T-SQL Tuesday #96: Folks Who Have Made A Difference
It's been quite a while since I've written for a T-SQL Tuesday, but I saw this month's topic and felt compelled to throw my 2 cents in. Our host for the month, Ewald Cress (@sqlOnIce) is asking for us to write about people who have made a meaningful contribution to our lives as data professionals.
There have certainly been a lot of people who have helped me get to where I am with my career today, but for this post I'd like to take things back to the very beginning. He wasn't my first boss, but was the first DBA I ever encountered in the professional world. He also got me my first real DBA position when a spot opened up on his team. Chuck Rummel (@crummel4), this post is for you.
The first time I met Chuck was at a job interview for what would come to be my first job out of college. I recognized Chuck's name from all my years of Boy Scouting, and I seem to remember that he had highlighted the line of my resume that said I was an Eagle Scout. That served as a pretty darn good icebreaker, and we ended up spending just as much time talking about camping and outdoor adventures as we did about technical topics.
Like I said, I ended up getting the job…as a .NET developer. It turns out that even though I wanted to be a DBA really badly, most companies aren't going to hire one straight out of college. Oh well – gotta start somewhere, and for me that was writing and optimizing code that pulled lots of data from databases. Databases maintained by a team that Chuck was in charge of. I can remember very clearly the first time I needed to add an index to improve a query's performance, but I couldn't add it myself due to lack of permissions. I marched around the corner to Chuck's cube to request rights to create indexes and very promptly got shot down. It turns out that denying requests from developers is kind of a core job skill for DBAs, and I got to learn this first-hand by being on the receiving end for a while.
I can also remember the first time I passed a certification exam – it was something for SQL Server 2005. I was so proud of myself, and made a point of showing my result sheet to Chuck, partially (ok, maybe mostly) to show him that I really can do this DBA stuff. After about 2 years of developing applications, learning good querying practices, and maybe dropping hints that I wanted to work for him every once in a while, a position opened up on Chuck's DBA team and I don't even think I had to apply for it.
So now I'm a DBA, living the dream! I've got sysadmin rights and a boss I really look up to. Then my education truly began. Of course there was tons of database skills to learn along with details about the environment, but there's also the finer points of business. While it's quite easy to shoot down a rookie developer's request for permissions, it's slightly different when such a request comes from someone above your pay grade. Chuck, you taught me all of these things, and so much more. You taught me what it's like to work on a good team with great chemistry. You taught me what to expect from a great boss, something that I've really only experienced once more since leaving your team. You also taught me that there's no shame in wearing Far Side T-shirts that might have a hole or two in them to the office, because when your workplace explicitly states they have zero dress code these things need to be taken advantage of!
In short, thank you for getting me going on the path to where I am today by being a terrific leader, manager, and friend.