Interview With PASS Summit 2012 Speaker - Robert Davis

It's the week before the big event, PASS Summit 2012!
As a treat to all the attendees, I will be posting at least one interview every day until I leave home to attend the summit. This is the fifth in a series of interviews with speakers leading up to the event which will be held in Seattle from November 6th - 9th.  This interview is with Microsoft Certified Master Robert Davis.

Tell us about yourself

I’m a Microsoft Certified Master in SQL Server and have been working with SQL Server for more than 12 years. Over the years, I’ve worn just about every hat a SQL Server professional can including SQL developer, production DBA, and data architect. I consider myself to be a “reformed developer”. When I got my first real job in IT, I was looking for a position as a web developer. Eventually, I was offered a job as a database developer. I was very eager to start my first IT job, and accepted it even though the thought of working with databases sounded like a boring job.

I was working at a small company, and for the next several years, I flipped between database and web development depending on the needs of the company at any given time. A day came eventually when my manager said that he thought they would be able to make me a web developer permanently. I realized at that moment that I no longer wanted to be a web developer. Our DBA had left the company about 6 months earlier and had not been replaced, mostly due to budget restrictions. I made a counter-offer for the DBA position instead, and SQL Server has been my real passion ever since.

Twitter: @SQLSoldier

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

My favorite thing about doing sessions are when people tell me that they learned something new that will save them a lot of time. As DBAs, we are often tasked with doing a lot more than is truly possible. As such we learn to be as efficient as possible. When I worked as a web developer, I was often given the opportunity to come up with elegant solutions to problems, and that was fun. As a DBA, to be successful, you need to learn to come up with the most efficient way to do things. So any time I can learn new ways to be efficient or teach someone else to be more efficient, I consider it a very good thing.

Tell us about your first time at PASS Summit

My first time at PASS Summit was in 2010. To be honest, I never paid attention to PASS activities until I started getting actively involved in the SQL community in 2008. I had been blogging intermittently on SQL Server Central for a couple of years, and started speaking at SQL Saturday events in 2009. I didn’t get picked to speak at the SQL PASS Summit in 2009 because my team’s entire training budget had been allocated to sending me through the Certified Master program. Every year since then, I have been selected to be a speaker.

What advice do you have for PASS Summit First Timers?

Diversify and participate. Take in a variety of sessions and attend lots of the after-hour events. The first-timers’ program is also a great way to meet people. Your mentor is probably someone who knows a lot of people and can introduce you to someone.

And if you run into someone you’ve always wanted to meet, talk to them. They’re just people like you and I. For me, the SQL pros I always wanted to meet were Paul Randal and Kimberly Tripp, and I’ve had the good fortune to be a student of their class and to work with them on projects. You won’t meet anyone nicer and easier to talk to than Paul and Kimberly.

What are your can't-miss PASS sessions?

Paul White’s session is one of the things I look forward to the most. I told him last year that he should submit a session called S*** Only I Know. He’s freaky smart about things like the query optimizer. I only wish he was doing a full day pre-con.

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

There are a couple of SQL Karaoke parties at the same time on the same night. SQL Karaoke is always a lot of fun, and I’m sorry that I’ll be missing the one sponsored by Pragmatic Works. I think Pragmatic Works is an awesome company, and I have lots of friends there. I have lots of friends that will be at the SQL Karaoke sponsored by Idera and run by Denny Cherry, and that is the SQL Karaoke event that I will be attending.

I also like to just hang out and “talk shop” with other SQL people. There will be times where you can find me just hanging out and talking to people. In fact, I’ll probably spend some time hanging out at the Idera booth. They get a lot of people at the booths that have technical questions, and this gives me a good way to talk shop with people I don’t even know.

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

SQLSaturdays are still one of my favorite PASS events. I love speaking at and attending the events. One of the things I love about my job at Idera is that they send me to SQLSaturday events that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to attend. Travel can be expensive, so I definitely get to attend more than I would otherwise.

I would love to help organize and run a SQLSaturday event as well. I know it would be a lot of work, but I think there are some great things being done at the events out there that I would love to see get incorporated into our local SQLSaturdays.



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