David Alcock

I’ve been working with data and SQL Server for a long time. I’ve been a developer, I’ve worked in BI and spent a rather long time as a DBA doing all kinds of weird and wonderful things, nowadays though I just refer to myself as a data person.

Although I have worked with SQL Server for many years it wasn’t until a few years ago that I became more active in the community. It took a visit to the SQL Bits conference in Liverpool to really open my eyes and after that I took up blogging, I started visiting user groups and other conferences too but mainly, I started connecting with people.

In 2019 I decided to have a go at presenting a session. It was way before that point that I wanted to do it, it just took a long time and a certain amount of persuasion from others to actually do it. I presented at two user groups then to my surprise (and if I am honest utter horror) was selected as a new speaker at the Data Scotland conference in Glasgow.

Being a new speaker meant I was very lucky to be assigned a mentor. I remember having an initial conversation about my session and actually made me think about delivery and the audience and those things that truthfully I had not fully considered. Mainly though, I felt supported and there is a heck of lot of confidence that comes with that.

Which is why I am here now. Through the support I had from my mentor, there were classes put on by the conference and also lots of words of wisdom from seasoned speakers I had what I consider to be one of the greatest experiences ever! I may be a year into my speaker journey but already it’s something that I would love to share my experiences with to help other people make that journey.

So let’s do it!

Dwayne Natwick

Location: Michigan, USA (UTC -5)

Expertise: Azure architecture and administration, Security, Networking, Microsoft 365

Contact: Twitter | LinkedIn

I have been in the technology industry over 30 years ago when I worked summers with a communications company pulling phone cables and placing phones. Some exciting projects that I worked were the main US Postal Service sorting facility in Washington, DC and NASA in Virginia. Technology at the time was not something that I wanted to do for a living, but here I am today.

Throughout high school and college, I was not comfortable at all with public speaking and was pretty nervous around large groups. After college, I began my career. The turning point with me was in 1995 when I was offered to enter into a Management training program with a communications and networking distributor. Within eight months, I was relocated to open a new distribution and sales center, which required me to hire and train employees that were just out of college and had no idea what a network hub or switch was, much less the category 5 cable that was needed to connect to computers.

I attribute this experience as ground zero for my ability to train and guide others. My next position was as a regional manager for a network component manufacturer. Here I began to provide certification classes for the products that we made, including how to terminate twisted pair and fiber cable ends. This was a part of the job that I really enjoyed because I was able to provide my knowledge and experience to others to learn and grow.

Over the years following, I have provided numerous training sessions at all levels of sales, engineering, marketing, customer care, and even union electricians.

Fast forward to the past 24 months, I began to freelance as a Microsoft Certified Trainer and get more involved in community events. I also began providing certification training for my company’s engineering and service delivery team for Microsoft Azure administrator and architect certifications. While having a full-time position as a Product Manager, I delivered ten training courses within my company. I also authored an online AZ-500 course and launched my blog site: captainhyperscaler.com.

I also began to participate and present at community events with live and pre-recorded content. These included the Azure Advent Calendar, Global Azure Virtual 2020, Cloud Lunch and Learn, and others. Overall in 2020, I have provided close to 20 community contributions, and I was awarded the Microsoft MVP award for Azure in September 2020.

Through my freelance training work, I was offered a permanent position as a Sr. Cloud Training Architect at Opsgility to provide live training and develop content for their on-demand Skill Me UP platform. I am now the Technical Training Content Lead, providing management, strategy, and guidance to the other content creators and external trainers.

I am very passionate about teaching and providing my knowledge to others. I feel that if something that I have worked with succeeds, then I succeed, and that gives me a great deal of personal and professional pride and fulfillment.

Please reach out to me on LinkedIn and Twitter to connect. If you are looking for guidance on how to get into public speaking, I am happy to help and even get you started with a session at my monthly user group.

Sander Stad

Location: The Netherlands (UTC+2)
Expertise: SQL Server, PowerShell, DevOps (I try my best), Automation
Contact: Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog

I’m a SQL Server DBA from The Netherlands.

After college I started working at a school group where I started as an application engineer. Maintaining the application but also the database. I got more and more interested in databases and even got to a point that I helped the developers of the software improve their software.

I then started to work for a secondment firm working for various companies in automotive, healthcare and financial industries.

