#SQLVacation Postcard from Indianapolis, IN

KevinEKline.com SQLVacation Indianapolis Postcard 01

For some people, Indianapolis means one thing, and one thing only – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (a.k.a “The Brickyard”)  and the Indianapolis 500. In my case, it means several times speaking at IndyPASS, the local SQL Server User Group, over the last 10 years. I first spoke at IndyPASS with the then head of Microsoft’s Business Intelligence product line, Bill Baker. Bill was a big racing fan and, fortuitously, the user group leaders were happy to accommodate his request to speak in time to see the big race.

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I also got the chance back in 2005-2006 to see a hilarious comedian known as Buck Foley. (Lloyd Work is a local IT guy, a programmer by day, and a Chris Farley impersonator by night). Suffice it to say that Buck is a motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river. And he knows IT like no other comedian I’ve ever seen. Check him out online, especially if you can’t come see him in person.

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While this #SQLVacation means lots of free time for “the Horde” (that’s my nickname for my 7 kids), I’ll still be working. Today’s agenda for my wife and the four out of our seven kids on this roadtrip includes a day at Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the largest in the world. My hope is that they’ll get to see something really exciting, like the world’s largest turnip. That’s just the way Clark Griswold would want it. Perhaps they’ll stop by the site of Wonder Bread where they literally invented sliced bread. (Everybody keeps trying to tell me that their invention is the best thing since Wonder Bread. But I know better!) Or they might swing by for a selfy at the Slippery Noddle Inn where bullets are still embedded in the walls from the Al Brady and John Dillinger gang shout outs. Or, best in my book, would be a visit to the Indiana Medical History Museum for a chance to gander at a room full of pickled human brains. Wow!

The Indy event will be crowded and fun. Why? Because it’s their 10th Anniversary Birthday Bash! The program starts at 5:30 PM with catering by Dick’s Bodacious BBQ and entertainment. The session for this event will be Ten Query Tuning Techniques Every SQL Programmer Should Know (feel free to use the link to download the slide deck from SlideShare).

So let’s get to know the Indianapolis even better by talking with Ray Lucas, the lead volunteer for IndyPASSTwitter and LinkedIn

  • When did you begin your professional career? I graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelors in Computer Information Technology in 1995. Back then I was learning all things database on the dreaded O word…you know Oracle. 🙂 I spent two summers as a college intern at Allison Engine in the early 90’s, using a temp agency to snag a job as a receptionist, covering for someone out on leave. I then networked my way into a job for the remainder of the summer and the next. I have fun stories about how the oil pumps  are made for V-22 Osprey vertical takeoff airplanes. I was right at home with the engineers. Upon graduation, I started my professional career back in 1995, working with, you guessed it, Oracle. My studies at Purdue included PL/SQL, and that landed me a job supporting applications, designing databases, and writing code. From there I spent the next 7 years implementing applications, but not just database related tasks. I became the jack of all trades, generalist IT guy who got the projects that didn’t fit into a specific mold. That has been the precedent for my career ever since. I spent years as an infrastructure project manager, Manager of a Business Intelligence Team, responsible for reporting strategy for a Fortune 500 company. I was the lead BI architect for a well-known Indy based high end audio company. I moved to consulting 7 years ago, and was asked to run an infrastructure migration for our managed services arm. That move has been my focus ever since, as I now am an Infrastructure Execution Lead, responsible for large scale IT infrastructure migrations, most recently full IT integrations of manufacturing plants in the Mergers and Acquisitions space. Like I said, that general IT, just give it to Ray thing paid dividends, as I think I have a decent grasp on how IT works, both from a business and technical perspective, which allows me to take on large IT projects.
  • What’s a normal day at work like for you? Calls from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm with my European clients (UK, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland). Meetings in the early afternoon with US resources and South American clients (Columbia, Puerto Rico, Brazil). Real work from 3:00-5:00 pm. Calls from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm with my Chinese and Japanese clients. Sometimes I even get to travel to these counties. It is tiring, but the people are interesting, the work exciting, and I love it. After being out and about, not sure I can go back to a desk only job.
  • When did you come to Indy? I was born and raised in Seymour, Indiana, the small-town of John Mellencamp fame. I went to college 90 minutes north at Purdue University, studying Computer Information Technology. My summer internships in Indy helped me to establish local ties that drew me back to Indianapolis. I started my career here in 1995, and started helping with IndyPASS in 2005.
  • When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I went to the first IndyPASS Meeting as an attendee. A co-worked mentioned it and I decided that night to attend at the Microsoft Offices. The crowd was large, probably 150 or so to see Bill Baker from Microsoft. I was hooked. I knew I wanted to help in any way and offered my services the next meeting. Hearing that the group needed a place to meet, I secured the Conseco Conference Center where I worked at no cost to the group. I then became Sponsorship Director, Vice President, and now serve as President. IndyPASS has helped my career tremendously. My path to Executive Director of Managed Services and my current infrastructure role in Mergers and Acquisitions started with an IndyPASS sponsor. When I was downsized from an employer, an IndyPASS Sponsor and now a dear friend of mine, sold a job at her company with my name on the contract, insisting I work with her. She arranged for the role, the position, and the rest is history. Infrastructure projects have been my life ever since. In general, IndyPASS has furthered my career, helping me to understand how to lead, motivate and cultivate relationships. It has helped me to better understand the Indy IT community, and help connect others that might not otherwise know one another. I enjoy connecting job seekers with open positions, sponsors with potential customers, and most importantly IndyPASS attendees with opportunities to learn, grow, and develop the social networking skills so desperately needed in today’s Information Technology landscape. 
  • What is the IT community like there? IndyPASS draw folks from all over Indiana. We have regular attendees from as far north as Lafayette (90 minutes north), and as far south as Bloomington (90 minutes south). Attendees come from big companies like Caterpillar, insurance companies, small law firms, large and small consulting firms, managed services companies, software development companies, healthcare companies, and even professors from IUPUI here in downtown Indianapolis. The Indy tech community is vibrant and alive, with many start-ups rooting here in the Midwest and having great success doing so. I consider our attendees to be some of the brightest I’ve met, while still holding true to that humble Midwest way that brings them back to learn from anyone willing to speak and share their knowledge. 
  • What do you like about your city? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? Downtown Indianapolis is a fun, walkable city, with lots of monuments. Check out the Eli Lilly Museum at the base of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the circle before walking 300+ stairs to the top. Ever wonder why they call us the “Circle City“? The people in Indy are honest, friendly, and genuine. Catch an Indianapolis Indians baseball game. This Triple-A team is fun to watch and Victory Field is one of the best minor league parks in the country. If you are here in the winter, the Colts and Pacers both play at amazing facilities, with Bankers Life Fieldhouse voted the best sports arena in the country 12 years running. Check out the NCAA Museum. This is the home of the NCAA y’know. Check out the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the largest of its kind in the country. Last but certainly not least, take a trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500. The museum only costs a few dollars and you get to see all the cars that have won the Indy 500. Then take a couple laps around the famed 2.5 mile oval. There really is nothing more exciting than a race at IMS. 
  • What do you and your family enjoy doing in your city? Sports, sports and more sports. Indianapolis 500 in the spring. Indians baseball in the summer. Brickyard 400 and MotoGP motorcycle racing in the late summer. Pacers basketball and Colts Football in the winter. Microbreweries, microbreweries and more microbreweries. Beer is the new drink of choice these days in Indianapolis.

