Well, I have thrown my hat in the ring and made it to the candidate list. I'm standing for election to the Board and am in contention for the EMEA or Open seat. So, this post serves two purposes. The first being that I would like to let you know why I am standing in this election. Along with some of the things that I would like to help PASS and the Data Platform community achieve. As well as hopefully providing some reason to go and cast a vote if you are a PASS member.
Please note, the content of this post are my personal views based on my experiences.
First and foremost, I have been vocal in the past about the direction of PASS and how it can help the Data Platform community. This was based on a combination of my experiences as a member, volunteer and speaker. As well as the feedback I have had from local group members and conference attendees. There are many areas that I would like to help influence, however the three key overarching areas are discussed below.
One of the key areas that I feel that can be improved is the way in which PASS interacts with the Data Platform community outside of North America. There is still a heavy bias towards North America, and this is understandable. PASS was borne out of the Data Platform community in the US and Canada, and the community there is very mature. However, if PASS is to continue to grow and help members be ready for the challenges ahead. We need to look at understanding the different elements of the community that exist around the world. IT is a global industry, no two of which are identical and have different requirements. Understanding these differences and needs is key to helping the Data Platform community in these areas to grow.
So, what does this look like? Initially I would say that while it is an EMEA perspective that I would be looking to bring. I would also be looking to identify and work with community members globally. With regards to the things that can help with the global reach, I think that the Virtual Groups will play a key role. These groups can deliver fantastic content globally. But to do it effectively this needs to be proactively delivered at the right time for the audience. Either as a recording or live, scheduling this at a time that works makes the content easier to consume. This also has the benefit of bringing more members to the fold, and highlighting that there are other aspects to PASS.
PASS Summit is a key event in the PASS calendar, with a large quantity of great content and the chance to network with peers. However, it is not easy to get to for those outside of North America. We need to find a way to let members around the world benefit from this event. This is where technology can help, providing virtual access to a subset of the sessions or tracks would give the chance for many more to benefit from this event. Live streaming, as well as recording and time-shifting the content would provide real value. Finding a way to let those watching live to ask questions of the speakers and interact with the sessions would be key.
With regards to the networking and interacting with other attendees, speakers, and the Microsoft Clinic. This is where telepresence solutions could help. A good example to evaluate would be telepresence robots. These were used for a small number of attendees at Microsoft Ignite in 2016.
In addition to this, there is potential scope for adding PASS run conferences in areas outside of the US. Looking to complement the vibrant SQL Saturday community that has been built up over the years. While this might not be the right approach for Europe, given the range of independent conferences that provide value to the community already. In areas like Australia, New Zealand, Asia I think there is potential. Where there is already an established community, options around partnering or sponsoring in some form could be evaluated. Providing a platform for advertising PASS to a broader community.
Finally, I think that expanding the range of content is key to providing value to members. The Data Platform ecosystem is advancing rapidly, as well as becoming far broader. The rise of DevOps as an operating model means that incorporating developer and cloud content into events is going to be key. Providing the ability for members to cross-skill or just gain an appreciation for how another area functions is important. It should be the mission for PASS to ensure that its members can be at the forefront of the Data Platform industry. Allowing them to have the skills needed to advance their careers as they want.
While this is primarily technology driven, it is also vital that there is a platform for career development and soft-skill content. This should be done with a view to ensuring that there is a balance. There will always be a need for core DBA, Developer, and BI content that helps people today.
While there are several ‘special interest’ groups such as Women In Technology (WIT) that are working hard to help change the industry and community. I feel that a greater focus needs to be placed on engaging with the entire membership to help expand mindsets and remove intolerance, inappropriate behaviour, and discrimination. Nick Harshbarger wrote an interesting post back in 2015, it is an interesting ready and highlights the challenges that our community still faces.
Everyone should stand for equality of opportunity, appreciation for diversity, and tolerance in the community and workplace. It is very often the same small pool of people delivering this message. By having everyone deliver the messaging, this helps drive home that everyone has the same value to the community and industry. That every person has something to contribute.
One of the key elements in addressing diversity issues is recognising that we are all Data Platform professionals, irrespective. I have spoken to several people about is that they feel isolated when they are given a label, such as “You’re X in technology”. They want to let their ability speak for itself and be judged on that and that alone. Finding a way to celebrate this but without making people feel pressurised is important. The last thing we want is to make someone feel isolated when we want them to be an active part of our community.
So, why vote. It is important that we hear the voice of the community. The more people that vote the clearer we can understand what the community is looking for. There are many candidates that are available to vote for, this can be found here. You can see each candidates application, as well as their Bio and why they are standing. It is a strong field this year, with some great candidates that you can cast your votes for.
I would say please look at those standing, even if you don't vote for me it is still important that you can have your voice heard. Details on how to go and vote can be found here.
Thanks for your time.