Kathi: Wendy, congratulations! How does it feel to be the latest PASSion Award winner?
Wendy: In a word? Humbling. When I looked back at the past year and 'discovered' all the things I did for PASS, I was shocked. It never felt as if I were doing anything special, just getting things done which needed doing and having a great time working with really fun people on other projects.
Kathi: Which PASS activity was your favorite?
Wendy: That's a much more difficult question...if you asked me at the beginning of the year, it would have been SQL Saturday in Chicago. We had over 500 people register! It was amazing to watch the team come together and see all the offerings we had for our attendees: top-notch speakers, amazing sponsors with incredible giveaways, and a really fun day of networking. The smiles on everyone's faces were worth every ounce of work the team put into the event. I made new friends, too!
Then, if I'm asked that question later in the year, the WIT Luncheon is always at the top of my list. Our team works for close to 9 months to make sure this event comes together. From picking the topic, to inviting panelists and choosing SWAG, there are many decisions which need to be made. My favorite part is always pulling the topic together. We start with a list of several which were suggested by attendees, or past year's ideas that were not chosen, then throw in any more people come up with. The team votes on which topic we believe will be most relevant to the most people. Then we look at who we can invite to participate on the panel, and get them to accept. You would be surprised to see that process is not as easy as you might think. In the end, my favorite part of the Summit is often those first few hours after the Luncheon. People come up and let you know how inspired they are, or how something changed their life, and it really reminds me that we are actually making an impact on the community, not simply hosting a networking event. It's inspiring on this end, too!
Kathi: You have donated a generous amount of time to PASS. Do you have any special time management techniques that you can share?
Wendy: How I wish! Personally, I need deadlines. Without them, I tend to meander from task to task. I understand that about myself though, so I've learned ways to work with it. I allow myself to work on a few things at the same time. Probably not as efficient as I could be that way, but I get everything done in the end.
The one thing I did do, which helped tremendously, was to create a new email address that I solely use for PASS related activities. This way, everything I need is in one place instead of mixed up with my day-job or personal emails. Sure, filtering can work, but I get too much mail in a day to keep it all organized well enough. For me, having a completely separated email address has definitely helped! Also, I try to answer emails right away, or they can get lost in the fray.
One additional tool which has helped is Sticky Notes in Windows 7. I keep separate checklists open on my desktop all the time so I have tasks staring me in the face everytime I log into my machine. The color coding is nice, too! Right now, I have three of them - one for PASS things, one for Work items and another for Personal reminders. They don't have the value of Due Dates (ie: Outlook Tasks), but they work for me!
Kathi: What are your plans for next year?
Wendy: At first, my plan was to step back a little and focus on just a few things. Then, I was asked to sit on the Election Review Committee. We have already spent several hours talking about what the PASS Election process should entail. I hope we get a lot of feedback from the community, as it will make our job a lot easier.
I had already decided I would need to step into a different role with the WIT Virtual Chapter after taking on working as the Regional Mentor for the Midwest Region. The RM role has certainly been a lot of fun already with a new chapter starting up in Madison, WI this coming February and possibly another one in IL sometime in 2011. I'm looking forward to helping each Chapter become a desired destination for SQL Server professionals in the area.
As for WIT, there is just no way I could walk away from such a wonderful group of women! Even though I will no longer be serving as the Chair, I offered to step into a new role of Community/SQL Saturday support for WIT activities (along with you, Ms. Kathi!). I have to say I'm very happy we're sharing this role, as WIT sessions at SQL Saturday have become very popular and it's definitely more work than one person alone could handle. This also includes promoting a WIT offering at SQL Rally in May. I'm sure I will play a role in the WIT Luncheon at the Summit in 2011 as well. It's my favorite event and it's such a pleasure to see it come to fruition!
Finally (really? HA!) I'm heading up Team SQL Saturday Chicago once again. This time, we have a core staff of 9 though, so there will be much more division of labor. Lessons learned from last year and having attended a few other SQL Saturdays will also help a lot.
All around, I feel that each of these roles supports the other. For me, it's all about building community and adding to the fun. If I can continue to do that with a smile and get the opportunity to work with amazing people, it's the most rewarding thing I know to do.
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