WIT Wednesday

On the fourth Wednesday of each month, the Women in Technology Virtual Chapter of PASS has its monthly conference call to discuss and plan upcoming WIT activities, be it SQL Saturday WIT panels or the WIT luncheon at the annual PASS Summit. To help promote women in technology, I’m declaring the fourth Wednesday of each month “WIT Wednesday” here at the Cleveland DBA.

WIT Spotlight: Christina Leo

This month’s PASS woman in the spotlight is Idera Ace Christina Leo (b | t).  Christina is a database developer/administrator, prolific speaker, intrepid traveler, fellow whisky-lover, and kettlebell-swinger from Nashville, TN Boston, MA.

You work for a large company now, but you began at a small software start-up. What did you learn from that experience?

I think the most important lesson that I learned is that there is no such thing as “comfort zone”. When there are only a handful of you, you must be willing to wear whatever hat needs wearing to get the job done and move forward. Having the courage and drive to try things that seem uncomfortable at first will open a lot of doors. I’m often asked how a special education teacher ended up as a SQL Server developer. The short answer is that I kept trying on hats until I found the one that fit.

How has being an Idera ACE impacted your career?

Community is the first word that comes to mind when considering how to answer this question. The ACE program was put together to help Idera connect with the SQL Server community, and I think that benefit goes both ways. Having the funds to speak at more events has allowed me to meet and connect with many more SQL folks. Having a bigger grapevine, so to speak, means I hear about job opportunities that others might not. Additionally, giving presentations is a bit like having a walking resume. It lets you get your foot a bit farther in the door when pursuing new challenges, simply because folks already know something about your skills. Want to move up to bigger and better things? Get out there and start connecting with the people who can make that happen. Start by volunteering with your local user group. Opportunities will abound from there.

What’s your next challenge?

In late August, an opportunity presented itself to do some contract work for a large investment fund management group in Boston. I was ready for a change, so I jumped at the chance. I absolutely loved the area when I flew up for my final interviews, so I decided to pick up stakes and relocate altogether. I started my first week on October 15th, and I’m thrilled with the decision to go this route. I’m getting to work with some super sharp folks, and the development work is well beyond what I had been getting to do before. The database and its usage requirements are very specialized. All sorts of tricks have been implemented to make things work efficiently. I’ve got a whole new industry to learn, along with bringing my T-SQL ninja skills up to par. We often talk about “drinking from the fire hose” when we describe some of the 500-level sessions at the PASS Summit. Working at this new gig feels very much like that. The next several months will be spent absorbing every bit that I can as fast as I can.

You travel quite a bit, can you share with us a memorable experience?

This is a tough one. I do love travelling to new places and have been blessed with the opportunity to go all over the U.S. as well as many places overseas. Two summers ago, I went on SQL Cruise Alaska. Besides getting to spend the week with some awfully smart SQL folks, I got to see some pretty amazing scenery. Glacier Bay was absolutely breathtaking; however, the highlight excursion for me was snorkeling in Ketchikan. While swimming through the middle of a kelp field, I suddenly remembered my teenage self, eagerly reading through dive magazines and hoping I would have a chance to visit some of the amazing places I was reading about. I instantly realized I was seeing a daydream come to life. That, combined with the sheer wealth of sea life to observe, then surfacing to see an enormous bald eagle sitting on a rock just feet away from me, definitely ranks high on the memorable experience list.

Whisky of choice?

BenRiach Authenticus 21YO – I first had this particular whisky when several of us SQLFoodies got together for an amazing meal at WD-50 after SQL Saturday #158 NYC. After that first sip, I knew I’d found my favorite. I tend to gravitate toward heavily peated whiskies, and this one has enough smokiness to keep my attention, but what I think makes it amazing is its balance. Not too smoky, not too sweet . . . but just right. Goldilocks would most definitely approve.

Must-see WIT TV

This month’s featured video is from NASA’s Aspire To Inspire program, aimed at encouraging and empowering young women and girls to enter STEM fields.

Interested in supporting women in technology?

  • Go to the WIT website and check out all the resources, blogs and coming events
  • Follow @PASS_WIT and #passwit on twitter
  • Email wit@sqlpass.org to be added to the WIT mailing list; you’ll also receive invitations to the monthly call
  • Participate in the monthly call
  • Attend WIT panels at SQLSaturday events
  • Attend the WIT luncheon at the PASS Summit

Also recommended:

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