3 Ways Business Observation Catalyzes SQL Server DBA Job Growth
By: Ben Weiss
In February 2013, I published an article for Dice News that laid out why it’s so valuable for Microsoft-specialized technical professionals to supplement their technical knowledge with business acumen.
For a quick recap, one of our all-star candidates (who since went on to become the Chief Technology Officer of a major hedge fund) was working a financial Windows Systems Engineering job in New York City proper. Though his role left him in a small technical silo, he independently began to dig into the industry itself.
With that understanding, he started pitching ideas as to how technical solutions could solve business problems, increase efficiency and yield cost savings. Naturally, this caught the attention of senior leadership who saw him as an interdepartmental bridge and his multi-faceted approach to the job made him less dispensable than virtually all his colleagues.
As a follow up of sorts, I’ve been collaborating with my friend Ayman El-Ghazali - a database administrator and BI developer in the D.C. area - to better appreciate how this hybrid skill set can catalyze job growth for the SQL Server community in particular.
Interestingly, as an employee of the American College of Cardiology, Ayman had the opportunity to break out of the data center and observe open heart surgery. Not only was it an interesting personal experience, but observing the surgical practice afforded him far superior insight into the data he was responsible for analyzing and reporting, providing greater meaning for his technical work.
[Check out our recent post ‘How to Destroy Motivation in Information Technology’ to learn how the importance of meaning for technical professionals has been quantified in the behavioral sciences.’]
Ayman extrapolated a number of valuable lessons from his experience interacting with the ‘business side’ of his employing firm and for the past few weeks weI have been working together to put those lessons into a detailed seven page guide that we’ve entitled “How To Avoid a Database Heart Attack.”
While we highly recommend checking out the resource in its entirety, here are a few cliff notes that explain why this non-technical observation and interaction is such a powerful job catalyst for SQL Server DBAs and developers.
1) You develop a superior appreciation for team dynamics
During open heart surgery, success results from a series of diversely specialized professionals all working together towards the same goal. You have the surgeon actually making incisions with the scalpel, the nurse grafting veins from the leg, a Perfusion Technician automating breathing and blood pumping for the patient.
Moreover, not only are they bringing different skill sets to the table for a unified final goal - saving the patient’s life - but all their activity was happening simultaneously to increase efficiency.
According to Ayman, “One common problem I see in the workplace is technical professionals want to do their individual part and not collaborate with others … those developers who don’t care how Business Analysts (BAs) collect requirements and those BAs who aren’t concerned with how the code works.”
Considering the pace and complexities of the modern Information Technology landscape, that perspective simply doesn’t cut it. Tech teams need to be more nimble than ever and that means having appreciation and collaboration between engineers, developers, administrators, architects and leadership.
2) You have better understanding of monitoring and disaster recovery
When considering open heart surgery, you may ponder what could have been done to prevent such a serious health problem. It’s also important to remember that open heart surgery is one of several other options (for example, a heart transplant) that doctors evaluate before identifying their best option to fix the patient.
This brings up the point that SQL Server specialists need to be proactive in understanding and evaluating all their disaster recovery options (such as AlwaysOn Availability Groups and Full server failover clustering) to determine which can best secure the integrity of their data. At the same time, it’s important to recognize when hardware is simply too far gone and replace when necessary.
3) You understand the importance of surpassing the call of duty
While watching the surgery, Ayman discovered a veteran, retired cardiologist was assisting with the process while a nurse took time out of her schedule to narrate what was going on to the observers from the IT department.
This highlights the point that in IT, it might not be that hard to ‘get by.’ Nonetheless, there is incredible value in surpassing the duties of your job description … understanding the breadth of your impact by collaborating across departments, sharing your knowledge with others through blogging and public speaking and tinkering with new technologies in your free time.
That’s the kind of thing that separates the solid SQL Server professionals from those who are imminently promotable and positioned for long term career success. And of course, that kind of thing is good for the heart.
All that being said, go ahead and get all the details in the guide by clicking on the call to action below.
About Infusive Solutions:
Infusive Solutions is a Manhattan-based niche technical staffing in the Microsoft Partner Network specializing in SQL Server jobs in New York City.