About me

I started my Database Lifecycle Management (DLM) journey at Redgate.

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SQL Saturday Exeter 2012 was my first community event. I was still pretty fresh behind the ears at this point but the community welcomed me with open arms. I met people that day who have become genuine friends. I have returned to Exeter every year since. Last time I took two guitars with me.

With a drama degree and a background in customer service, special needs teaching and skiing I joined the “SQL division” at Redgate as a sales person in 2010. I quickly learned that you only talk to sales people for two reasons:

  1. The sales person is an expert in their field that can offer genuine, informed advice.
  2. The sales person is a poor negotiator who is likely to give you a discount.

If neither of those statements are true it becomes very difficult for the sales person to hold the clients’ interest. In the words of Grant Fritchey “DBAs hate talking to sales people because they don’t know what they are talking about!” If I was going to earn my salary at Redgate I very quickly needed to skill up.

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My last event for Redgate was SQL Server Geeks Annual Summit 2016 in Bangalore where I manned the booth, delivered four sessions and spent some time working with our new regional partners, SQL Maestros.

I learned to code. I started a code club. I started my second degree in Computer Science during evenings and weekends. I read blogs. I read books. I joined the developers’ code katas. I joined in during “Down Tools” week. (Redgate’s equivalent to Google’s 20% time.) I attended conferences.

Most of all, I listened to my customers. I was in a fantastic position to learn about real development teams and their problems. Each customer would describe their database delivery problems and I was able to spot the common patterns. I could see the same problems cropping up in organisations of different shapes and sizes all around the world.

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One of the highlights of my Redgate career: As Redgate began to make decisive steps into the DLM space we offered a few customers free consultancy to help them get up and running. We wanted to learn about how our software stood up to real world challenges. This successful visit really gave me a bug for consulting.

I also learned how some companies were able to fix those problems and I was able to share those lessons with others. I did this during the course of my work but also, through Redgate, I discovered vibrant and welcoming SQL and Continuous Delivery communities who encouraged me to share the knowledge that I was gaining even further through speaking and blogging at community events.

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My first experience as a speaker at a tech conference: After running a ‘Database Continuous Delivery’ open space session at the inaugural Pipeline event in London Chris O’Dell asked me to join the panel. Nervously I took my seat between Steve Thair (co-founder of DevOps Guys) and Dave Farley (co-author of Continuous Delivery). I felt like a massive fraud. Who wants to listen to me?

In actual fact. I never enjoyed selling. When you graduate in 2008 with a drama degree you take any job you can get and sales seemed to pay an OK salary. Truth be told, I never got enormous satisfaction from selling licences. I was just fortunate that I fell into a role with an amazing employer and through them discovered a passion for solving technical problems and making peoples’ lives better. The problem just happened to be DLM and the people just happened to be database developers and DBAs.

Over the course of a six year career at Redgate I was able to take on various roles within the sales and development functions and I was able to interact with users in many capacities: selling, marketing, research, UX, pre-sales, consulting, training, blogging, speaking, developing software, mentoring. But in the end I decided to leave Redgate.

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Bloukrans Bridge, South Africa: This was the tallest bungee jump in the world (until China built a bigger one) but it was nothing. Try quitting the best job of your life without any idea where your next paycheck is coming from.

I wanted to be a full time consultant. I wanted to help people to solve problems more than I ever wanted to sell licences. That’s why in 2016 I started DLM Consultants.

To read the next chapter of my DLM journey – start here.

  2 comments for “About me

  1. Alan Davis
    June 16, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    I don’t think anybody who bungee jumps is sane enough to listen to.

    • Alex Yates
      June 17, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      To be fair, you are probably right. And that bungee jump was at Bloukrans Bridge, which until recently was the tallest in the world.

      On that holiday I also went cliff jumping, skydiving and shark diving so you should probably avoid reading anything I write.

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