SQLSaturday#59 Special Interview with Melissa Demcsak, aka SQLDiva
Only two days left until our super SQLSaturday#59 event. Hope all is well with our speakers, sponsors, volunteers and attendees! I wish everyone coming in from out of town a safe trip (by air or by road), and look forward to finally meeting you all there! The weather forecast calls for a beautiful sunny day and mild temperatures at 55 F degrees – not bad for the end of November!
If you are planning to attend, please visit the SQLSaturday59 event home for details, and logistics.
Here is the schedule again. http://www.sqlsaturday.com/59/schedule.aspx
We are expecting over 350+ folks (having registered 500), so plan to be early.
As we conclude our speaker interview series, we must stop and think about how truly dedicated career-minded professionals volunteer their personal time and energies to coordinating, planning, and making an event like our upcoming SQLSaturday happen. Without community leaders like Melissa Demcsak, aka SQLDiva, such extraordinary events and user groups could not be possible. Many of these user group events are local and small (she also runs the NJ SQL User Group), not more than 80 or so folks that showing up. But, when you take SQLSaturday, and put it in a large venue in the heart of NYC, you know that a lot of hard work, sweat and tears goes into bringing such a large event to fruition, and that folks all over take notice. I was privileged to have met her last year when I did a presentation for the NJ User group, and offered my help since then for the NYC events. Having been particularly involved in this latest SQLSaturday#59 planning and coordination, I was pleasantly surprised by the organization and professionalism of Melissa and the other volunteers in pulling it off. Baptized by fire from the last SQLSaturday in NYC, she has learned a lot, and this one seemed to come together very smoothly. So, let’s give Melissa well-deserved praise and appreciation, and don’t forget to say hello and thank you, when you see her this Saturday!
In the meanwhile, please enjoy my final interview and discussion with SQLDiva!
RP: Please tell us a little about your background and your career.
SQLDiva: I started in IT ‘by accident’ back in the late 80’s by being hired into an entry-level position at a large insurance company. The company was eager to hire and train mainframe quality assurance testers. I spent many hours reading specs and walking through Cobol code to verify that system data fields were populated validly. In the late 90’s, I attended additional training in Client Server technology and was immediately enamored with databases and data (coincidence?). I worked my way into my first database development job in 1998 and started working on Data Warehouses, Olap and Reporting in SQL Server7.0. I’ve worked for many companies since then and have continued on to specialize in Financial Business Intelligence Solutions as a SQL Architect. I enjoy working with both business and technical folks to enable companies to get the most value from their data.
RP: How did you learn about the SQL Server community?
SQLDiva: I attended several conferences between 2000 and 2005 and was approached by several folks from PASS (www.sqlpass.org) and SWWUG (www.swwug.org). These folks were very enthusiastic about the SQL Server Community and encouraged me to join my local user group.
RP: Tell us about the New Jersey SQL Server User Group
SQLDiva: After finding that there wasn’t a user group in NJ, PASS encouraged me to start a chapter and guided me through the process. NJSQL was founded in 2006 with the encouragement of many local technical folks along with a promise of a meeting venue from SetFocus (www.setfocus.com). My goal was to grow the local SQL Community and to provide free SQL training to all that desired it. The focus of the group is data tier development which allows us to focus on a broad range of SQL topics. After a few years of success, we added one or two Saturday events per year with one to four speakers (80 attendees). We found that Saturday events encouraged more people to participate in the community, but our community reach was limited to venue size. For more details about the group, see www.njsql.org.
RP: What other professional organizations do you volunteer on?
SQLDiva: After attending my first PASS Summit in 2006, I applied and was accepted to volunteer on the Business Intelligence Program Committee that selects community speakers for the PASS Summit. This position has allowed me to learn more about PASS and to network with many other SQL Professionals across the US (and the world) for the last four years. Most recently, I took on an additional role as one of the US North East Regional Mentors for PASS.
In June, with sponsorship from Microsoft, I kicked off the New Jersey Women in Technology Group. We are hoping to grow membership to enable support of local youth programs that encourage kids to consider technology as their future career.
RP: Why do you Volunteer?
SQLDiva: Bottom Line: The more you give the more you get. If I’m going to spend my time doing something, I plan on being totally involved. I’ve learned more about myself, my family, people, networking, business world, leadership skills and technology than I could have ever imagined by volunteering.
RP: As I see the question all the time, what do you tell folks who want to get more involved in the SQL Community?
SQLDiva: Don’t be shy, ask questions. Take the time to learn more about your local user group and it’s current needs. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the user group leader at a meeting, email them. They will find something for you to do, trust me!!
RP: What are some of your other interests, hobbies, etc. when you’re not being a DBA/Engineer/BI professional?
I have been a working parent throughout my career. I encourage other working parents to create a career that allows them to balance their personal, family and career needs. As an example, working in the area of Business Intelligence vs. a role as a traditional production-support DBA has allowed me to have more flexibility. Off-hours when I’m not with my family, I can be found enjoying my newest passion Exercise!!
RP: What are 3 current favorite features in SQL Server/Office?
SQLDiva: #1: PowerPivot – Once this adopted widely, this will change Excel Spreadmartville forever!!
#2: SQL Azure – I can’t wait for Business Intelligence in the sky in future versions. Wow, I thought accessing data via a cassette tape on my hand-me-down TRS-80 was cool.
#3: Geospatial Capabilities – Just give a user a map and they will find the data they need!!
RP: What should we look for at SQL Saturday #59?
SQLDiva: Lots of SQL Learning, Food and 300+ Friends!! The day kicks off at 8am with a Women In Technology Coffee Chat featuring Karen Lopez (@datachick) and a SQL Wake-up session with Steve Jones (@way0utwest). These sessions are not to be missed!! There will be 30 crazy cool SQL taught by many talented speakers. To help attendees learn more about networking at IT events, we are featuring a special session with Don Gabor. If you need assistance during the day, just find a volunteer in a red Red-Gate T-shirt!! Come with a hearty appetite to learn more about SQL Server!!
Thank you, Melissa! We are finally here! Excellent work!