Interview with Brad Mc Gehee

Mr. Mc Gehee had some time to answer some questions for the site here and I thought I would post them up for all to see.

  1. When you try to explain to someone that knows nothing about technology what a DBA is, how to you share with them what you do for a living?


It depends on the person. In the case where I casually meet a person, such as when I am sitting next to them in an airplane, most of the time I tell them I am a computer trainer or I that I just work in the computer field. If the person is more significant, such as a friend or family member, I tell them I am a SQL Server DBA who both teaches and writes about SQL Server. Then I briefly describe that SQL Server is a product from Microsoft used to store and manage data. At that point, most people who have asked me about my job change the subject.

  1. I think Chapter 24, “What Does It Mean to be a DBA”, is a great chapter in the book, and a great way to start the Database Administration section.  What was the drive behind picking that chapter?


The chapter I wrote on “What Does It Mean to be a DBA” is adapted from the book I wrote called “How to Become an Exceptional DBA.” I wrote that book, and this chapter, with the idea that it would be read by people who are interested in becoming a production DBA, and wanted to learn more about what it really means to be a production DBA on a day-to-day basis. Many people in the IT field, even developers who work with DBAs on a regular basis, often don’t fully understand what a production DBA does.

  1. What are your favorite events to speak at? 


I speak at both small and large events, and all of them offer different speaking experiences. For the most part, I enjoy speaking at users groups the most because the attendees have taken time out of their busy day to hear me speak, so they tend to be a well-targeted, eager-to-learn audience. In addition, because most user group meetings have smaller audiences, I get more opportunity to interact with the audience, which makes speaking more rewarding.

  1. If you were to list the top things that a DBA should master, either with the technology or with their Professional Development, what would they be?


The first step is to master, and to keep up with, the ever-changing technology. If you want to be a successful DBA, you must also be an avid learner. This not only includes mastering SQL Server, but the OS and the hardware it runs on. After that, it’s all about the soft skills. Many DBAs think that it is the technical skills that make them successful. While that is an important aspect, it just as important that a DBA’s interpersonal, leadership, team-building, project management, speaking, and writing skills are well polished. Like technical skills, soft skills can also be learned.

  1. What is next for Brad?  Where can we see you speak or read more of your work?


I am currently working on two new books. One will be on how to perform a SQL Server health check, and the other one is a practical guide on indexing. Red Gate Software recently purchased for me a fairly high-end SQL Server test system, and I plan to use for some benchmarking tests, along with proving, or disproving, some conventional production DBA best practices. The results will be published as white papers, articles, or as blog posts on my website.  In August, I will be speaking in Nashville at devLINK, in St. Louis at the St. Louis SQL Server Users group, and at the Baton Rouge SQL Saturday. In October I will be speaking at SQL Bits in York, England. In November, I will be speaking at SQL Server Connections in Las Vegas and the PASS Community Summit in Seattle.


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