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TSQL Tuesday #42 - The Long and Winding Road...

This month’s rendition of T-SQL Tuesday - #42, is hosted by  SQL MVP, Wendy Pastrick (blog|twitter) ,  who maintains her blog about Life, The Universe and SQLServer.  The WendyVerse blog is a collection of her musings on “anything that comes to mind today” and is the world according to Wendy (you can use that, Wendy :-)   Today, she invites us all to share what I guess is our own “Long and Winding Road”, on how we got from point A to B on our career path.

More accurately, Wendy tells us that “we all experience change in our work lives. Maybe you have a new job or a new role at your company. Maybe you're just getting started and you have a road map to success in mind. Whatever it is, please share it….”  This invitation to introspection is quite interesting, so I will briefly share my rocky road to where I am today, as my adventure still continues....

So, according to my LinkedIN profile, I started out with a Political Science degree, on my way to law school, or so I thought.  I worked early on in a law firm, Arbitration, US Court of International Trade, and then as a techie in legal software company.  In the US Court, I worked in the data dinosaur department, where federal standards were way behind, and paper was still the order of the day.  Well, I couldn’t stand that, so I automated much of it, and also created some automated Excel spreadsheets (via VBA) for the finance department.

I then ended up in a start-up software company, a subsidiary of a document management firm, for legal case tracking software.  Here I created and built up an entire help desk operation from scratch.  Such software ran on backend platforms of Sybase, Oracle and of course, SQL Server (v.6.5).  The software engineers grew tired of having to explain how to deploy it to the client management folks, so the young absorbent sponge that was me, became the intermediary here.  I was able to help the clientele, as well as the folks who were supposed to know it front and backwards.  That was my first real immersion into the RDMS world, and exposure to SQL Server.

I guess at the dawn of the client-server world, I thought there was more creative and entrepreneurial opportunity in the technology world.  Plus, by then, I had my share of interaction with lawyers, and well, let’s just say my opinion changed about pursuing a career in law.

I was recruited by a vendor of accounting software that only deployed on SQL Server.  It was a consulting firm, where I learned the ins and outs of consulting; only I was a F/T employee, and basically a billable bobby for the powers that be.  However, I learned my craft here, and was a valuable learning experience.  After that, I navigated the corporate world of banking & finance, working as a team DBA and finally lead DBA.  Citing my political science background, it doesn’t really prepare you for corporate politics. 

Technology folks like us want to know what we need to do, when it’s needed, and then go and do it.  But, as many of you know, it’s not that simple.  As part of your trade and integration in such a corporate structure, you must learn this “game” in order to survive as DBA.

The good news is, if you realize the power that you have as the chosen one who is the guardian of the company’s data, protector and administrator of the database domain, you can do quite well in that environment. 

Here’s a little history about the world’s first purveyor of data collection.  Soviet Dictator Josef Stalin was a very shrewd manipulator. Lenin had entrusted him with several posts that were seemingly of little importance; General Secretary of the Party for example.

Stalin used this post to control who was in - or out of the Party. Stalin then ensured that 'his' people were loyal to him because they wanted to keep their jobs - he did this by collecting information and data about everyone in the Party. 

Doesn’t that sound like path of a DBA?  Ok, I know that’s a stretch, but I’m making a point.  DBA’s have come a long way from the closet/cubicle to the valued front facing employee whose input the company cannot do without.  In addition, if you can turn your technology into a billable bucket, where your DBA services are charged back to the business unit requesting them, your time, value and appreciation will go up immensely! 

Anyway, I digress. So, during my corporate travels, the DBA team seemed always the last to know when an issue occurred, and we were at the mercy of an unorganized network operations team and their preferred monitoring tools.  That’s when I started rolling my own, and came up with the first web-based SQL Server monitoring and alert tool.  It was light, sleek, and dba-friendly, and often identified an issue, before the NOC team even knew about it.  This little invention of mine, later became known as,  pause, SQLCentric, the award-winning monitoring and alert system.  By coming up with this simple tool, I made my foray into the business side of SQL Server, with my new software.

I have a lot of people to thank for their time, advice, advertising and awesome expertise when I first started out.  Among those are Brian Knight, Steve Jones, Andy Warren (SQLServerCentral.com), Brad McGehee (then owner of SQL-Server-Performance.com, and Stephen Wynkoop of SSWUG.org, who of course were the early pioneers in SQL Server community web-sites, and at the advent of early social media marketing.

So fast forward in time, and I get myself involved in a growing community of like-minded SQL Server Database professionals and association of geeks :-), which we all know comprises of #sqlfamily.  On my quest to sell software licenses and services, I started getting active in SQL Community, blogging, helping out with local SQL Server events and SQLSaturdays.  I thank Melissa Demsak, who let me get involved with the NJ SQL Server User Group, and that was an opening I took off and ran with. (That was actually my early presentation of Who Did it and Ran, a talk on database forensics.:-) 

A few years back, I started moving away from working for THE MAN, and started consulting.  I kept up with SQL Community, honed my skills and expertise, started presenting, and well, the rest is history.  Of course, this is a story that still is in progress, fraught with challenges, ups and downs, and hard-work.

Having become an independent consulting, as well as a technopreneur, there is no way back to the days of 9-5 climbing the corporate ladder.  In fact, some of the most insightful and enjoyable articles on consulting on SQL Server that I’ve read, are those by Brent Ozar.   So, if you’re considering becoming a consultant, then you definitely need to follow Brent’s blog.  One I recently read is “Every Consultant Needs Three Things” If you GOOGLE “Brent Ozar consulting”, all his consultant related blogs will come up.  Indeed, it’s been a long and winding road, but one that still is laden with opportunity and meeting SQLFamily on the way.  That is why I continue on this journey.   I hope my story inspires those who are starting out...

Thanks, Wendy for hosting!

And now the obligatory oratory for those who would like to participate in this TSQL Tuesday blog party, as you know, started by Adam Machanic (@AdamMachanic), royalties included :-)

Rules of the Road (not the Long Winding One :-)

  • Your post must be published between 00:00 GMT Tuesday May 14, 2013 and 00:00 GMT Wednesday May 15, 2013.
  • Your post must contain the T-SQL Tuesday logo at the top (see above) and the image must link back to this blog post.
  • Trackbacks should work, but if not please put a link to your post in the comments section so everyone can see your contribution!

Don't forget  to tweet your #tsql2sday hashtag on Twitter, too.

You can follow me on twitter @Pearlknows and check out my website at http://www.pearlknows.com



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