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SQLSaturday#59 Interview Series Continues...with Steve Jones

 SQLSaturday#59 Speaker Interview Series #2

Yesterday, on the PearlKnows Blog, I kicked off the SQLSaturday#59 Speaker Interview Series, with a bit of humorous entertainment (as least I hope so) , by interviewing myself, Robert Pearl, as I will be one of the speakers there.  We also posted our amazing line up of speakers, which went out as well yesterday.

Today, we continue with our SQLSaturday#59 Speaker Interview Series, with none other than SQLServerCentral’s own Steve Jones.   If you’re connected to the Internet, on this site, and a SQL Server professional, then there’s no need for introductions.  We are delighted to have Steve come out East to the “City” of all cities, NYC, and present at our event.   Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions:

RP: Since you are a co-founder of SQLSaturday, tell us how you guys originally formed the event.  Did you have any idea that it would take off the way it did?  Now having SQLSaturdays all across the nation in so many cities?

SJ: Similar to SQLServerCental, we knew that we had a good idea, but never expected it to succeed to this level. Our initial focus was to reach out to the 80-90% of IT folks that never get the chance to attend a conference like TechEd or the PASS Summit. We wanted to get them some concentrated training as well as do some marketing for our training business in Orlando, SQL Share. We weren’t sure that we could do 12 events a year, but we hoped that we could and reach more people.

After the second year, we found that there was a tremendous amount of interest from people attending events for more, and that we had an amazing community of leaders that were willing to take on the work of organizing an event. At that point we could see that this would be a real movement that could get to 40-50 events or more a year. However it became a bit of a time sink, and we looked to bequeath the framework to PASS as we felt SQL Saturday was a community framework and very much in line with PASS’ mission of helping SQL Server professionals.

I am constantly amazed by how excited people are at the various events that I’ve attended, and just how well the framework helps our community leaders build a great event. I hope that it continues to grow and evolve over time. I look forward to new events in new cities in 2011.

RP: Please tell us a little about yourself, your background, your career and your involvement in the SQL Community.

SJ: I started working with databases nearly twenty years ago as an intern while in graduate school. I had my first exposure to SQL Server and liked the product. After being a developer and DBA for a decade, I decided to share my knowledge by writing articles for various publishing outlets. That led to the founding of SQLServerCentral, which is where I work today. Over the years, I’ve slowly become more of a SQL community advocate than a DBA, and I try to educate, interest, and help people work with the product and become better at their jobs.

RP: What is your area of expertise?  How did you become a DBA/SQL Professional?

SJ:  My main SQL Server knowledge, since I’m not sure I’d call it expertise, is in managing production environments. I have had the chance to manage large and small environments, and found that standard, consistent processes allowed a very small team to maintain a stable environment of hundreds, or even thousands, of instances. I fell into this role, getting responsibility for the administration of a SQL Server instance while managing a large Novell network. I enjoyed it, learned all I could, and began to look for other SQL Server jobs.


RP: What advice would you give your fellow colleagues who are trying to become more senior professionals?

SJ:  Becoming experienced, and worthy of the senior role takes time. I would urge people to continue to learn more, deepening their knowledge in the areas that they are either interested in, or use heavily for their jobs. It’s important as you progress in your career that you gain a near year of experience each year, learning and trying different skills. Or even learning even more about some skill you have. For example, if you know how to perform backups with SSMS, learn how to do it in T-SQL. You can learn more about how to recover beyond a full backup. Learn what holes, risks, issues there are in your systems. Build more robust, or flexible strategies for ensuring you will not lose data.

As you gain experience across years, you’ll become a senior person. It’s important that you get 10 different years of experience, not 1 year of experience 10 times. That’s something that seems to plague people in IT.

RP: As I see the question all the time, what do you tell folks who want to get more involved in the SQL Community?

SJ:  My presentation on The Modern Resume gives you a number of ideas both for helping build your brand, but also how you can help in the community. I would encourage people to interact with others in new ways. Go to user groups, contact people through social networking tools, or even just post in forums or comment on blogs. Being involved in a community means some small level of giving back. Many of the ideas on my Modern Resume blog can be used to give back to the community.

RP: What are 3 of your favorite features in SQL Server 2008/R2?

SJ: Streaminsight is one of my favorite features. We are besieged by so much new data, from so many sources, that I think this is one of the great ways to capture information out of a stream of data without necessarily persisting all the raw data in a database.

I also really like Powerpivot. It’s a great tool for prototyping BI type applications, and also for allowing end users to build their own reports or analysis without eating up development time. There is still a lot of work to do here for IT folks in ensuring data quality and freshness, as well as security, but this is a great tool for allowing people to work with the data we store.

I think  the idea of Master Data Services is a good one. This is a hard concept to explain to people and get them to buy into, and I’m not sure this is a great implementation, but the idea of having a master data location is a good one. I am looking forward to seeing this evolve.

RP: What are you working on currently?  (Projects, Books/Articles, Speaking circuit, etc.)

SJ: Most of my time is spent keeping up with what is happening in the SQL Server community, and of course, writing my daily editorial at SQLServerCentral. I  have been trying to get out and speak more, and SQL Saturday #59 will be my seventh SQL Saturday in 2010. I am looking forward to attending a few more events in 2011, though no schedule is set. I am also working on trying to deliver training in a few new ways, so look for something to be announced in the next few months.

RP: What are some of your other interests, hobbies, etc. when you’re not being a DBA/Engineer/BI professional?

SJ: I am an avid reader, having finished over 60 books this year. I also run every day, having a streak going of over 2 years. In my spare time, I help my kids with Boy and Girl Scouts, attend karate with my son, and enjoy snowboarding in the winter and baseball in the summer.

RP: What are you looking forward to, or, what excites you the most about presenting at our SQLSaturday event in the capital of the world, NYC?

SJ: New York is such an exciting place. Every time I go to “The City” it’s an adventure, and I look forward to it. I plan to get there early enough for a run around Central park at some point, and then catching up with some of the people I know in the area like Mr. Pearl and Michael Coles.

RP: Give us a preview of the topic and session you have planned for us at SQLSaturday#59

SJ: This is a session that I’ve given at a number of user groups and SQL Saturday events over the last few years. I have found that in the last decade, every open position typically spawns dozens, if not hundreds of resumes. It becomes hard for job applicants to stand out from the crowd. In my presentation, I offer you some practical tips about how to build a more modern resume, something that includes more than just the jobs you’ve held and skills you’ve learned. I have some ideas that help you catch the eye of management and HR, and help you get a the job you want, or keep the job you have.

RP: Anything that you would like to add?

SJ: Thanks to the New York and New Jersey SQL Server community for inviting me and giving me the chance to attend a SQL Saturday event in New York. I’m looking forward to it.

       RP:  Many thanks again, Steve!



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