Matthew Roche is the conference chair for the Business Intelligence Conference that SSWUG is hosting, and I cannot tell you how impressed we are with the caliber of speakers that he put together for the conference. I got to sit and talk with Matt Mason and Donald Farmer a couple of his speakers from Microsoft just last week and I cannot wait to see the presentations. Matthew is going to be joining the Microsoft team soon. I sent the same questions to Matthew that I did all the speakers and here are the Questions and Answers that he provided.
CS – Many technology people do many jobs, for example: I know SQL Server DBA’s that also work with SharePoint. What is the technology that you prefer and why?
MR – I’ve worked with just about every Microsoft developer technology (as well a bunch of 3rd party developer tools) for the past twelve years or so and have discovered that I’m happiest when I’m working closest to the data. I’ve been focusing as much as possible on SQL Server development since 2000, but with the release of SQL Server 2005 the business intelligence toolset was so compelling that I started specializing in the BI stack, particularly SQL Server Integration Services. I’ve never found a development tool that was more fulfilling to work with that SSIS – it brings data and development together in an exciting and compelling package (pun intended) for ETL development.
CS – If you were not doing anything with technology what would you be doing, what is your dream job?
MR – Well, since I’ve learned that there actually is no such thing as the Swedish Bikini Team, and you can’t make much money being a professional Manowar fan, I would love to be a pastry chef. I’ve always had a passion for baking – and I see many parallels between the creative aspects of pastry and software development – but when you’re a developer you get to sleep in much later.
CS – Describe your worst day on the Job.
MR – That’s a very difficult question to answer. I love the work I do because there are always challenging problems to solve – the more challenging the problem, the more I love it once the problem is solved. Because of this, the standard “well, there was this day when the poop hit the fan” response doesn’t really fit. Most of what I would describe as my “worst days” have as a common thread some poor upstream planning on my part, which on the bad day results in extra work for me and my team. It’s expected that we all make mistakes from time to time – and that’s the best way to learn – but it’s a miserable feeling when your own mistakes place a burden on your teammates .
CS – Where do you see yourself going from here, or what do you think you will be doing 5 years from now.
MR – This is an easy one for me, because I am joining Microsoft as a full-time employee on October 6th. I’m joining the Microsoft Learning team as a Quality Architect focusing on improving the quality of the Microsoft Official Curriculum courseware, and working with the Microsoft Certified Trainer community around the world. This should keep me busy for a few years at least, and once this challenge is overcome, I’m sure that there will be new and exciting challenges waiting for me. Microsoft is a pretty big company, after all.
CS – How did you get started along this career path?
MR – Almost by accident. Although I was a computer science major in college, I never really understood the context in which I could apply everything that I’d learned. Because of this, I “stagnated” for several years after leaving college, before getting a job as a technical trainer. Working with my students and their problems gave me a crash course in real-world problems, and ignited my nascent passion for IT and software development. Within two years I had co-founded a software consulting company – the rest, as they say, is history.
CS – What do you feel has been the biggest accomplishment in your career?
MR – Understanding that my career is not the most important thing in my life. When my son was born almost eight years ago I had been working over 80 hours a week on average for the previous three years. Obviously, this wasn’t going to work with a child, so I left my job as managing partner for the consulting company I’d co-founded, and took a developer job with another firm. Although the pay cut was severe, I was also working 40 hours per week, which gave me the time I needed to spend with my young family. In the years since then, especially since I started working for myself as an independent consultant, I have been working more than this, but I have gotten better at maintaining a decent life/worth balance than I’d thought possible. Although I’ve done a bunch of exciting things over the years (speaking at conferences, meeting Bill Gates, and starting my own company leap out as highlights) the “biggest accomplishment” in my mind is having been able to do these things while not forgetting what is really important.
CS – What are you most excited about with the next release or most recent release of the software that you are working with.
MR – What’s not to love? My “product of passion” as it were is SQL Server 2008, and the BI toolset in particular. There are so many improvements in SSIS, SSAS and SSRS that it’s difficult to pick just one. Interested readers (warning – shameless plug ahead!) should attend the “What’s New” sessions in the SSWUG Business Intelligence vConference (http://www.vconferenceonline.com/Business-Intelligence) later this month to see how true this is.
CS – In the past there has been a lot of discussion about Microsoft vs. UNIX based systems, now it seems that it is Microsoft is being attacked by Apple. Where do you sit on this issue?
MR – Firmly on the sideline. Microsoft is the “big dog” so they are the easy target that the “other guys” need to attack. I believe that whatever hardware or software does what you need it to do is right for you – be it Windows, Mac, UNIX, Linux, whatever. There is no “one OS fits all” choice in today’s world. But with this said, I personally believe that Microsoft’s product offerings are complete, competitive and compelling. In the world of business intelligence and software development, the Microsoft platform allows developers to do so much with so little, it’s difficult to understand why anyone would choose anything else.
CS – Do you have a hobby? If so what is it?
MR – Does fatherhood count? Although I love to bake, listen to music, read (take long walks on moonlit beaches – you get the idea) and so on, when I’m not working I’m usually spending as much time as possible with my family. What could be better?
CS – If you were to be born in any year, what year would it be and why?
MR – What a bizarre question. I suppose I could give an answer about being born at some time in the past to see some important historical event, or at some time in the future to see how mankind develops, but that would be lame and contrived. There is no place or time that I would rather be than right here, right now, with my life and my family. How can you improve on happiness?