As the ODTUG Board of Director election for the 2019-2020 term approaches, I get to reflect on my term as an ODTUG Director, on ODTUG in general and why I want to run again. This started small, then grew. There was lots of time and experience to cover!
You want to what? my husband asks. Then he laughs – that kooky, you-are-certainly-crazy-girl laugh. The one that says, “I have no clue why you do this, but clearly you love it, so have at it”.
Why do I love ODTUG?
Why do I do this stuff?
ODTUG is where I learned to be a mature technical professional. Sure, I had technical Oracle skills before I got to ODTUG. I had worked at General Electric writing automation engineering drafting applications – code that produced production drawings. At Computervision, writing CAD-CAM Architecture, Engineering and Drafting packages. Using a bit of Oracle there, about when that internet thing came to be. Then I worked in state and federal government (fisheries) agencies, on Oracle database. Forms, Reports, Discoverer, Designer. Then came Portal, then HTML-DB.
I was privileged to attend an IOUG Live conference – what a great way to learn! I volunteered – reviewing conference submissions. Presented! On Oracle Forms. Helped out with the IOUG SELECT Journal.
Then someone suggested I try ODTUG. They thought it might be a better fit, since I was a developer. Thank you, Bob Reidman, for that not-so-subtle nudge.
ODTUG has a spark, an indescribable vibe that you just don’t find at other user conferences. We are technical, committed, passionate and fun. Something happens when top technical experts and Oracle product teams combine, elbow to elbow to share and talk tech. That spark was evident in the first ODTUG I attended. And I don’t even remember which one it was. I got accepted to speak,on Oracle Forms and again, and JDeveloper for PL/SQL Developers (literally days before they split off SQL Developer as a separate product). I attended – still attend – both ODTUG and IOUG COLLABORATE conferences. By speaking and volunteering, I gained confidence in my skills, in myself as a professional. Good stuff.
But something is different about ODTUG Kscope. The level of technology, a bit higher. The intensity of learning, a bit higher. The technical focus and quality of presentations – higher. Willingness of presenters and attendees to sit down and talk shop – much higher. No one scatters at the end of the day – they hang out and gab, About Oracle and related technology. Geeky stuff. Non-stop learning. The connections made I use throughout the year – if I get stuck, I know who to go to. That was before things like the ODTUG listservs (now retired). And before the Oracle forums. And before apex.world. Now when I go to the Oracle forum or apex.world, I know who is answering – and someone always answers. Cool! Can’t buy that anywhere.
Of course I soon volunteered for ODTUG. Reviewing conference submissions, writing book reviews, then as Assistant Technical Editor. Then as Technical Editor when Donna Richey-Winkelman retired. (Thank you for all I learned from you, Donna!) When I took the ODTUG Technical Editor job, I had to resign as Associate Editor for the IOUG SELECT Journal. A bit much to do both, they said. The beauty of being an editor is that one gets to read content from all over, and meet the experts from all areas. All communities, all topics, I got to learn more, every month, I got to meet more people in the user groups, more people at Oracle. I guarantee many persons got tired of seeing me, they knew I was asking for another column, or another article. I wrote articles. Edited articles. Got to review early versions of the JDeveloper Handbook, by Peter Koletzke and Paul Dorsey. What a privilege to learn editing from Peter Koletzke! (Many Thank You’s, Peter!)
I will say about this time, there was the unexplained, unspoken division between ODTUG and IOUG. I was told, “One is for DBAs, one is for Developers, and the two do not mix”. I did not believe that then, and I do certainly not believe that now. A smart developer knows what a DBA does, at least sufficient to ensure all applications run securely and efficiently. A smart DBA knows what developers are doing and how best to support them so the applications run securely and efficiently. Now, the roles are more blurred – with Dev Ops, even more so. My hope is that mythical IOUG-ODTUG split, which seems to be getting smaller, gets totally forgotten soon.
Back to ODTUG.
The connections I made through ODTUG convinced me to go into consulting. (Thank you Scott Spendolini and Doug Gault!). Who knew, I still work for that same client, though now directly, owing to a few buyouts and an odd set of circumstances. I would never have had the courage to make the jump to consulting without the support of ODTUG and the connections I made therein. With the friends I had made in ODTUG, I knew I had the technical support I needed, I had the consulting support I needed, and if all failed, I knew where to go to look for work. Fortunately, I have not been out of work since ( knock on wood).
I keep up with the latest versions of the Oracle database, or APEX, of ORDS, SQL Developer, and all sorts of earlier tools – JDeveloper, Application Server, HTTP Server, Discoverer, (I am dating myself …). By presenting at, and attending ODTUG KScope, and attending webinars, and meetups when they are local, I have a bounty of training that I cannot match anywhere. I do not have the time nor the budget for formal weeks of training on one or two topics. Plus, as a consultant, it is my job to stay ahead of the curve – to be able to advise my clients on the next steps for their installations. Fortunately I do best when I am learning – good thing in this field, as it never ends.
