- Location: Canada (UTC -0700)
- Expertise: SQL Server performance tuning. Windows network administration. C# development. Linux administration. Acting. Directing. Writing.
- Contact: Twitter | LinkedIn | Blog
While I’ve been interested in technology most of my life, I only took it seriously in 1997. I did a diploma in software support and networking, and then had a choice between SAP certification and a Windows NT 4.0 MCSE. The Microsoft certification was cheaper, and it has been downhill from there.
Towards the end of 2004, I became a junior lecturer in Java at a community college in South Africa. The teaching bug bit me hard, and I went full time into teaching high school computer classes in 2005. There was an adjacent three-year period of Saturday School, where I volunteered to teach underprivileged children aged 11 to 14 every weekend in exchange for five bucks (to cover gas) and a hot dog.
Although I live in Canada now, I have been sharing my knowledge through various means since then, most recently as a speaker at conferences (the Calgary PASS user group, roadshows, SQLSaturdays, the first Compañero Conference, and the upcoming SQLBits 2018). Microsoft awarded me a Data Platform MVP in 2016. I co-authored Microsoft SQL Server 2017 Administration Inside Out, and I will be mentoring a speaker for the 2018 TEDx event in Calgary.
Having passion about your interest is a good starting point in becoming a speaker, but that alone doesn’t magically make you good. In 2012 I attended SQLskills training for three weeks, and had the opportunity to present in front of Paul Randal and Kimberly Tripp, two of the best public speakers in our industry. I learned a lot from that experience! In just one evening I learned to slow my pace, build a story, and not use filler words.
My speaking experience also extends to the stage and screen. I have acted in, produced and directed many plays, and performed in and produced several independent films and TV / web series. I am a member of ACTRA, the professional acting union here in Canada. There are many parallels between public speaking and acting.
My first official talk as a data professional was at the Vancouver SQLSaturday two years ago. I spent many hours preparing, and although the room had only a few attendees, two of them were Mike Fal and Argenis Fernandez. I ended on time, my demos worked, and there were good questions. Since then I have spoken at many events.
Something I’ve learned from performing on stage is that every audience member matters. The size of the room is not important, and neither is the size of the audience. Your performance (or session) at a small venue with three people at a SQLSaturday should be to the same level you would perform in a room of 5,000 paid attendees.