Ray’s IndyPASS History Highlights

  • First meeting took place on June 16, 2005 with Bill Baker of Microsoft.
  • IndyPASS was started by Bret Updegraf (first President) and John Magnabosco (first VP).
  • Crowe-Chizek (now Crowe-Horwath) seeded the group with $2000, allowing us to provide free meetings and eventually have the funds to secure a 501©3 status.
  • That non-profit status has really helped to secure annual sponsors, with IndyPASS never being below at least 3 active sponsors at any one time in its 10 year history.
  • IndyPASS currently has six (6) sponsors, in industries from consulting to managed services to hardware to software to recruiting.
  • Of the 120 potential meetings, only 3 have been cancelled due to weather. We only bow to Mother Nature when we have to. Otherwise, the learning must go on.
  • The IndyPASS email subscription base sits at just under 600.
  • Monthly meetings fluctuate in attendance, but average between 40 and 50 these days.
  • The largest IndyPASS crowd was right around 200 attendees at IndyPASS Birthday Bash v2.
  • Group members also actively manage Indianapolis SQL Saturday, which last year had over 300 registrations.
  • June 16, 2015 marks v10 of IndyPASS.
  • We are proud of the first 10 years of IndyPASS and look forward to the next 10 years of IndyPASS.

Ray’s Key Insights to User Group Success

  • Great Sponsors. IndyPASS relies on great sponsors to back and promote meetings, provide food and prizes, all with no charge to attendees.
  • Generous Hosts. Meetings have been hosted at Conseco, Microsoft, LANTech Training, Perpetual Technologies, and currently Apparatus, all at no cost to IndyPASS for all 10 years.
  • Engaged Technical Base. Indy has a great base of technical folks interested in all things data and technology who keep it fresh:
    • We span the SQL Server stack (and most systems that touch or rely upon SQL Server), with topics targeting DBA’s, infrastructure,  Business Intelligence, reporting, Big Data, Parallel Data Warehousing, ETL, Hadoop connectivity, SharePoint reliance, SQL Internals, data security, data backups, SQL Programming, etc. You name it and we have probably talked about it over the years.
  • Great people!
    • Past board members: Bret Updegraff (founder), John Magnabosco (founder), Jimmy May, Dave Leininger
    • Current Board Members: Ray Lucas (President), Kyle Neier (Vice President), Scott Stephens (Treasurer, he’s been here in this role since the beginning), Devin Lamb (IndyPASS Web Guru, the guy behind the emails), Aaron Cutshall (Sponsorship Director), Dexter Ploss (SWAG Director, DP finds the free giveaways better than anyone), Hope Foley (SQL Saturday Guru and Board Member), Alan Dykes (Board Member), Tom Ahler (Board Member and Ticket Guy), Ron Carrel (Board Member), Michael Goolsby (Board Member and IndyPASS Facilities, the room is ready when MG is involved)

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