From PASS Community Evangelist to Community Volunteer

From PASS Community Evangelist to Community VolunteerIn November 2016, I started working as the PASS Community Evangelist. My year at PASS has been amazing and challenging at the same time. I’m thankful I got the opportunity to grow professionally and personally, I’m so proud of all the SQLSaturday organizers I have worked with, and I have really enjoyed getting to know the community better. It has truly been a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

However, I have and always will be a geek :) I love learning new technologies, solving problems and developing solutions. Because of that, I have decided to go back to a technical role. You can read more about my decision in my PASS blog post Shifting Back From Community Evangelist to Community Volunteer.

Over the past year, I have met more talented and passionate volunteers in the community than I can count. From SQLSaturday Organizers to Regional Mentors, Local and Virtual Group Leaders, on-site volunteers, speakers, and all the way up to the PASS Board of Directors.

These volunteers are the heart and soul of PASS. Every day, at user group meetings and events, in private conversations and during work lunches, they share their knowledge and help others connect. They don’t just talk about what PASS is, they are PASS.

Because we have this amazing, growing, global community full of passionate volunteers, it made it a little easier for me to step down from my role as the PASS Community Evangelist. Instead of having just one person in this role, I hope to see community volunteers (especially Regional Mentors) getting more involved in some of the tasks I have been doing: mentoring new SQLSaturday organizers, identifying new areas where PASS can grow, working with PASS HQ and the Board of Directors on community initiatives, and representing PASS at events all over the world.

You won’t get rid of me that easily, though! I will still be involved in the community as an active volunteer :)

I’m now looking forward to going back to a technical role and getting hands-on experience developing solutions again, hopefully combined with some blogging, speaking and teaching. Where? I don’t know yet :) I will be spending the next couple of months looking for new opportunities and deciding what’s next for me. I will also take a few weeks off during Christmas to spend time with my family.

My last day with PASS will be Friday, December 8th. I’m looking forward to watching PASS grow even more in 2018 – just from the other side again :) But before then, I hope to see you all at PASS Summit 2017!

I’m a Microsoft Ignite Community Reporter!

For this year’s Microsoft Ignite, 10 MVPs have been invited by Microsoft to cover the event live throughout the week. I’m very excited and honored to announce that I’m one of this year’s Community Reporters! :) As a Community Reporter, I will share news and updates by blogging, tweeting, reporting live, interviewing speakers and attendees, and posting pictures and videos of what’s happening on the ground in Orlando.

Get to know the Community Reporters

Click on the links below to read each Community Reporter’s introduction blog post, learn more about them, and see where you can follow them on social media. If you’re on Twitter, you can find everyone in the msignitelive list.

Microsoft Ignite Community Reporters

Top row from left to right:
Alistair Pugin (Office Servers & Services MVP)
Cathrine Wilhelmsen (Data Platform MVP) <- Hey mom, look, it's me! :)
Christian Buckley (Office Servers & Services MVP)
Darrell Webster (Office Servers & Services MVP)
Dux Raymond Sy (Office Servers & Services MVP)

Bottom row from left to right:
Harjit Dhaliwal (Windows and Devices for IT MVP)
Laura Rogers (Office Servers & Services MVP)
Magnus Mårtensson (Microsoft Azure MVP)
Sue Hanley (Office Servers & Services MVP)
Tom Arbuthnot (Office Servers & Services MVP)

What will you do as a Community Reporter?

My focus will be on the Microsoft Data Platform, SQL Server, Analytics, Machine Learning and AI, as well Women in Business & Technology. As the only Data Platform MVP, I won’t be able to cover everything, but I will do my best to share news and updates about a wide variety of topics. Do you have any ideas, suggestions, or even questions for any of the speakers? Let me know in a comment!

I will cross-post content to this blog throughout the week, but most of my activity will be on Twitter, so make sure you follow me there: @cathrinew.

If you want to know which sessions I’m attending, take a look at my Microsoft Ignite Schedule. Keep in mind that I have a lot of other things planned that aren’t listed in the schedule (some of them may or may not involve a camera crew!) and that my schedule might change at any time.