ODTUG, as an organization, has a mission:
To establish members as leaders in their organizations through education, timely access to the latest information, communication, and networking within the community, and provide a united voice to influence the strategic direction of Oracle and other vendors.
As long as ODTUG follows that mission, I can keep working, keep learning, keep current technically, keep a great bunch of friends and connections. And be a solid technical professional.
This term as a Board member, I was engaged in – am still engaged in – the following activities. If/when elected to a new term, I wish to follow on with these activities, passing some on to newer Board members, and in turn rolling on to new committees as they may fit ODTUG’s strategic direction.
- Leadership Program, Board Advisor – The ODTUG Leadership Program prepares selected ODTUG members for leadership positions within their current organizations, or for that next step. LP persons read a leadership text, attended a series of online presentations and discussions and execute a group project, the topic of which changes year to year. The LP is NOT “how to be an ODTUG leader”. However, if we do our job right in the LP, the graduates will want to stay on and give back to ODTUG. It is totally rewarding to watch younger (time-wise, not age-wise) workers grow as the series progresses. The project usually separates the leaders from the maybe-not-so-much leaders. It is fascinating how persons grow within this simple program. Due to certain opportunities, I initiated a post-LP mentoring program, underway now, and possibly ongoing. I know I am getting a lot out of this – I hope the participants are gaining as well.
- Emerging Technology Committee
- Alternative Revenue Committee – Investigate alternative forms of revenue for ODTUG – non-conference revenue. Options include smaller conferences, alternate membership models, various forms of outreach and training options.
- Marketing Liaison – Review and recommend on ODTUG and ODTUG Kscope marketing materials – social media, email blasts, conference advertising.
- APEX Community Liaison – The APEX community essentially runs itself, yet there are occasional need for planning for Kscope community activities, exchanging requests from the community, planning webinars, assistance in planning meetups.
I am also involved in committees working on future not-yet-to-be-disclosed projects. All good stuff that may or may not going forward, depending on initial research.
While serving as Editor of the Technical Journal, each year there was a corresponding Editor’s Choice Award for the best white paper – remember them – out of the ODTUG Kscope conference materials. Yes, presenters used to submit both a white paper and a presentation for each conference they attended. The white papers served as materials for the ODTUG members, part of the overall ODTUG library.
The Editor’s Choice award reviews – an annual read-fest where a small group literally read and graded/ranked every paper submitted to the conference. At one point there were 125 papers. Then papers became optional, then we went to 76, then 65, the eventually 25, then lower. The beauty of the Editor’s Choice reviews was that one got to read most of the conference material before the conference. Like attending the conference before the fact. I learned more about Hyperion and Essbase through those papers than I ever knew existed. By far, our Hyperion/EPM community is the most prolific!
In 2011, as part of our Long Beach conference, I participated in the general session reality-TV vote-off. I got to learn the American Idol Pants on the Ground song, and gave my husband (and no doubt many others) another good laugh. For kicks and grins, check out those 2011 general session videos.
General Session Skits
Long Beach marked the first full video intermissions general session. Prior to that, the Board members did skits of varying topics and craziness. Some persons question why we traditionally have fun, even silly intermissions for our general sessions. There are no hard set reasons. But I like them. They are part of ODTUG.
- They are fun.
- They show a sense of community. The Board works hard all year. This lets us goof off a bit, and hopefully get our members to take a breather and laugh a bit as well.
- Technology can be dull. Comic relief is just that.
- We need intros for awards.
- They demonstrate that ODTUG is just a bit different. Not stuffy, not dry, not dark suit serious.
- They send the message, “Prepare to have fun here, too. As you learn.”
In 2012, I was awarded the ODTUG Volunteer award – a surprise for sure. And a huge honor. And yes, they caught me off guard on that one.
When the Editor’s Choice was retired – mainly due to lack of papers – I initiated the ODTUG Innovation Award in 2016. The Innovation Award honrs technical excellence and innovation in the use of Oracle technology over the past year. Innovative, Wow! stuff. We have had great entries every year – and awesome winners: Mia Urman, Vincent Morneau, and Stewart Bryson. Any many more to come!
The ODTUG Innovation Award opens in April, closes before KScope in sufficient time for a panel of judges to evaluate the submission and award a winner, announced at KScope. Best luck to all future submissions!
In short, I originally joined ODTUG to learn. I originally volunteered to give back. As a senior ODTUG member, developer and consultant, I bring a quiet, steady, long-term perspective to the ODTUG Board that is needed to balance the enticements of the “next new thing” with the need to deliver practical, get-the-work-done knowledge to our members.
I ask for your vote for reelection to the ODTUG Board of Directors to ensure that the ODTUG spark, and the ODTUG flow of knowledge continues.