Interview With PASS Summit 2012 Speaker - Karen Lopez

This is the third in a series of interviews with speakers leading up to the 2012 PASS Summit which will be held in Seattle from November 6th - 9th.  This interview is with SQL Server MVP Karen Lopez.

Tell us about yourself
I’m a Senior Project Manager and Architect at InfoAdvisors.  I specialize in all things data.  I want you to Love Your Data. 

Twitter: @datachick

Tell us your favorite thing about your PASS session(s)

I love talking with people about data modeling and database design, especially in the SQL Server crowd, were the vast majority of people tend to be operational, not development.  So in my first session on Database Design Throwdown, I get to debate with a DBA about the nuances of issues in design.  In my other session on Data Model Driven Development, I get to talk about how modeling can help improve the quality of designs and free up time for production and operational people to do more good stuff.

Tell us about your first time at PASS Summit

That was in 2010.  I was new not only to the Summit, but also the PASS community.  I had been active in the online community for a while, so meeting hundreds of people I already knew was incredible.  My impression of the Summit was that 1) there’s too much to see and do 2) there are too many people to meet and engage and 3) those two “problems” were amazing ones to have.

What advice do you have for PASS Summit First Timers?

Don’t think that the Summit ends with the last session every day.  Go to the after events and/or find other people to socialize with in the evenings and in the morning.  Things are going on around the clock.  The best thing about attending an in-person event is the fact that you can spend time with people in the real world.

Feel free to change sessions if you find the session you are in doesn’t meet your needs or the speaker is being overly “salesy” PASS does a wonderful job keeping that to a minimum, which is great.  I also encourage people to attend sessions outside their area of expertise.  Learning something new about SQL Server is one of the best things about being in such a diverse environment.   There are so many options available in the program.

What are your can't-miss PASS sessions?

I’ll be blogging about this soon, but in summary, I tend to pick speakers over topics.  I find the value I get out of hearing a great speaker present is worth learning a few new things, too. 

Besides sessions, what's on your must-do list at Summit?

Meeting people.  Sharing stories, pain points, and successes.  My favourite part.

Besides that, I love chatting with the vendors at the Summit.  I’m a strong advocate of vendors being part of our community.  One of my Splendid Truths about tools is that they impact our decisions and designs much more than we could ever imagine.  By sharing our success stories, our pain points, our questions with vendors, we have a great opportunity to help them help us.  I chat with them at their booths, but also at evening events and coffee breaks.  

Also, events like the Summit, SQLSaturdays and usergroups could not happen without the support of these sponsors.  In fact, I make it a habit of personally thanking each of them for being there and helping us make this event possible.  I encourage others to do the same.  

The PASS mission is Connect, Share, Learn. For me, that’s what the Summit is all about.  Connecting with others, sharing what we know and learning more about SQL Server and data management.

How can attendees become involved in the SQL Server Community and continue their learning throughout the year?

There are so many options here, too.  Join their local SQL Server user group (My user group is Toronto.sqlpass.org).  Start a user group, tweetup, event.  Join Twitter and chat with other data professionals.  Attend training, both formal and informal. Read blogs.  Blog yourself. Attend a PASS Virtual Chapter webinar.  Attend the PASS Summit and other PASS events.  

 The great thing about the SQL Server Community is that there are so many options.

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