Many of you know that Redgate purchased some of the assets of PASS, namely session recordings, domain names, and trademarks. Shortly after that purchase, we began talking about what it would take to put on an event to revive PASS Summit.
The first step was to survey to find out what people liked and wanted to see in a new event. We found that learning pathways, networking, on-demand sessions, and Q&A sessions with speakers were the most popular.
Quite a bit of work is going on right now for the event to be held November 8 – 12th. It will be online and free to attend except for pre-cons. In this post, I’ll explain what we are doing to build the program.
Forming the new Program Committee
Grant Fritchey, Marcella McKeown (a former PASS HQ employee), and I make up the Program Management team. We’ve also formed a 19-member Program Committee to select the general sessions.
To get started building the committee, I reached out to ten of the Friends of Redgate. We knew that many of them were enthusiastic about the Summit and wanted to help. I put out a call on Twitter for the remaining volunteers, and a notice was added to the pass.org page. The response was overwhelming! We ended up with a diverse committee with people from around the world and differing levels of experience.
Now that the call for speakers is closed, we plan to have the committee do a blind review and rank sessions based on the merits of the submissions and build a balanced program that fits with the themes and tracks for the free online conference. The special projects team in the committee will do a final review to look for gaps in content and make sure that the program represents the community well.
We are especially hoping to give speakers who have never presented at PASS Summit in the past a chance to present this year and to maintain the high-quality content that the Summit is renowned for.
Maintaining the quality of the Pre-Conference Seminars
To ensure the all-day pre-conference seminars are high quality with diverse topics and people, we went through the following process for selection.
First, we gathered what data we had from previous Summit pre-cons. We were able to sort the speakers by the most attendance and the highest ratings. Instead of requiring these individuals to submit a pre-con, we simply asked them to submit one directly, pre-approved.
In addition, we reached out to a few individuals, not to submit pre-cons, but to advise us on a more diverse group of speakers. We tried to find people from different backgrounds and locales than the usual set of speakers. These were all people who had not previously provided a pre-con at the Summit. We then reached out to the recommended individuals directly, again, offering them a pre-con if they wanted. Some of both groups accepted, and some did not, for a variety of reasons.
Finally, we’re also reviewing pre-con submissions from the open call for speakers so that individuals have the opportunity to be selected through the standard process. Between these three sets of individuals, we think we can provide excellent content from a diverse group that meets the needs of the community.
While the PASS Data Community Summit is a free online event, we’ve made the decision to put a price-tag on the pre-cons. There is an incredible amount of work needed from pre-con speakers to prep for and deliver an all-day pre-conference seminar. The decision was made very early on to ensure that all the proceeds go directly to the speakers. Thus incentivized, it can’t but add to the quality of the content being delivered.
Adding value to the Learning Pathways
We also have been preparing the Learning Pathways. First, we came up with nine topics for the pathways and a speaker from the community to lead each topic. While it’s tempting to make this list extensive, we also realized that we need to leave room for sessions chosen by the committee, so it can’t include everything. Here’s the list of topics:
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Become an Azure Data Engineer
- Data Security and Governance
- DBA Basics
- Migrating to the Cloud
- Power BI
- Query Basics
- Query Tuning
We asked each lead speaker to come up with three to six speakers to fill out the pathway. Overall, the pathway speakers represent the diversity in the community, and we are happy that it includes some speakers new to PASS Summit. The pathway teams are building the pathway sessions, and we are trusting them to come up with learning pathways that are educational and valuable without input from us.
The PASS Data Community Summit is a real community event. We are doing our best to make sure that all are included, and that it will be a great experience. Please watch for announcements over the next few months.