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  • Writer's pictureSean Forgatch

Mentors, the value of PASS, and some of my Story

Andy Leonard and I at SQL Saturday Atlanta, 2019

I finally met Andy Leonard, who up until this point I've considered an indirect mentor of mine. This has been a long time in the making, but first, lets take a step back to 2015.

Up until June 21st of 2015, I didn't quite understand my purpose or direction in life, I had been working in data and analytics already for healthcare providers in Missouri and Wisconsin, but I didn't quite know what was around the corner, or where I would be in 5 years. For my age, I was already well ahead in my career, but still, that success didn't apply to a purpose or an understanding one. Without going into my past(we all have one), I found Christ on June 21st, 2015. From there, my life changed forever.

I took at job after this at Zywave, a leading software company based in Milwaukee, WI. Taking on the role of their first ETL Engineer, under the management of a very talented DBA, Jeff Stanlick. I knew I wasn't headed down the path of Database Administration but did find my love for Data Warehousing, ETL, etc. I knew this is where my career was heading, but I had a lot of learning to do! So I started reading, A LOT! I started reading technical books and blogs such as:

  • SQL Server Integration Services Design Patterns

  • The BIML Book

  • Stairway to Integration Services

..all authored by Andy.

This was the year I also discovered PASS SQL Saturday, my first event I attended was at SQL Saturday Madison, I recall this was the last year Jes Borland led the event before going off to Microsoft. Jes was also running the PASS User Group in Northeast Wisconsin, the location in which I conducted my first speaking engagement(a lightning talk that lasted longer than the 15 minutes allocated) :) I would ultimately go on to lead this chapter later on in 2018 before moving to Chicago, IL. Jes, thank you for all the opportunities, encouragement, and support you've given!

So, at this event two things happened(and for context, I believe everything happens for a reason!),

  • 1. I won the only raffle prize I've ever won from one of the sponsors -Talavant(a BI and Analytics firm in Madison and Milwaukee, WI.)

  • 2. A few weeks later I was interviewed and hired by Talavant(I realized later that I had won their prize) as my first step into true consulting(I had done some contracting on the side before) as their first non-senior level consultant(I was employee #8, they are now up to #22), so what that really means, is they were taking a chance on me, I quickly showed value and was promoted to Senior Consultant. I would go on to learn a lot of what I know and make life long friends at this firm. Thank you Dave DuVarney for taking that chance!

By the time the next SQL Saturday Madison rolled around, I was speaking at my first SQL Saturday. No, it was not that great of a session! But you learn, and improve! Now, I've done over countless SQL Saturdays and over 20 user group talks since 2016 such as:

  • Cincinnati

  • Orlando

  • San Diego

  • Madison(x2)

  • Chicago

  • Atlanta - where I am as I write this!

  • Dallas

  • Iowa City

  • Wausau

I recently took a new role at Avanade as a Senior Consultant having the opportunity to help design the best possible solutions for some of the companies that serve us across the globe in areas of data strategy, big data, and data warehousing.Also, through that role I've been incredibly blessed with not only the opportunity itself, but the opportunity to start and give back!

So, Andy Leonard. I finally got a chance to meet you and sit down for awhile to talk about data, our walk with God, and just life in general. You've played a huge part in my life by spreading your knowledge and faith. I look forward to seeing you again friend!

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