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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is an author and engineer who enjoys building and automating data integration solutions. Andy is co-host of the Data Driven podcast. Andy is no longer updating this blog. His current blog is

2010 PASS Board Applicants: Steve Jones

I am interviewing 2010 PASS Board Nominee Applicants. As listed on the PASS Board Elections site the applicants are:
  • Allen Kinsel
  • Andy Warren
  • Denny Cherry
  • Douglas McDowell
  • Geoff Hiten
  • Jack Corbett
  • Mark Ginnebaugh
  • Markus Sprenger
  • Steve Jones
I'm asking everyone the same questions and blogging the responses in the order received.
Steve Jones is up next:
Interview WIth Steve Jones
1. What's your day job?

 I am the editor-in-chief of SQLServerCentral and Database Weekly, both publications of Red Gate Software. That’s a little misleading, since I mostly am the only staff working on these projects, but I am part of a team of 6 that handle all Red Gate publications, including Simple Talk, various books, and a few other projects. I founded SQLServerCentral with Brian Knight, former PASS board member, and Andy Warren, current PASS board member, back in 2001 and we sold the company to Red Gate in 2007.


2. What motivated you to run for the PASS Board of Directors?

I have debated running for the board ever since I joined PASS in 1999. Back then I wasn’t confident enough that I had enough business experience, or even SQL Server experience to run. Each year I have evaluated the decision, but conclude the timing wasn’t right, because of work or family commitments. This year I had decided not to run, mostly because of my wife’s travel. However Andy Warren has been talking to me, asking me to re-evaluate my position. After talking with my wife and discussing it, I waffled and decided to run.


The motivation comes from the fact that it seems my life is intertwined with PASS on a regular basis. I discuss what is happening in the community, and how PASS can better serve the SQL Server professionals who are both members and potential members.  I have felt for years that PASS is not doing all it can do, and not relevant enough to the SQL Server community.


My passion has come out in discussions and made me realize that I should be working from within the organization to effect change rather than outside it. SQL Saturday was started when Andy Warren and I saw a need that PASS wasn’t fulfilling and decided to build it on our own. Ultimately we thought that PASS was the logical organization to run it and earlier this year, we transitioned SQL Saturday to PASS. As I look over my blog, I find that “PASS” is one of the tags that is most prominent, reminding me that I am regularly thinking and writing about the organization. I think that serving on the board might be the best way that I can contribute to the greater SQL Server community and I look forward to getting the chance to do so.


3. What is PASS's largest challenge right now?

That’s a tough question. I’m an outsider, and I don’t necessarily have the full picture of what happens inside PASS in terms of its finances, it’s relationship with Microsoft and what efforts are being made to serve the community. I think the biggest challenge that I see for the organization is being relevant to its members’ careers. Why should people join PASS? For years the organization has been synonymous with a conference, the annual Summit. So much so that the conference is called “PASS” by so many people as noted by the numerous blogs/tweets/posts that say “I’m going to PASS.”  I feel that as more and more events take place, more vendors sponsor webinars and training opportunities such as the SQL Cruise, PASS is under attack to try and survive as an organization that does more than run a conference.


In the last decade as I discuss the organization and PASS with people in the community, there are a lot of people that don’t see the point of the organization. They wonder why Microsoft doesn’t just hold a separate SQL Server conference. User groups don’t see PASS as helping them run their small communities. I worry that we might reach a tipping point where more people question the reason for PASS’ existence than appreciate it being a part of their career.


4. What is PASS's greatest opportunity right now?

 I think the greatest opportunity for PASS now, with so many volunteers being interested in holding SQL Saturdays, is to capitalize on that enthusiasm and grow the franchise, perhaps partner with other groups like INETA, and add additional events like the SQL Rally that will continue to excite and serve the community. PASS has the chance to become a regular part of people’s careers with regular training and information around the world. Two years ago Andy Warren and I thought about whether we could ever get 50 events completed in a year. There were 30 this year and the momentum is still growing.


I also see the efforts by Andy Warren to share more about how PASS works and increase transparency gives the organization the chance to greatly increase its credibility in the community. I’d like to help contribute to that.


5. Complete this sentence: "If I only get one new thing accomplished while serving on the PASS Board of Directors, I want to..."

 make people smile when they think of the Professional Association for SQL Server.


I want the first impression of PASS to positive, and relevant to the careers of people that make their living with SQL Server.



6. Complete this sentence: "If I only get to change one existing thing about PASS while serving on the PASS Board of Directors, I want to..."

 have the entire organization engage with the community on a regular basis.


Too often I’ve seen directors, staff, and volunteers disengage from the community, and start to make decisions without working with the community. I want to see more polls, more feedback from the community to PASS, with thoughtful evaluation of the comments and presentations back to the community on a regular basis.


7. Share something interesting about yourself!
I wonder what I can share that I don’t already share on a regular basis at SQLServerCentral J


Here are a couple things that sometimes surprise people when they hear about them. One is I run every day. I started running on Sept 10, 2008 and as I answer this question I’ve completed 681 consecutive days of running at least a mile. That’s around snowboarding, baseball, travel, injury, etc. I’m pretty proud of that, and my streak is tracked on a daily blog at


The other thing is that despite the fact that I will go out and shovel horse manure on a regular basis on the ranch where I live, I don’t really like horses. My wife likes horses. I love my wife. I have horses.


:{> Andy

Published Thursday, July 29, 2010 8:00 AM by andyleonard

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Robert L Davis said:

I have cats for the same reason .... but at least they only need a scooper and not a shovel!!

July 29, 2010 1:51 PM

Robert L Davis said:

In the list of applicants at the top of the post, can you link teh names of the applicants to the posts with their interviews (that have been posted already) so we can go back and see any we missed?

July 29, 2010 1:52 PM

andyleonard said:

Good points Robert,

  I have a summary post scheduled for the end of this series, tentatively set for publication 5 Aug 2010. It contains links to the interviews (at this time I've heard from all but one candidate).

  In the interim, if you click "PASS Board Elections 2010" in the tag cloud to the left (, that will take you to all the interviews.

:{>  Andy

July 29, 2010 2:17 PM

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