Interview – Chris Yates

I decided to start a series of blogs where I interview key people in the SQL Server community. Instead of me asking technical questions, I plan on asking about their outlook on the future, books they read (non-fiction and/or technical), and their overall thoughts on where technology (mainly SQL Server) is headed. You can find more interviews here.

Next up: Chris Yates (b | t):

Chris Yates
Chris Yates

Mohammad: Do you think people who dismiss the cloud as a “fad” or just don’t take it serious enough to learn about it (i.e. Azure, AWS, etc), will be in a tough spot to find a job 5 years from now?

Chris: In a tough spot might be a stretch, but I do think it is something that all data professionals need to invest time in. While many companies are made great strides to get to the cloud there are still many financial institutions and other areas of business that have not got to that point yet. I am, and always will be, a huge proponent of never quit learning and the cloud is definitely the future.

Mohammad: Do you ever see the traditional SQL Server DBA role being replaced/eliminated?

Chris: I think it will continue to morph over time. Look, the things that DBAs were doing even 5 years ago has changed immensely. I think it again goes back to honing your skill set and continued learning, the pace at which new methodologies and platforms come into circulation can be at times at breakneck speeds. DBAs should be excited at the many possibilities and opportunities that are and will become available.

Mohammad: What are you most proud of doing/accomplishing for the SQL Server community so far in your career?

Chris: To be honest, just helping people. I’ve been blessed with mentors along my journey that have helped me immensely; we do what we do in the community to help others learn. There are plenty more Chris Yates’ out there who, like me, never new a SQL community existed. If we can help and reach just one person then it is worth it. Investing time in others has made a huge impact on me; I hope I can do the same for others. We > me.

Mohammad: What non-technical/non-fiction book/s would you recommend? If you only read technical books…what do you recommend?

Chris: Great question and one that I get asked all the time. I’m keen on leadership styles and methods from various resources. With the wide breadth of topics on leadership in today’s world, there is really not just one go to that I have. I try to look at bits and pieces of each and see how I may be able to apply it in my own life. If you look even in our own community we have some outstanding leaders.

Mohammad: For someone who’s career focus has been on one aspect of SQL Server (i.e. Database Engine), do you think it would be wise for them to become a “jack of all trades” by starting to learn, SSRS/IS/Azure, etc. or remain focused on their area of expertise? In another words, which would you say is more valuable? mile wide / inch deep or inch wide / mile deep?

Chris: This is a great question and one that possibly could depend on where you are at in your career. In reading my answers above, in my own life, I thirst for knowledge and what motivates me is to know a wide breadth of information. What works for me might not work for someone else. I remember when I was very green in our field that it was stated that, “You need to know the internals; it is great to have the fancy tools but you must have an understanding of how it all works without the tools”. This has stuck with me and I make it a point to learn all I can and encourage others as well to do the same if that particular field interests them. At times, myself included, we set up our own roadblocks and think we can’t do something. I’m living proof that you can learn do it and learn something new it if you set your mind to it and want it bad enough.

Mohammad: Lastly, I really believe in not only learning from your mistakes but, if possible…learning from the mistakes of others. What is your biggest mistake? If you could go back in time, is there something that you regret not doing? And if so, what?

Chris: Looking back I’ve made many mistakes along the way. Learning from them is key; I mean listen, in my 18-year career, one can only imagine how many mistakes can be made over a period of time like that. If I could go back in time and redo them I wouldn’t. That might sound crazy to some, but when you weather the storm and you get to the other side it has made me a stronger data professional. A valued friend of mine in our field told me many years ago that if you aren’t making mistakes then you aren’t trying hard enough. I expect to fail, but I also expect to get up each time I fail and learn from it and move on. Something that I regret………honestly is not the past mistakes I’ve made technically. I’ve worn egg on my face many times. The regrets I have are more related to seeing a co-worker struggling and knowing I could have helped them more or seeing someone struggling in the community and knowing I could have maybe done something to help them through the day. I encourage all who take the time to read this to wake up every day and make an impact on something or someone. You are the CEO of your career; it’s up to you what you make of it.

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