Posted in SQL Saturday

SQL Saturday Boston #797 Reflections

Now that SQL Saturday Boston is over (along with the rest of my insane September), I’m finally able to reflect on the whole event.

my speaker badge
My badge and its ribbons

My first SQL Saturday Boston was as an attendee when it was held out at one of the colleges in Wellesley, MA (either Wellesley College or Regis College – I don’t remember which one.) I missed one or two of the SQL Saturdays after that because I was late registering and SQL Saturday Boston fills up quickly. I managed to volunteer at SQL Saturday #500 helping in the morning at the speaker and sponsor check-in table. I had spoken at my first SQL Saturday before the SQL Saturday Boston BI 2017 but I didn’t submit my T-SQL 101 session because it was a BI Edition SQL Saturday and I didn’t think it met the criteria for a BI session.

This year, I had the honor to be on the organizing committee. It was an interesting experience to see the same event from so many different perspectives.

As an organizer…

From the organizer perspective, this year had a change of leadership. Several of us were new to the organizer side of things while some had been involved with past SQL Saturdays. So overall, it was as if we were brand new organizers. Andy Mallon, Mike Hillwig, and their team had left some big shoes for us to fill. I like to think we were able to carry through on the tradition they set of running a great event.

The one thing that you learn as an organizer is that the adage “the devil is in the details” is so completely true. There are a lot of different things that need to be taken care of, which means that there are a lot of details to pay attention to. I’m really happy that we were able to get to these and the event seemed to go through without a major hitch. I didn’t hear of any major issues that came up and we had contingencies in place in case we needed them. It ran like a well-oiled machine. Even the end of the day raffle was one of the more efficient raffles I’ve seen at a SQL Saturday.

There were a lot of people on the team that deserve kudos. The first goes to Taiob Ali, who had the unenviable position of herding cats taking over as the lead organizer for the entire SQL Saturday team. He did a fantastic job of coordinating everyone and everything. The rest of the organizers also did an amazing job – Vlad Ivanovich (who also leads NESQL, the New England SQL User Group), Robert Padilla, John Moore, Paresh Motiwala, Leona Li and Beth Wolfset. George Walters is always a big help as our Microsoft “liaison” and the team at the Microsoft office from the check-in desk to AV were also amazing, going above and beyond for our event.

sql sat 797 Organizers and volunteers
Several SQL Saturday organizers and volunteers at the end of the day. Look – we’re still smiling!

As a speaker ….

sql sat 797 session 1I really wanted to present a session at SQL Saturday Boston this year. As someone who’s starting to speak over the past year and a half, this one felt like it was the first SQL Saturday Boston for me to be a “hometown speaker”. I was floored that so many people attended my session. It was standing room only! I tend to be my worst critic so I may not be the best judge of how things went. I take a risk in this session with an open ended discussion and I’m not sure if it played out the way I saw it going in my head or at previous SQL Saturdays. I definitely have some ideas on how I can make some improvements for the future. The feedback I did get back seemed to be that people really enjoyed the session overall. But most importantly, if I haven’t said it yet, I would like say Thank You to all of those who came.


sql sat 797 wit
The fabulous WIT Panel: Amy Herold, Ginger Grant, Surbhi Pokharna, and Bhavna Mangal (l-r)

I also had the honor of moderating the WIT panel during the lunchtime sponsor sessions. Ginger Grant, Amy Herold, Bhavna Mangal, and Surbhi Pokharna were the panelists. The topic was “Being Seen and Heard in the Community.” I think we were able to have a good conversation in the limited time that we had. What meant the most to me as the moderator was the follow up conversations I had. Some of the women didn’t know about the local user groups in our community so now they know more so they can start getting involved. Someone asked me about career advice. Someone else asked if there were more data about the number of women and people of color in terms of general makeup of the community, speakers, user groups, etc. Another person asked if the panel was part of a local (in person) WIT group. To me, it says that we can do more to reach out to women and let them know there is a community here for them. It’s a reminder that we need to have conversations because not everyone is aware of the various issues that women in the field have faced and are facing still. It means a lot that so many who were there continued the conversation. And I hope we continue to keep having these discussions.

As an attendee …

Because of the other duties, I didn’t get the regular attendee experience. I was unable to attend other sessions. While I knew this would happen, it did make me a little sad because there were some first-time speakers that I wanted to support and other speakers whose sessions I always go to because I learn so much from them.

But what was special to me from just being there was seeing people I know. Some of these people I met just by seeing them at SQL Saturdays or at the user group meetings over the years. On a more personal note, I got to reconnect with a former coworker who I had not seen since she left for another job and lost touch with over the years.

The reason that this stands out is that I’d often hear people ask “Do you know other DBAs to let them know about job opportunities or other such information?” This year, it occurred to me that my answer to that question is “Yes – I do know other DBAs.” I am more connected to the database community in the area than I realized. And it’s still a pretty special group of people.

Final Thoughts….

The fall tends to be busy for me, this year more than ever. September 2018 will go down as one of the more stressful months that I have had in quite a long time. But I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of SQL Saturday Boston. I hope everyone else who was involved on any level – from an attendee to a volunteer to a sponsor to another organizer – came away with an amazing experience. There’s a reason SQL Saturdays have become so popular. In the end, I think that SQL Saturday #797 lived up to the reputation set by the other SQL Saturdays.

I look forward to seeing you all at the next SQL Saturday Boston, in whatever role brings you there!


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