Finally, make sure you follow the Microsoft Ignite Blog for all the latest news and updates.

See you in Orlando?

Are you attending Microsoft Ignite? Let me know by leaving a comment. And if you see me around, make sure to say hi! If my nose is stuck to my phone screen, it only means I’m sharing something cool, I’m not trying to ignore you ;)

Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a Microsoft Ignite Community Reporter

See you in Orlando from September 25-29!

3 Mistakes I Made While Presenting Remotely

3 Mistakes I Made While Presenting RemotelyTwo years ago I wrote about my experiences presenting a webinar for the first time. I learned a lot that day, and it helped me prepare for presenting remotely. But, a webinar is not the same as a remote presentation. And as much as you prepare and rehearse, you just won’t be prepared for every little thing that might happen until you’ve experienced them. So in addition to the advice I shared in my other blog post, here are 3 of my mistakes you don’t want to make if you’re planning to start presenting remotely :)

I didn’t ask the organizers enough questions before I started presenting

How many people are attending? What does the room look like? Is the screen large or small? Are people sitting close to the screen or in the back of the room? Can you see my webcam? Where is my webcam placed on the screen that the attendees see? Will I see your webcam?

I should have asked the organizers to spend 5-10 minutes with me before the session started so I could get a better idea of who I was presenting for and what they would see. When presenting live, I walk to the back of the room to check how much I need to zoom in during demos. I can see what everyone else sees on the screen. I can adjust to different room layouts. When presenting a webinar, I know that everyone will see the same as me on their own screens. I can watch my own webinar on a second screen so I can adjust to the lag. When presenting remotely, I don’t know anything about what the attendees see unless I ask. Maybe my webcam covered parts of my demo? Maybe I clicked too fast through my slides? I don’t know, but I should have known.

I didn’t test running all my software at the same time

We did a test call and Skype, my camera and my microphone all worked. But generating SSIS packages from Biml in Visual Studio at the same time as sharing my webcam plus my sound plus my screen? Uh, yeah, that didn’t really go too well on my old and tired laptop. Demos that usually take 2-3 seconds ran for nearly 30 seconds. Demos that usually take 30 seconds (and make my Visual Studio stop responding just long enough for me to grab a sip of water and joke about it) ran for several minutes. It felt like an hour. I don’t have that many jokes! I ran short on time because of this.

Waiting... Waiting... Still waiting...

I should have tested more before starting my presentation. While asking the organizers questions before the meeting (see previous point), I should also have asked them to do a quick dry run with me. They could have given me feedback on the most important part of my demos: Was everything visible from the back of the room? Is the call quality good enough to present in regular speed, or do I need to slow down more? And most importantly – does everything actually work with all the software I’m running at the same time?

I stared at my microphone while presenting

I used a Jabra speakerphone, that flat, round gadget that looks like a hockey puck. It was next to my keyboard, and I kept staring at it all through my presentation. Because, you know, all the attendees were sitting inside it, and I was presenting for them :)

I should have looked more into the camera. I didn’t, I looked at where the sound came from. I also leaned down several times to hear questions better, which must have looked rather funny. I’ve only presented with headphones in the past, so this was a new experience for me. I should have rehearsed more with this camera and microphone setup to get used to where to look and what gestures to make.

I made these mistakes so you won’t have to!

Well, ok, I didn’t do it on purpose ;) But I do hope you can learn something from my mistakes, so you will become a way better remote speaker than me! I also hope you can learn something from my previous experiences. What advice would you give to new speakers who are presenting remotely?

