As announced last week, after five and a half years with Microsoft I’m joining SQLskills as “Employee #4”.  I start my new job Monday and I thought I would take this quiet Sunday morning to write an off-SQL-topic blog post.


Microsoft has been very good to me over the years and I’m grateful for the friendships and life changing experiences.


So why leave a good thing? It takes some explaining…


I first met Kimberly and Paul a few years ago, watching them teach and following their work as separate entities and then later when they joined forces. In 2010 I had an opportunity to work very closely with them (and several other great people) on the SQL MCM re-launch activities. I of course truly respected their work and really appreciated their professionalism. There was also a certain energy about the collaboration that stuck with me and it was obvious that they absolutely loved what they did for a living.


I recently took stock of my own career path and trajectory. Only a few months ago I had moved into a new role as program manager.  I joined a very talented team of other program managers and writers – and I also had the opportunity to work with several luminaries across various organizations in Microsoft. My day-to-day responsibilities included a significant amount of project management, including the creation of what I’ll call “meta-documentation” (specifications, presentations, planning spreadsheets, proposals, vision documents). And while I was accountable for the finished product described in these meta-documents, I wasn’t going to be the one actually creating the proposed products.  


Without a doubt, all of this planning and vetting work was important and needed to be done – but I very quickly realized that my heart just wasn’t in it. I asked myself if this was truly what I wanted to be doing for the next few years. After a tipping point, I realized that I needed to execute a course correction.


I looked back at my last 14 years of working with SQL Server and realized that my happiest career moments consisted of a balance of solving interesting customer problems, being immersed in technical subjects, writing about things I’ve encountered and also mentoring others when such assistance was requested. This is what has sustained me and motivated me over the years.


I realized that Kimberly and Paul get to do these things for a living.  Being invited to join them was an offer that aligned with the work I love to do and was a rare opportunity.


If that wasn’t incentive enough, I would also get a chance to work directly with Jonathan Kehayias. I’ve followed his great work for a while – well before he became an MCM. I also had the good fortune to work with Bob Beauchemin on the SQL MCM re-launch effort, and as a partner consultant with SQLskills I looked forward to the opportunity of working with him again.  (I’m also looking forward to finally meeting Stacia Misner in person someday – having only exchanged emails with her in the past).


So there you have it! I hope this didn’t sound too much like a pageant speech – but it was hard to contain the fact that I’m really happy and ready to get to work. Paul and Kimberly already have client engagements lined up for me out of the gate.


Regarding this blog moving forward, the recipe seems pretty straightforward.  I’ll write about interesting customer problems, investigate tough questions, debate findings (and no doubt be debated with) and share discoveries.


I want to close out this post with a quote from a recent New York Times article “Do Happier People Work Harder?” that really stuck with me:

A clear pattern emerged when we analyzed the 64,000 specific workday events reported in the diaries: of all the events that engage people at work, the singlemost important — by far — is simply making progress in meaningful work.”

Seems like a simple formula that I’ll keep focused on moving forward.