A year ago today, Paul Randal (Blog | Twitter) first blogged about my joining the SQLskills team as the first full time employee.  I can still remember the first time that I met Paul at SQL PASS in 2008, and I am still amazed that I work with the best in the industry over a year after working out the details of my employment with SQLskills.  I remember the first time that Paul and I discussed the potential for me joining SQLskills, and how hard it was to tell him at the time that there was no way it would work out for either of us.  Joshua Harris once said, “The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing” and nothing could be further from the truth as far as my employment with SQLskills.  When Paul and I first discussed the possibility of me joining the SQLskills team, I knew ahead of time that my Army Reserve unit was pending a year long mobilization in early 2011 so that became the first, and as it turned out, last point of discussion about employment feasibility.  Legally there is no requirement for me to disclose this type of information when seeking employment, and further if disclosed this information can not be used as a part of the selection criteria, but I have always not only been proud of my service in the US Army Reserves, but have also been incredibly sensitive to the needs of potential employers when discussing job opportunities.  The end result was that we mutually agreed that the timing wasn’t right and we’d keep open communications about changes should they occur, such that if an employment possibility reopened we’d discuss it again further.  Fast forward a few months and the opportunity once again posed itself, but at this point it was clear the circumstances worked out to be mutually beneficial and we ultimate struck a deal that lead to me joining SQLskills full time as employee number three (it actually says this on my semi-annual review). 

For nearly six years, Paul has been a fabulous mentor of mine, dating back to before he left the product group at Microsoft, based on our forums interactions.  We actually have a very interesting background for solving problems related to SQL Server that have happened in very public venues, for example the Diskeeper 2010 issues that we figured out on Twitter late in 2010.  One of the highlights of my career as a DBA was the first time that Paul asked me to call him out of the blue, when he first broached the topic of joining SQLskills as a consultant.  I remember discussing things, and at the end of the call where we mutually agreed that it wasn’t a good fit at the time, wondering what in the world I had just done.  Looking back, that had to be one of the best decisions of my life, though I didn’t realize it at the time.  Over the ensuing months, I had the opportunity to grow as a SQL Server professional, working in one of the most challenging environments of my life, while learning more about the internals of SQL Server than I ever thought I would.  Before I ever accepted a position with SQLskills, I privately took the written exam for the new SQL Server MCM and passed, and upon passing the written exam, I privately scheduled my lab exam with Joe Sack.  The day after Paul first blogged about me joining SQLskills, I passed the Lab Exam for the SQL Server MCM and became the fourth, and youngest, SQL Server MCM under the new program.

In the year since the initial announcement I’ve made a number of changes.  First off, being a consultant is not what it might seem from the outside looking in.  This is without a doubt one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had, and every day brings forth new challenges both technically and personally.  Additionally I’ve had to learn how to be an efficient trainer as an instructor for not only the SQLskills Immersion Events, but also the Microsoft SharePoint MCM program as well.  I definitely have the best mentors around for learning how to not only be an effective consultant, but also how to be an effective trainer as well.  Since joining the SQLskills team I have had a top rated session at SQLRally in Orlando, FL, presented at multiple Immersion Events, both public and private, as well as doing my first pre-conference seminar at PASS 2011 on Extended Events.  Along the way I’ve experienced both success and failure, but no matter what the feedback, I’ve been able to grow from the experiences in an incredibly positive manner. 

Personally I can’t imagine having a better year than the last one overall, but I am sure going to try!