Recently I was asked by a community member, “What value did I bring to the PASS Board during my tenure? and I thought I should respond to this in public.
Keeping PASS Members first and be the “Different” voice on the PASS Board.
Shouldn’t all of them do it as a Director of PASS.?
Yes and No. Many times, as leaders of an organization, you have to make tough choices, you are in a tough spot and you have a small amount of time to make a decision and move on. It is hard to get input from the community on confidential scenarios and understand the impact of such. The net result is that you make a decision and hope that it resonates.
Note- these are all done with good intent (nobody is trying to intentionally hurt the community) – but not so ideal outcome. Not all these decisions are not liked by the membership, some hurt – some softly and some hard.
I thought I would go through some of the Board Minutes for all the Board meetings that I attended and highlight the ones where I was a different voice on the Board. Note – I attended 22 out of 23 Board meetings in my tenure so far between Jan 2013 and Sep 2014.
Please keep in mind that the Board Minutes capture the summary but does not capture the emotions, sentiment , level of depth of the discussion and the time it took in the meeting. So I will leave it to the reader to think through it.
SQLRally in North America
This discussion was on my first Board meeting. Somehow the meeting notes don’t reflect my stance. I was not very happy with the decision to not pursue SQLRally in North America. I have personally run SQLRally in Dallas and so has Andy Warren run it in Orlando. Both events were profitable, not by a large margin, but accomplished the SQLRally goals and still remained in black. While there were some early discussions that seemed to indicate SQLRally Dallas was not profitable, that is however not true.
It accomplished many goals.
- Felt that it was Summit on wheels. For those members who would not be able to travel to Summit locations, this was an opportunity to attend a Summit like event closer to them.
- Growth of speakers – This was a great opportunity to foster future speakers. In fact one of the goals was to grow the pre-con speaker pool.
- It was a great Summit evangelizing tool. People who attended SQLRally and never attended PASS Summit got a feel for what PASS Summit would be on a different scale. The hope was that they would go back and convince their boss as to why they need to go to PASS Summit the following year. In my opinion, we lost a great PASS Summit growth driving tool in this process.
Today, many of the larger SQLSaturdays accomplish this but somehow a paid event resonates better in many large organizations and there is a level of seriousness attributed to such paid training.
BA conference 2014 goals
The original budget for BAC 2014 had a staggering 40% growth target. I was the first to recognize how unrealistic such a target was in a market that we are quite honestly struggling to capture. After my escalation of the issue, I got others to support it and the targets were revised. If that was not done, BAC 2014 would have been deep in the RED which could have meant that some other programs that affect members would have taken a hit.
Exec-Co elections 2013
This was also not captured in any of the meeting notes, but I requested changes to the Exec-Co elections process where candidates shared their vision and goals to the Board prior to the election. This helped people think about the candidates and make more thoughtful decisions about their choice. The Directors who vote the Exec-Co represent the membership and the community that voted them. It was imperative that those Directors who are voting have full knowledge of the vision and goals of those running for the Exec-Co.
I asked for a more transparency in the process where this information is shared upfront and the Board of Directors can think about various candidates before the actual elections. My hope is that before the next Exec-Co elections, this process is formalized and these documents are actually shared with the community and its membership.
It would be great if someday the community can vote for the President of PASS. This however would be a major change to the process and hence that one on my “dream list”.
Serving on the Nomcom in 2013
This was also not captured in any meeting minutes but I served on the Nomcom in 2013 as the Board representative. This was the first election with a Regional Seat on the PASS Board. I worked hard with various Nomcom members to make sure that we get the process done right for having a Regional Seat and making sure the application process and interview process reflected this change and the playing field was as level as possible for candidates from different regions.
Moving Summit out of Seattle:
I voted NO to Seattle for year 2017
While, I like the idea of Summit @ Seattle most of the time, every now and then the opportunity to move presents itself due to – no so ideal dates in Seattle, prices and venue availability . One such opportunity was in 2017 where the price difference was not dramatic between Seattle and Denver and the dates in Seattle were over the Halloween week versus a Sep date in Denver. I felt it was a perfect opportunity to move. We have had Summit in Denver before, so logistics were fairly known. We have a strong SQL community there to help with the local knowhow. Denver has one of the largest airports in the US which meant direct flights from international destinations etc.
It was a pretty good opportunity to move IMHO and I voted NO to Seattle for 2017. Note – I did vote YES – for Seattle in 2018 as things lined up much better in Seattle for 2018 over any other location.
Board Members presenting Precons
The minutes summary captured that I did not have enough time to research this in full (as it was shared 2 hours before the Board meeting) and I was busy amidst a Production issue which I am sure most of you will relate to. I probably spoke the most about this issue on that Board call. I was concerned about the perception in the community of Board Member (an Exec) making money off pre-con. I hope to make this an agenda for discussion at a future in-person Board meeting for further discussion and how this should be handled in the future. This might also warrant a by-law change/tweak which is always a long process.
BAC – No open call for speakers
Recently it was announced that there will no open call for speakers for BAC.
I was very concerned that an organization whose purpose is to serve the Data Professional community denies its Community the opportunity to submit sessions to speak at one of its premier conferences – BAC.
While, I completely agree with the strategy of having invited speakers to get the right content mix but I would have liked for us to at least have 10-20%of sessions submitted by the community and speak. The Program Committee which we trust immensely could have set the bar high and provided specific guidance on what kinds of content they expect and we could have still accomplished what we needed to do.
While the minutes of this meeting have not been published yet, Adam Jorgensen (Governance Lead and Exec Co) has confirmed to me that my concern was noted. I was the only Board member to have had this concern.
I love this community very much. It has helped me grow personally and professionally and I sincerely see this as a way to give back to the community. Nothing else PERIOD !