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PASS Board of Directors Part 3

Yesterday I posted about deciding to throw in my hat as far as running for the board, today I'll add a little more about the process. The initial application is a PDF that unfortunately doesn't allow you to save the filled out from unless you have Acrobat v9 - which I don't. Didn't notice the warning message at the beginning, only at the end realized the problem. Exported to XPS via the print driver, but that only partially worked as it didn't include the text from scrollable text boxes. Ah well. Supposed to be fixed next year.

The form has some basic biographic info, and only a few questions I thought were interesting, so I'm including those and my answers here:

Please discuss why you would like to serve on the PASS Board of Directors.

I believe that PASS has focused too much on the national conference and as a result has under served the community. I believe my experience as a DBA and business leader would allow me to help PASS reorient to take a far wider interest in user groups, promote regional activities, and in general become a true professional organization.

Tell us about your accomplishments in other volunteer organizations, detail the key things you learned from these experiences.

Since restarting the Orlando group in May 2007 we have grown membership to the point that we now average 20+ attendees at meetings. As the lead of SQLSaturday I've grown a number of local speakers and volunteers that make these events possible. The biggest lessons I have learned is to give volunteers very small and doable tasks, and to use the largest possible number of volunteers to increase the sense of event ownership.

What benefits do you expect to receive as a result of your election/Board service? What benefits do you expect your company to receive?

No benefits are expected.

If elected to the PASS Board, what goal would you set to contribute to the benefit of PASS? How would you work to accomplish that goal?

I have three goals; increase the level of transparency so that members have a real view into the operation and goals of the organization; convince the board to make a greatly enhanced commitment to helping user groups and community events, and to position PASS as the central hub for all things related to  SQL Server careers. For all of those my efforts would be first to convince the board that they were worthy goals, and then to invest time and effort into making them happen.

Please describe your past involvement with PASS.

I have been a PASS member since 2000, and have been a speaker at the annual conference every year since then. I was also part of the team that started the SQL Server Standard and then subsequently partnered with PASS to make it the official PASS magazine. I've also spent a good amount of time both publicly and privately discussing ways that PASS might better serve the community.

Please describe your volunteer experience with PASS, including an example of a project you worked on, that you followed through to completion. Describe how your specific contribution has benefited the PASS organization.

The only project that I'm involved in is the ongoing research into a PASS certification. I cannot attribute any benefit to PASS from that work so far, we hope to give back a recommendation during the November summit.

As I look back over my responses they seem ok, if not exciting. One thing I omitted is that I would really like to see some enhancements made to the process of building the Summit schedule to bring in some new speakers each time, perhaps after some kind of vetting process or a demo video to assure basic speaking skills.

The question about expected benefits...maybe that's to weed out seekers? And the question about PASS projects really relates to the overall design of the organization; the bylaws force you to pay dues on the board as a minimum before running for president, and I imagine that's in place to prevent hostile takeovers. I'm not against that, but putting too much focus on volunteering for PASS or volunteering in general is a mistake in my view. Tricky to assess, you don't want to bring a lot of people that don't want to pay their dues, but more than one way to do that.

The next step is a phone interview Friday afternoon with a panel:

  • PASS Past President, Kevin Kline
  • PASS Vice President Finance, Rushabh Mehta
  • PASS Vice President Marketing, Bill Graziano
  • PASS Director, Rick Heiges
  • PASS HQ Executive Manager, Judy Christianson

I know all of them reasonably well except Judy, so it's not a cold start for me, but certainly not a done deal either. The panel approves/disapproves nominations to decide who will be final candidates for the election.

Like many things there's also a back story. In 2006 I submitted an application for the board. I had wanted to participate for several years, but we (me, Brian, Steve) had agreed to stay back so as to avoid the conflict of interest problems we had when Brian was on the board and I had a very demanding job. By the time nominations were due in 2006 I had changed jobs and we were anticipating the sale of SQLServerCentral, removing the main area of conflict (due to the SQL Server Standard) so I applied. I didn't make it through the nomination process due to lack of volunteer experience.

Can't say that I have all that much more volunteer experience this time, but it's a little more than last time - enough?

Count this is as practice towards the greater transparency I'm in favor of. Some things need to be secret, but a lot of things don't. For example, I'd like to see them post a list of all possible candidates and then note any that weren't passed on. Potentially embarrassing if not selected I guess, but it would also let the members assess the qualifications needed, see how the standards were applied, and of course watch for bias of any kind.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Anonymous on 6 November 2008

Pingback from  » SQL Server Central » Volunteer

Posted by Anonymous on 6 November 2008

Pingback from  More on Andy Warren’s PASS Board Application « Home of the Scary DBA

Posted by Steve Jones on 6 November 2008

Good luck!

Posted by K. Brian Kelley on 6 November 2008

I dunno, man. You've done a lot with SQL Saturday, both running ones yourself and getting it to spread outside of Florida. That's a lot of time and effort.

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