Presenting remotely for Malta Microsoft Data Platform User Group

Cathrine Wilhelmsen Presenting for Malta Microsoft Data Platform User GroupWoohoo! On Tuesday, March 28th, I will be doing a remote session for the Malta Microsoft Data Platform User Group. I will be presenting my Biml for Beginners: Speed up Your SSIS Development session, one of my favorites :)

The meeting starts with my remote session, then there’s a short break before moving on to Gossip Geek – “… your one and only source into the fabulous lives of Geek’s elite…”. I have no clue what that is, but it sounds fun, so make sure to attend if you’re in the area :D And if Business Intelligence, SSIS and Biml is not your thing, maybe Columnstore Indexes are? The meeting finishes with Slawomir Drzymala (@sdryzmala) presenting Columnstore Index – do we need another one?!.

The Malta Microsoft Data Platform User Group is brand new. It was started in January 2017, and this will be their third meeting. I’m very happy I get to help support a new local group! If you’re a speaker and want to do a remote (or on-site!) session, you can find Malta Microsoft Data Platform User Group on Meetup, Facebook and Twitter (@MMDPUG).

And of course, if you’re from Malta, make sure you join and attend the meetings! If the sessions that day aren’t super interesting, attend anyway for the networking :)

Wow, I haven’t written one of these posts for a long time! It feels great to slowly move back into the world of speaking again. Thanks for inviting me to speak, MMDPUG! I wish I could be there in person, but I’m really looking forward to presenting for you :)

Cathrine + PASS = New Community Evangelist

Cathrine WIlhelmsen is the new PASS Community EvangelistIt’s November, and that means I’m now officially a PASS employee! Yep, that’s right, I will be taking over as the PASS Community Evangelist after the wonderful Karla Landrum (@KarlaKay22). And to tell you the truth, it’s both extremely terrifying and super exciting at the same time :)

Many of you heard the news at PASS Summit 2016 after we announced it during the SQLSaturday organizers meeting, and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who congratulated me afterwards. You are the community, and it truly means a lot to me to hear that you think I’m the right person for this role.

Why did you accept the job as a Community Evangelist?
My family and best friends in the community weren’t surprised when I told them :) The PASS and SQL Server community has been such an important part of my life for the past three years. Getting involved has literally changed my life. At my first PASS Summit in 2013 I was a shy, socially awkward person who was terrified of talking to people. At PASS Summit 2016 I was a speaker presenting two regular sessions and a lightning talk, and my favorite part of it all was getting to know lots of amazing new people. Volunteering in this community has given me so much, and this is my chance to give something back.

Does that mean you won’t be working in tech anymore?
Well, yes. I won’t work as a consultant or architect or developer and I won’t get hands-on experience with projects and clients. This is a full-time community job. I’m sure I will miss working in tech, but I will try to keep up with everything that’s going on in the Microsoft Data Platform world at events and on weekends. (Because, you know, once a geek, always a geek!)

What will you do as a Community Evangelist?
Support regional mentors, chapter leaders and SQLSaturday organizers, and look for opportunities to establish new chapters and SQLSaturdays. I will also be administering the SQLSaturdays and help events go live, blog, monitor social media, and work with the PASS Board of Directors and PASS Headquarters to support global growth.

Will you continue speaking and blogging?
Part of my job as a Community Evangelist is to share everything that PASS has to offer and opportunities for volunteering, especially at events where people are new to the PASS community. That means I will still be speaking, but I will be speaking as a PASS representative, for example doing lunch sessions at SQLSaturdays. However, I will no longer be submitting to speak at PASS events like I used to. I will definitely still be blogging, and I hope that I actually may get back to blogging more regularly – especially when my fingers start itching to get some hands-on experience with Biml and SQL Server again :)

WHAT WILL WE DO WITHOUT KARLA!?
PANIC! No, hopefully not :) Karla has been a fantastic Community Evangelist and I know people all around the world will miss her terribly! We have started the onboarding and handover process, and we will be working together for a couple of weeks so I can learn as much as possible about the job from her. While I know I won’t be able to fill Karla’s shoes, I promise I will do my absolute best for this community!

Let’s rock!
This is all you, #SQLFamily. You’re the heart and soul of PASS, just continue doing amazing things for your local communities and I will do what I can in this new role to support you. This is already the best community in the world, let’s make it even better in the next couple of years! :)

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