The New PASS Executive Committee of 2014

I’m sure you can understand the high level of interest I have in the internal affairs and governance of PASS.  After all, I was one of the founders of the organization way back in 1999 and was president for four years from 2003 through 2006 (fondly remembered as “the hardest fricken years of my life”).

So I was keenly interested when the latest press release from PASS named the incoming PASS Executive Committee to take their seats on January 1st, 2014. The executive committee is composed of the officers of the organization, that is, directors who are empowered to sign contracts and to speak on behalf of PASS in public settings.  As anyone who’s worked on a committee can tell you, they are s…l…o…w.  With that in mind, the PASS board of directors long ago established the executive committee (ExeCo, pronounced “Exec – Coe”) to act on behalf of the board when speed and expediency are required, for example, in negotiations where going back and forth with the board and an external partner would simply take way too long and would make the partner throw up their hands in exasperation.

Another bit of backstory to the creation of the ExeCo.  It was also put in place as a check and balance against a president who might be arbitrary, capricious, or venal.  At that time, the bylaws gave much greater powers to the president and although all the previous presidents had been faultless, the board thought it’d be a good idea to make sure that future boards wouldn’t have to deal with a power grab by an ambitious or crony-coddling president decades in the future.  Hence the requirement that even the ExeCo must vote on and come to consensus on the activities that they execute on their own.

Here are a few thoughts from me about the incoming ExeCo.  Keep in mind that I’ve known them all for years and call all of them friends:

  • President: Thomas LaRock
    • I recall first meeting Tom way back in the early 2000’s when he was a volunteer for PASS and a lead DBA at a major financial house in New England.  Tom was a hardworking and committed volunteer, as well as an up and coming blogger.  Some leaders are conservative and unlikely to change much, if anything, that a big organization does.  As president, I believe that Tom is likely to inject innovation into PASS by making some big bets on growing the organization and better serving the community.
  • Executive Vice President, Finance: Adam Jorgensen
    • The first time I got to sit down and talk with Adam was in Tucson, several years ago, while we were both recording some video for Steve Wynkoops  I was immediately impressed by his business and financial acumen, over and above his technical skills. There are few skills more sorely needed on a board of directors than business and financial skills. Like Tom, Adam is a doer with a lot of energy and the will to get things done, and a history of executing successfully on his projects.  I think that Adam will help deliver on the new, big bets that are in PASS’ future as well to help transform the internal governance of the organization to be more effective and efficient.
  • Vice President, Marketing: Denise McInerney
    • It seems like Denise has been an informal leader and influencer in PASS almost since the beginning, when she launched our Women In Technology (WIT) initiative way back in the early 2000’s.  Because of her hard work, PASS was one of the very first IT professional organizations to have a dedicated WIT community.  (The Sybase community did it just a year or two before we did).  She’s one of the smartest people I know with amazing people skills and a very high EQ. That combination equals wisdom and, if you asked me, I’d take a wise person over a smart one any day of the week.  I’m especially looking forward to what she’s going to do around growth and marketing in our global regional structure.

Welcome to the ExeCo of 2014, y’all!

One thing I’d like to see from the three of you (plus, Bill Graziano, who will step into the role of Immediate Past President) is a statement of direction or a vision statement.  It’d be very informative to see where you want the organization to go in the years ahead.

What would I like to see in 2014 and beyond?  Here are a few quick thoughts:

  1. Implement a streamlined and cohesive approach to enabling volunteers to sign up to help the organization.  Many potential volunteers walk away from PASS disappointed because there’s no one to talk with about implementing a cool idea or building out an interesting capability for the organization.  I’d like to see a means by which people in our community can successfully offer to do things such as IT projects for PASS (build a webpage, analyze some data, etc).  With a few exceptions like the Summit Program Committee, PASS could stand to do a complete rebuild of its volunteer strategy and processes.
  2. Finalize its structure around global growth.  PASS has done extremely well growing eastward and southward into Eastern Europe, Africa, and South America especially through the SQL Saturday events.  It needs to take that growth in once per year events into the Pacific rim and then leapfrog into fully formed chapters, with regularly scheduled meetings, in a well-defined worldwide organizational structure.
  3. Devise and execute a better and more cohesive partnerships with their sponsor community. PASS still approaches sponsors, like my employer, from the standpoint of exhibitors at the big annual conference.  But PASS could do so much more to make the relationship a solid partnership, offering back to their sponsors a global community with year-round contact 100’s of thousands of members of PASS.
  4. Build a social media strategy. PASS exists on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  But I wouldn’t say that they exploit it.
  5. Continue the effort started at the PASS Business Analytics Conference to define and coalesce the market for business analytics. Nobody else is doing a good job in this space, so PASS should step in and take that goal to the next level.

I’m sure there’s a lot more you’d probably like to see from PASS and many other good ideas.  But this is where my head is at for the moment.  How about you?  Tell me what you think!

Best regards,


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