Fast forward to 2014 I worked at a pension fund company. At that moment I was thinking of doing more in the data community but had no idea how to do that.
In that year Redgate organized a contest to describe your worst day as a DBA. You could win a cruise, called the SQL Cruise in that day, which was a small scale conference with some of the best speakers around.
I had my share of unfortunate events in the past and I wrote my story. A few months go by and I suddenly see an e-mail from Redgate that my story was chosen and that I won the contest.

I cannot emphasize this enough, but SQL Cruise (now Tech Outbound) has changed my live in many ways. It was at this event that I learned that

  • everybody has something to say
  • everybody is a genius in their own way
  • everybody is creative
  • you don’t have to think your ideas or not worth posting

Several people, including the speakers, convinced me to start speaking and so I did.

My first session was an online session. I was nervous, sometimes I had to think about some things to say, but overall the session was good and the demos worked. In the end Aaron Nelson, the user group leader, told me the number of people that joined my session, over 300!

I thought, if I inspired one person with my talk it was already good, but apparently my talk was something that people were interested in.

Fast forward to today.
I’m a regular speaker at smaller and bigger events. I’ve presented at PASS Summit, SQL Bits and various other events like SQL Saturday.
I’m a major contributor to the dbatools project and I’m a maintainer of several open-source projects.
Because of all those contributions I became a Microsoft MVP in 2019, to be exact a Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP.

I’m a believer that anybody has something interesting to say. That’s why I wanted to become a speaking mentor to help people get started. It’s that first hurdle that you will have to take, but believe me, it’s worth it.
I never had that mentor that helped me get started, but I had the community that nudged me in the right direction.

I’m here for you if you need help.

You can reach me through my LinkedIn or through Twitter and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

Chris Gecks

Hi, my name is Chris Gecks. I’m a Microsoft MVP & Veeam Vanguard, with a passion for Microsoft 365, Veeam and all Cloud-based technologies on an enterprise level.

I am passionate about technology and embrace knowledge sharing. My first presentation was in 2008 when I finished High School and started UNI, it was at a local User Group and it was a very challenging and exhilarating experience. This really sparked my passion for speaking and blogging and I have been doing so ever since.

I look forward to collaborating with you soon and building a great and meaningful community.

Pedro Sousa

Pedro Sousa - Microsoft Datacenter Airlift 2016 @ Microsoft Portugal (Lisbon)
    • Location: Porto, Portugal (UTC)
    • Expertise: Azure, Office 365, Datacenter Management
    • Contact: Twitter | LinkedIn

My career started as an IT Trainer late 1993’s and for about 10 years I delivered several classes ranging from Office end-users to programming languages but after my first certification as MCSE, I started delivering courses for the Microsoft Official Curriculum as an MCT.

I always loved public speaking and to share knowledge. There’s much you can share inside of a class room between teacher and students.

After a few years out of this area and by a lucky chance, I was offered the possibility of applying for some local event – i.e. local usergroup meetups and SQL Saturday – and then it begun the new journey of public speaking at events. For the past 7 years I’ve spoken at several events and love to do it!

Since then I’ve also joined TEDxPorto (www.tedxporto.com), our local TEDx chapter, to help organize an event with +1300 attendees each year and I love it!

What I can do for you:

    •  Help you getting started at your local events;
    •  Help reviewing your materials and give you some pointers how to start building them;
    •  Help you avoid some common mistakes like trying to crack some jokes…

What I cannot do for you:

    •  Make all your demos work! But do you really need them?!?!? 😉

Rob Farley

Location: Australia (UTC+9.5)
Expertise: SQL, BI, tuning, consulting
Contact: Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog

I’m a SQL guy based in Australia, and have found over the years that it’s good to be different. Maybe that’s because I’m a twin, although we’re not even alike (fraternal, not identical).

One of the things I’ve discovered is that there are a lot of people in the IT industry. Many of them sit at a desk from 9-5 each business day and then go home. Others invest in their careers by taking the time to attend community meetings such as PASS groups, SQLSaturdays, DDD events, and various others. Those people already benefit massively by simply mixing with other people who do similar to what they do. Iron sharpens iron.

But there are those who invest even more heavily in their careers by not simply attending meetings, but getting up the front and presenting. They demonstrate their expertise, their ability to simply complex technology, and their ability to communicate. They become regarded as being special, and top of their field. Experts. And the secret is…

…they’re still just regular people.

Just regular people who took a step of courage to start presenting.

I love seeing people take that step. Even though it’s scary, the courage gets turned into strength. It opens doors. It serves others. It even helps make friends. I’m not the average presenter – I try to find creative ways to explain things. But even that has helped me massively, and today I have friends all around the world through technical communities. Let me help you in your journey towards speaking. I suspect you really just need encouragement to take the first step, but I also help people develop a narrative in their speaking, giving their presentations a path and framework that allows them create a style which is entirely their own.

