60 minute recording that you can watch here. I truly enjoyed moderating the panel and hope that they will let me do it again next year.
I did actually attend sessions, and I enjoyed all of them. My favorite one was Skewed Data, Poor Cardinality Estimates, and Plans Gone Bad by Kimberly Tripp (b|t) whom I admit to now having a Geek Crush on. She spoke on my favorite topic and I can’t wait to listen to it again here.
I also took a class that was out of my comfort zone. Data Internals Deep Dive was given by my friend Bradley Ball (b|t), who incidentally is a great speaker and I am in total awe of his knowledge. I learned about extents and I watched him teach us how to decode Hex and binary data. I found the session quite fascinating.
I do want to take this time to thank all the volunteers, speakers, and sponsors that help make PASS Summit educational, fun, affordable, and just plain awesome. I also want to thank my SQL Sister, Julie Koesmarno for being an awesome roomie and friend.
|Side note: I’ve been going through Summit withdrawals all week and am eager to attend all the SQL Saturdays I can to feed my SQL Family addiction until next year’s PASS Summit.