Why I Attend PASS Summit

What is PASS?

PASS. It’s the Professional Association for those individuals like me who have staked their careers on the Microsoft Data Platform.

It’s PASS that provides the structure and services behind the scenes allowing local members of our community to produce the successful SQLSaturday events around the world.

It’s PASS that produces 24-hour training events covering SQL Server, Business Intelligence, Data Science, and Professional Development topics delivered by Thought Leaders in our industry from all over the world.

It’s PASS that produces Business Analytics (BA) Marathons similar in structure to these 24 Hours of PASS events.

It’s PASS that provides the administrative foundation, staffing, marketing, and speaker network for local chapters.

It’s PASS that provides Virtual Chapters in dozens of disciplines to it’s members who want additional training beyond the local chapters and other events previously mentioned in the privacy of their own laptop.

It’s PASS that provides all of these events – for free – to all of its members.

And it’s PASS that hosts the largest convergence of Microsoft Data Platform professionals in the world once per year in Seattle, Washington: PASS Summit.

Why PASS Summit?

I’ve made a career from data. I’ve built a home, raised a family, bought nice things, sent one son to university, and have traveled the world all because of data. But more than that – I believe it all happened thanks to my first PASS Summit, which was a very happy accident. In 2001 I was supposed to go to a competing conference when my Manager saw an article in a magazine (yes, remember it was 2001) for the PASS Summit. He had me change my registration from the other conference to the PASS Summit and as far as I knew at the time it was just another technical conference.

Seven days before the start of PASS Summit 2001 the world changed forever when planes dove from clear, sunny skies on September 11. Flights were grounded for days and the Summit that year ended up getting postponed until January in Denver. In January I flew to Denver a couple days early to ski and ended up meeting another first time attendee at the Summit registration desk who was planning the same thing. We struck up a conversation and decided to spend the day skiing together. Once the Summit started up it was this attendee and I that were recruited to be a volunteer while we sat in the back of a keynote address from the PASS President. We went on to found what would become the Virtual Chapters PASS still provides to this day.

Since this first Summit experience I have attended every one since without hesitation. I’ve learned from hundreds of speakers in hundreds of sessions. I’ve taken what I’ve learned and excelled in my career as a result. I’ve gone on to volunteer in PASS on the Program Committee which is responsible for all the content at Summit. I’ve been a chapter leader. I’ve organized two SQLSaturdays. I’ve presented at dozens of SQLSaturdays, chapter meetings, 24 Hours of PASS events, and other conferences all over world. I’ve created SQL Cruise in 2010 where I take 30 students and leaders in the Data Platform community on a cruise ship for a week of training and networking. I was awarded the status of Microsoft MVP for my contributions to the SQL Server community in 2009 and have been renewed every year since. I’ve written hundreds of articles and a book. I’ve been elected to the PASS Board of Directors twice and serve with other fine individuals who grew professionally and technically thanks to their experiences with PASS and their times at the annual Summit. I list these things not to boast of my accomplishments but rather to state that all these things – all of them – likely would not have happened without that first PASS Summit experience. Many of my closest friends I’ve made are because of this event and just about all of the career growth and experiences I just outlined came as a result of Summit and the relationships I developed there.

I’m not special. There are plenty of others like me. Others that learned from books written by people who we now consider peers. People who we invite into our homes. Who know our families.

I’ve been to many other conferences over the years and none have provided me with the depth of technical knowledge PASS Summit has. None have ever come close to providing me with the opportunities to grow as a SQL Server Professional, Business Owner, Speaker, Community Facilitator, and Board Member that PASS Summit initiated.

That’s why I keep coming back to PASS Summit year after year. It’s why I volunteer my time at my expense to help PASS succeed and grow. It’s why I want you to come to the PASS Summit this year and for years to come.

I want you to have the success I’ve had because of my attendance and participation at PASS Summit.