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SQLSaturday #59 - Speaker Interview #5 with Karen Lopez

 SQLSaturday #59 - Speaker Interview #5 with Karen Lopez, (aka datachick)

Let’s trek up North to the great city of Toronto, Canada, to catch up with datachick, Karen Lopez, who will be coming down to NYC to present with us on November 20,2010.  If you’re wondering why she calls herself the “datachick”, well then read on and it should become pretty clear as we learn about her background.

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

KL: I’ve been a data professional for my entire career – more than 20 years of working with data architecture, modeling and database design.  While I work with many DBMSs, SQL Server has been my primary database technology.

I am fairly new to the formal SQL Server community.  I have attended two SQLSaturdays and am on plan to speak or attend many more over the next few months.  I’m very active in the social networking part of the SQL community and I love that aspect of it.  Being able to cry and laugh with other professionals who know just what I’m talking about has been very gratifying.  Plus it lets my husband off the hook more often.

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

KL: My area of expertise is on the data architecture and design side.  While I am an accidental DBA for a few production instances, my heart is in designing data structures that will lead to great data quality and integrity.  So I spend my days working with business users, modelers, and operational DBAs delivering value based on data quality. 

I also specialize in implementing industry standard data models.  These are pattern models offered by industry groups and vendors to help teams meet international needs and industry best practices.

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

KL: Fly the plane, but don’t forget that your job is all about making the business people successful. 

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

KL: Just do it.  Volunteer to help out at a local meeting, help in finding sponsors, jump on the social networks where most of the community lives, put up a flyer at work, speak at an event, etc.  You can help with 5 minutes or 5 weeks of time. The great thing about the SQL community is that everyone does something.  Do something!


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

KL:  I am doing a lot of public speaking recently.  Coming up there’s the PASS Summit in November, Enterprise Data World next year, and many SQL Saturdays, ERwin Modeling Groups, and DAMA group event scheduled over the next few months.

Right now I’m working on developing training materials related to data modeling and database design, plus materials for an industry standard data model for the retail industry.

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

KL:  I try to be a runner.  I need to just do it rather than trying.  I also love learning foreign languages.  It’s good to know how to curse in many languages, especially while running.

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?

KL:  The World, eh?  We might have some discussing to do….  Actually, I love visiting NYC.  I try to get there several times a year.  We are members of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and hope to find time to visit there this trip. 

RP:  Well, historically anyone immigrating to the US, always came through Ellis Island in NY, where the Statue of Liberty is (our upcoming interview with one the Jersey boys might argue this pointJ), and we host the United Nations here too.  And, don’t we call Time Square the crossroads of the world?  Anyway, I love Toronto, and worked 5-years for a Canadian Company, plus I love the bacon J

KL:  But the best is going to be what I assume will be the coolest speaker wear ever designed, right?

RP:  Yes, we’ve commissioned Yves San Laurent, to be individually hand-sewn couture designed speaker wear :P  Just kidding.  If my memory serves me correctly, my conversation with Melissa Demsak (aka SQLDiva), we were deciding between black and red.  It may end up being black for the speakers (hey, doesn’t black go with everything?), and red for the volunteers, since our sponsor Red Gate software is paying for our t-shirts J

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

KL:  Database Design Contentious Issues is a presentation I’ve been doing for almost 15 years.  The content changes, but the format is the same.  I give a 60 second overview of a contentious issue and then everyone votes at the front of the room about what is the “right” answer.  Then we debate varying points of view for that issue.  So it’s like all those Internet flame wars, but in person, where you get to see the troll you are debating with instead of his avatar.  I’ve even had people bring protest signs this.  It is a blast.

RP:  What is your motto?

KL:  Love Your Data ?...

RP:  Who can disagree?  Thanks, Karen for your time and answers! We truly look forward to meeting you and seeing you there!



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