- Location: Denver, CO, USA (UTC-7)
- Expertise: Business intelligence/analytics and data viz on the Microsoft Data Platform, distilling complex concepts into useful nuggets of information
- Contact: Twitter|LinkedIn
When I graduated from college (undergrad), I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I landed a job with a large healthcare IT company where new college graduates were hired, trained, and then placed in various parts of the business. I ended up in the financial reporting group, providing analytics and reporting to company executives and the finance department. That was where I learned that I love working with data and teaching people how to access their data and make sense of it.
In 2012, I attended the SQL Rally Dallas conference and met Bill Graziano, another data professional who lived in Kansas City (where I lived at the time). As we were chatting, I told him I wanted to get more involved with the local SQL community. Bill told me I was welcome to help organize the next Kansas City SQL Saturday, so I joined the planning committee. SQL Saturday has an open call for speakers. I watched as the deadline to submit approached, and I noticed that the submitted abstracts were all focused on DBA and data integration topics. On the last evening that the call for speakers was open, I decided to submit a talk on data visualization in Reporting Services (SSRS). In August of 2012, I gave my SSRS talk. I was nervous, but I very much enjoyed the experience. A supportive community member sat in my session and gave me a few tips and encouragement afterward, and that started the beginning of my addiction to speaking.
From there, I began traveling to speak at other SQL Saturdays and conferences, speaking at several dozen conferences and user groups over the subsequent years. At first, I was just excited to share my knowledge about topics that interested me. Once I got more comfortable, I enjoyed learning from my audience as well. I am continually inspired and enlightened by the other speakers I have met along the way. It takes courage to put yourself out there, but I believe the rewards are well worth it. I have made friends, gained job opportunities, visit new cities, and learned a lot about myself, speaking, and the Microsoft Data Platform. In 2016, I earned the Microsoft MVP award for my community contributions, including speaking at conferences.
While I know there is always room for improvement in my speaking and presentation skills, I’ve racked up a bit of knowledge and experience over the years and would love to help someone else get started or improve.