1. Everyone’s an accidental DBA (or database professional) – what’s your story? How’d you become a SQLPerson?
Oh, this could be a very long story, but I’ll be as brief as I can –which is not my strong suit. I started my career at a software company back in the mid-1980s where I traveled around setting up mini-computers in tractor dealerships and training the staff how to use the new computer. Although our software had canned reports, there was always a demand for building custom reports, so I learned how to do that (but don’t remember how…). Fast forward to the mid-1990s and I was working for an insurance brokerage, and the bosses were always wanting different reports than the ones available from our system. So I learned PICK. Then I moved onto another company (tax law publishing) which used Lotus Notes databases internally, and my boss always wanted some custom query set up. So I learned how to program in Notes, which got me a job at another software company which did custom development on the Notes platform for managing corporate legal cases. We actually blended Notes data with a relational back-end and that’s where I started getting more into SQL queries. By this point (late-1990s), I had a fairly lengthy and successful track record with figuring things out, especially how to get data out of computers to meet specific needs on an ad hoc basis. Then my boss added a new person to my staff as a novice project manager, and I was told to get her up-to-speed on project management skills. So I went searching on the Internet for resources and stumbled upon a book called “The Multidimensional Manager” and that’s how I discovered business intelligence. It was purely accidental. When I read the book (put out as a marketing piece by Cognos, a BI company), I thought cubes were something worth investigating and realized BI was an official name for the work I’d been doing most of my career. The rest, as they say, is history. I was able to convince my company that we needed to do some R&D around BI and I was able to head up a new department which started as a department of one – me, and added Scott Cameron to my team shortly thereafter. The year was 1999 and we had venture capital funds to spend on R&D, including a proof of concept for our first data warehouse. Well, that company didn’t last, but it did launch our respective careers in BI. Scott and I moved on together to two other companies as BI consultants and trainers. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute to a book on BI while working for Aspirity (later acquired by Hitachi Consulting) and have since published several articles and books on my own or as a co-author. I started my own consulting firm in 2006, Data Inspirations. Scott later authored the Analysis Services 2008 Step by Step book and still works for Hitachi Consulting.
2. What’s your favorite part of your current gig?
My favorite part is that I have several current gigs! I get to be involved in different activities all the time – teaching, writing, solving problems. Every day is different and keeps me on my toes. And no matter how much I think I know something about a particular technology, I always get to learn something new about it. Each of my customers has different requirements and uses BI in completely different ways, so I’m always in discovery mode.
3. Complete this sentence: “If I could do anything else, I would…”
Be an astrophysicist. I am fascinated by space, the universe, and everything in it. J
4. Complete this sentence: “When I’m not working I enjoy…”
… well, “not working” is not a common state. I enjoy what I do. But on the rare occasions when I do have free time, I enjoy creative activities – drawing, needlework, photography. I also like road trips and exploring wilderness.
5. Complete this sentence: “I think the coolest thing in technology today is…”
the devices that make technology accessible to non-technical people and also I think having access to all kinds of incredible information on the Internet is pretty cool too. I’m grateful that I’ll be able to go live in a remote part of Alaska but stay connected to customers and community through technology.
6. Complete this sentence: “I look forward to the day when I can use technology to…”
Hmm, I use it for so much already… what else could I want it to do?
7. Share something different about yourself. (Remember, it’s a family blog!)
I’m a closet genealogist. I haven’t had time since starting my own business, but once upon a time, I used to take advantage of my travels to do my genealogy research. Those efforts also led me to get a degree in history as I wanted to learn WHY people wound up in different places, rather than just figure out who and where they were. I’ve gone traipsing through cemeteries in all kinds of weather and explored all kinds of dusty materials in libraries around the country. I’ve discovered lots of dead ends and unraveled several mysteries. Technology has definitely made this hobby a lot easier, and a lot more information is now available on the Internet than there was when I started. If only I had more time!
Originally published .