Interview with Kathi Kellenberger

This week we had the opportunity to ask Kathi Kellenberger SQLServerCentral | SQLTeam a few questions.  Kathi is the author of Chapter 9, “Avoiding three common query mistakes” in the SQL Server MVP Deep Dives book. 

Great topic on how to avoid common query mistakes, why did you choose this topic?

Thanks!  Since my favorite topic is T-SQL, it was just a matter of deciding what aspect to cover. I have frequently helped people figure out how write these types of queries so I thought that there are probably lots of people out there struggling with the same issues.


I know you speak at a number of events each year at the same time working on a book or two.  What has been your favorite project?

My “Beginning T-SQL 2008” book has been my favorite project so far. It was really important to me to write my own book after being one of several authors on the first book I worked on. In the future, I will be glad to be a co-author again if the right project comes along.

When I consider smaller projects, I would have to say the article I wrote recently for Simple-Talk explaining the winning solution in a T-SQL code writing contest has been the most fun. Writing an article is not such a big commitment – it doesn’t consume your life like a book does – and generally more people will actually read an article. One of my articles on SQLServerCentral has over 100 thousand views; my book will never ever reach that many people.


You have a broad base of topics that you write or speak on from the SSIS books to the Professional Development sessions and the t-sql chapter in the Deep Dives book.  Where do you find yourself the most comfortable and why?

Definitely, T-SQL. At my job, I have to manage many aspects of SQL Server, yet, I am a programmer at heart. Given the chance, I would let someone else worry about service packs and high availability, and I would just concentrate on T-SQL development and scripting.

Obviously, I am a big believer in Professional Development. For example, I really believe that people can get over the fear of speaking if they really want to. Just ten years ago, I hated speaking in front of groups. Now I look for opportunities to present and teach. I’m still an introvert, but I’m an extroverted introvert!


What advice would you give to someone who was trying to become a SQL Server Professional?

This is what I tell my students: you won’t learn by just reading. You have to actually work with SQL Server. Learn as much as you can, but play with the features, experiment. I know there is always a debate about the value of certification, but consider working on the certifications. That is a great way to be exposed to all the things that SQL Server can do. You won’t become proficient at everything, but at least you will be aware of features that you might need in some future project or job.


What do you think the best advice you received?

The best advice I ever received was at least 15 years ago when I was in an entirely different career. I had written a program to keep track of donations, print labels, and create the booklet for a charity auction. Another volunteer on the project was a vice president at a technical training company. He told me that I had talent and could be a programmer. He also advised me to learn Visual Basic and SQL Server. I believe that I would have eventually ended up working with databases, but my friend’s advice probably helped me get there faster.


There has been a lot of talk about the DBA Role changing, any thoughts on the future of the DBA Role?

I think it really depends on the situation. I feel like I wear a lot of hats in my job, but it would be nice to specialize in one area. With every release, SQL Server becomes a bigger product. It is difficult, if not impossible, to be proficient in every feature. I would guess, especially with bigger companies, that the role will become more specialized.


Where do you go from here?  What is the next project event or book are you looking forward to?

This year I have been focusing on teaching.  I’m teaching Visual Basic at a university and teaching some SQL Server classes at a training center. I don’t have a book project right now, but I hope to work on another book at some point.  Actually, I have been working so hard, that the thing I am most looking forward to is a week in Florida later this year. I plan to spend my time either in the ocean or relaxing by the pool with a non-technical book.


Kathi Kellenberger – Kathi Kellenberger, SQL Server MVP, is a database administrator for Bryan Cave LLP in St. Louis, MO. She is author of “Beginning T-SQL 2008” (Apress 2009) and co-author of “Professional SQL Server 2005 Integration Services” (Wrox 2006). She is a contributing author of “SQL Server MVP Deep Dives” (Manning 2009).   Kathi is a frequent speaker and teaches the occasional SQL Server class. 


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