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Why I'm a Business Intelligence Consultant (T-SQL Tuesday #111)

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This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Andy Leonard (@AndyLeonard). Andy wants to know what is our “why”, or why we do what we do. Before I can answer the why, I will briefly explain the what 😊 I work as a Business Intelligence consultant, focusing on Data Warehousing, Data Integration, and Data Visualization.

The short answer to “why?” is because the work is both challenging and rewarding. As a Business Intelligence consultant, I get to use all my skills from programming to design. I get to satisfy my instinctive need to group, organize, and sort things when working with data. Then I get to make things shiny and pretty. Finally, I get to work with other people, learn about their industries, and help them do their jobs better.

The long answer is… longer πŸ˜… I absolutely love my job now, but I ended up in the world of data completely accidentally. I’ve gone from Web Development to Graphic Design to Interactive Design to Java Programming to SharePoint Development to Data Warehouse Architecture to Community Evangelizing… And now I’m here πŸ€“ (Phew!) So why am I a Business Intelligence consultant?

Beginning: HTML and CSS

I have always loved all kinds of puzzles, brain games, and technical challenges. They’re fun πŸ™ŒπŸ» Around the age of 10, I started building websites. They were just a next-level challenge for me. Something to experiment with and figure out! I quickly grew to dislike WYSIWYG editors because the code was “yuck, ugly”, so I decided to learn HTML and CSS. And I lovedΒ it. It was my first experience with any kind of code. I was instantly hooked.

Teenage Years: PHP and MySQL

When I turned 13, I begged my dad to let me use his credit card and then repay him so I could buy my own domain. It took some convincing and explaining what a domain and web host was, but he finally agreed πŸ˜„ (Love you, dad!) I now had my own little playground. From there, I moved on to learning PHP and MySQL to power my blog (before they were called blogs) and a bunch of fansites I was running. (I may have been a geeky outsider with no friends, but I was still a teenage girl who loved boybands! 🎢)

High School: Graphic Design

In Upper Secondary School, similar to High School, I chose to study Media and Communication. For the first time, I received formal education in subjects that were also my hobbies: web design, web development, and graphic design. I spent three years working with Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, and I loved every minute of it. While I considered becoming a graphic designer and even interviewed for internships, I eventually decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree instead.

University: Java

I started studying Computer Science / Information Technology with an Interactive Design specialization. During my first year, I was introduced to Java programming. I immediately fell in love. It was so much fun building programs and making them work! So I switched from Interactive Design over to Programming instead. After three years, I was one of only three women to graduate in a class of thirty.

Microsoft University: SharePoint

I briefly worked with SharePoint in university, and that’s when I learned about Microsoft University, a collaboration between Microsoft and Microsoft partner companies. You submit one application to Microsoft, which is then sent to all the partners. The partners decide if they want to proceed with an interview, and finally if they want to hire you. If they do, you get accepted into Microsoft University, where you get to kickstart your career. You get about six weeks of intensive training, followed by one or more Microsoft certifications. While studying, you get a full salary from your new employer. This is a fantastic program, and I’m so proud and happy that I was accepted into it. I learned a ton about SharePoint… which I never used again πŸ˜‚

Present: Business Intelligence Consultant

After my intensive SharePoint training at Microsoft University, I started working as a SharePoint consultant. There was just one problem. They didn’t have any SharePoint projects! So they put me on a Data Warehouse project instead. Hey, it was still Microsoft, right? 😁

And that’s where I’ve been for the past ten years. I’ve worked as a full-time consultant, in-house employee, independent consultant, and I even spent one year building up my soft skills as a community evangelist within the global Microsoft SQL Server and Data Platform community. Now I’m back to full-time consulting. It’s been ten exciting years, all focused around Microsoft Business Intelligence in one way or another. And this is where I want to stay - at least for a while 😊

To sum it up…

The long answer to why I’m a Business Intelligence consultant is because I accidentally ended up as one. I could just as easily have ended up as a graphic designer, Java programmer, or SharePoint developer.

But the short answer to why I do what I do is because I love it πŸ₯° I get to use all my skills, I get to help people, and I get to give back by being involved in my community. It’s challenging and rewarding. And as long it is, I’ll keep doing it!

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About the Author

Professional headshot of Cathrine Wilhelmsen.Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, international speaker, author, blogger, organizer, and chronic volunteer. She loves data and coding, as well as teaching and sharing knowledge - oh, and sci-fi, gaming, coffee and chocolate πŸ€“