Recently Paul Randal (twitter, blog) instigated another meme in the SQL Server community – What three events brought you here. If you’re not familiar with memes, I’ve explained them in another post entitled “What’s Your Biggest Weakness?” And as I mentioned in that post, I love reading memes because it really helps you feel like you’re getting to know others in the SQL community. Technical articles and forum postings help you to learn more about technology; memes help you to learn more about a person. And even though the SQL Community is focused on SQL Server, at its core is people.
So what brought me to this point in my career? I’m glad you asked.
The Apple IIc
The first event that started me down this journey was when my childhood friend and neighbor got an Apple IIc. He had a few games for it but otherwise really didn’t know what to do with it. I was in the latter part of middle school at the time and spent most every rainy day at his house trying to figure out what we could do with this new “thing”.
I eventually discovered that I could view and even changed the source code for some of the basic games. For example, in a horse racing game, I modified it so that I could alway tell before each race which horse would come in first. I also started creating some primitive “choose your own adventure” games.
Not long after noticing my interest in computers, my parents bout me an IBM PC Clone from a company called Leading Edge. According to the salesman, it was powerful enough to run a small business and it should last me a long, long time. About a year later, I upgraded the RAM from 256kb to 512kb by removing a bunch of little individual chips from a breadboard and replacing them with others. It didn’t have hard drive.
I bought and studied a book on GWBasic and started writing programs. I started with simple things like a check book balancing program (boring!) and the like. The pentacle of that era was one that would play Mastermind with me.
The future Mrs. Webb
After high school, I went to college to study Electrical Engineering and then went on to get an M.B.A. It was during that time that I met the wonderful young woman that would eventually become my wife. The only issue was that she transferred from Auburn University to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. So after I graduated, I pursued her, looking for most any job I could find in the Middle Tennessee Area.
I landed one working for a pharmacy software company vendor. My job was to help develop a digital communications package that would transfer patient and sales information from stores to headquarters and then send formulary information from headquarters to stores . It was my first real experience with databases and I liked it.
A Taste of Consulting
Just a couple of short years after starting work for the pharmacy software company, my direct boss at the time left the company and started consulting for other companies in the pharmacy software field. It didn’t take long for him to get so busy that he needed some help. He called me and I started doing work on the side for him. Before long, that turned into a full time job for me.
Over the next few years I helped him to build a successful consulting business from the ground up. I learned invaluable lessons about working with clients, writing proposals, designing software, and the like. It was then that I decided to strike out on my own. I thought that if I could help him to build a successful consulting company, I could do it again for myself. So, with the support of my wife, I left and started WebbTech Solutions. That was 14 years ago and I haven’t regretted it at all.
In the year 2000, I was leading the Nashville SQL Server User Group and I heard about this new association called the Professional Association for SQL Server. Kevin Kline (twitter, blog), then the Vice President of Marketing for PASS, came to speak at our local group and really talked high of the organization.
So our group became an Official Chapter for PASS just one year after its inception. I went to my first PASS conference in San Francisco where I met Brian Knight (twitter, blog). He recruited me to be the Chapter Manager and I was eventually appointed to the Board to fill a vacancy.
I continued volunteering for PASS and was elected several more times to the Board, eventually serving as the Vice President of Marketing and Executive Vice President of Finance. During my time there I met many, many great people and a multitude of doors were opened for me, too many to recount here.
It’s all about people
As I think back over the events and milestones that have led me to this point in my career, I realize more than ever before that it really is all about people. The people you meet, the people you help, and the people that help you along the way.
So, what about you? How did you get to where you are right now? What events, either planned or coincidental got you to where you are? I’d like to hear about them.