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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

2011 PASS Board Applicants: Rob Farley


I am interviewing 2011 PASS Board Nominee Applicants. As listed on the PASS Board Elections site the applicants are:

  • Rob Farley
  • Geoff Hiten
  • Adam Jorgensen
  • Denise McInerney
  • Sri Sridharan
  • Kendal Van Dyke

I'm asking everyone the same questions and blogging the responses in the order received.

Rob Farley is first up:

Interview With Rob Farley

1. What's your day job?

I run LobsterPot Solutions out of Adelaide, Australia. We're a SQL & BI consultancy, and were the first Microsoft Partner to have the Gold Competency in Business Intelligence anywhere in the world. I say that as if it's really significant - but actually it was just that we made sure we were ready when the Partner Program switched across to the Partner Network last year. You can read more about the company at

I'm semi-technical in the company. Obviously I need to run the business, but I also end up being involved in many of our projects and in 'pre-sales' kind of activity. We don't have any salespeople - all our work comes through word-of-mouth, but that doesn't negate the need for developing leads into clients, which is where a lot of my time gets spent.

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

It would be wrong say "It's Stockholm Syndrome", but Stockholm is definitely involved.

I've been involved with PASS (to a certain extent) for many years. I've run the Adelaide user group for over six years, and helped foster what I see as a healthy community here. I've also been involved in the 24 Hours of PASS events and presented at a number of user groups, both in person and remotely around the world. But it's not just PASS I have a heart for - it's the SQL community as a whole. I've made a couple of trips out to the UK for SQLBits events, and know the organisers well.

A few months ago, I was asked to visit Stockholm for some meetings to discuss the globalisation of PASS, and there got asked to be a non-voting advisor to the board of directors. This has given me an insight into the workings of the board, and opened my eyes to some of what PASS needs. I'm not suggesting it needs me, but I do feel that I could help PASS achieve some of its potential better by being a voting director. And that's what has motivated me to run. I'm also really pleased that there are a number of other excellent candidates running, and I'm confident that even if I don't get elected, that PASS is in excellent hands going forward. It's going to be really tough to replace some of the people that are stepping down from the board, but the current bunch of candidates are people who are full of energy and enthusiasm to help PASS be more effective than ever.

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

I'd like to say the globalisation aspect, but I although I see that as a challenge, I don't know that it's the main concern they face. The SQL community as a whole is stronger than ever, and not just in North America. SQLBits is moving from strength to strength in the UK. Twitter and the blogosphere are ablaze with SQL experts who are making their voices heard. In a few days your own initiative SQL People is hosting an event in New York, and Red Gate have run their SQL in the City event around the world. This shouldn't be a concern to PASS, but I know PASS has a desire to grow and develop the wider SQL community, and therefore encourage and support any SQL community event, whether it's PASS-affiliated or not. However, I imagine this will be a significant challenge in the time ahead. I would like to think PASS is capable of being the primary supporter of all SQL communities, but I can also imagine it could end up being a proper-sized challenge, and PASS may need to bridge a few gaps to be able to fill that role.

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

Surely every challenge reflects an opportunity. I think PASS has become more transparent than ever, and is positioning itself to become more effective than it has ever been. I would imagine that if PASS can see some of its vision for getting supporting the wider community, and becoming less "PASS-focused", then I think it has huge potential to impact the SQL world in new and exciting ways.

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

I'd like to see PASS get into the more regional areas, and support the local leaders better. They're already making this happen, so I'm hoping to be able to help support this initiative and do what I can to convert it into a reality.

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..."

I don't know that I want to change PASS much. I'd like to see PASS adapt to the changing needs of the SQL community, and be able to lose any remaining pride so that it can get behind things like SQLBits and SQL People. I want PASS to be accessible and available, become closer than ever to the SQL community and be the vehicle that I think the SQL community would like it to be.

7. Share something interesting about yourself!

I guess everyone knows that I play guitar, and wrote a SQL-related song, which I performed in front of over 3000 people in the Friday keynote. But I'm really not very good on guitar, and I don't write songs well at all. I grew up playing the piano, although I stopped having lessons too early, so I know plenty of people who are way better than me. I got a guitar when I figured I wasn't going to be able to take the piano with me when I left home, and have never had proper lessons. I only really strum, enough to be able to play in my church most weeks. But I've never been happy with songs that I've tried to put together, and that's mostly words. Words don't come easily to me. I can speak words easily, but I'm lousy at crafting lyrics. And the idea of performing in front of that crowd was terrifying. I always get ridiculously nervous and before any speaking engagement, and I've never sung and played my guitar in front of a crowd that's even close to a tenth of that before. So... the interesting thing about myself that people don't know - I'm a complete fake! People see me as confident on stage, but I'm never relaxed until a few minutes in.

Published Wednesday, November 2, 2011 8:00 AM by andyleonard

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