Eugene Meidinger

Eugene Meidinger Speaking
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA (UTC – 5) (EST)
  • Expertise: Power BI, SSRS, Basic DBA
  • Contact: Twitter | Email | Linkedin

About 7 years ago I got a job as .Net / SQL developer. And I thought, great I’ll be a Software Engineer. And it turned out most of the work was SQL and database administration, and I remember Googling what a stored procedure was and what a view was. A few months later, I found out that user groups were a thing and attended my first SQL user group.

A few months after that I found out that SQL Saturdays were a thing and attended my first SQL Saturday. And then I made the fortunate mistake of attending the afterparty. There I was cornered by the user group leader and another community member They said, “You should present.”

I told them “No I’ve only been doing this for a year now.” And they told me to present anyway. My first presentation was at our local user group, and while I didn’t get every detail perfect, I didn’t catch on fire either. Ever since then, speaking has been a tremendous boon for my career.

These days I work as an interdependent BI consultant and make courses on Pluralsight. Feel free to reach out to me!

Greg Levenhagen

Greg Levenhagen Speaking
  • Location: Midwest US (UTC -6)
  • Expertise: Software Development, Community Building, Public Speaking, Strategy & Innovation, Career Development, Entrepreneurship
  • Contact: Twitter | LinkedIn

Greg Levenhagen is a Microsoft Regional Director, Microsoft MVP in Windows Development and Principal Software Engineer Consultant with Skyline Technologies. He has a great passion for giving back to the community and teaching. A true enthusiast of computer science, with passions and interests including mobile, UX, architecture, parallel, testing, agile, 3D/games, cloud, languages and much more. Greg speaks at conferences like ThatConference, CodeMash, Code PaLOUsa, TechBash, VSLive, KCDC and DevLink.

He is also a Volunteer Teacher for CS through TEALS, Microsoft Certified Trainer, board member of ThatConference, president of the Northeast WI Developers User Group / Northeast WI Code Camp / Milwaukee Code Camp, cofounder of the Northeast WI Agile User’s Group, INETA speaker, IEEE and ACM member and a PhD student.

Along with being a life-long geek, Greg enjoys golfing, football, woodworking, philosophy and stimulating conversation.

Simon Binder

  • Location: Linköping, Sweden (UTC+1)
  • Expertise: Windows, EMS, System Center, Powershell, User Adoption and presentation skills
  • Contact: Twitter | E-MailLinkedInPersonal Blog

I work as a Principal Solution Architect in Sweden focusing on Digital Workplace solutions. I’m sharing my time between evenly between design & strategy work around Workplace, pre-sale as well as evangelism – where the last part has take me all around Europe (so far) speaking at conferences and user groups.

My first “real” talk (having held a number of talks at internal conferences prior to it) were at Techdays Sweden in 2016. It included song, dance, a penguin – and one of the most awarded speakers in the Tech-world at the front row. But it went well, I learned a lot and I learnt that the only way to be better at speaking – is to speak, and getting feedback and listen to feedback.

I have had a lot of help from colleagues, friends, coaches, attendees and my family over the years – and now its time to give back. I’m passionate about speaking. I’m passionate about helping other be better speakers – while keeping your personal touch and feel. I’m passionate about seeing people succeed.

I work mostly with Microsoft technologies, but happy to help out with any topic. In that way, I learn a bit myself. I love to listen, and what I hope to get from every talk I attend is: Getting 100 % focus on the speaker and the topic, feel the passion and joy from the speaker, and leave the room exhausted – but also filled with new knowledge and inspiration. That’s also what I try to give in all my talks – and I hope to be able to help you achieve in yours.

Aaron N. Cutshall

  • Location: North Augusta, SC (UTC – 5) (EST)
  • Expertise: T-SQL Development
  • Contact: Twitter | LinkedIn | EmailBlog

Aaron N. Cutshall is a Sr. Data Architect with 20 years of experience in analysis, design and development for applications and databases in manufacturing and warehousing plus over 12 years in the Healthcare Informatics field.  His primary focus has been in designing and developing solutions for extremely large data sets that perform quite well in SQL Server.

He is active in the SQL Server community and speaks at SQL Saturday sessions across the country since 2012. His focus is in T-SQL development, set theory, and processing massive amounts of data as efficiently as possible.