It’s been a little over two years since I first became President of the Chicago Oracle Users Group and I’ve been looking back at this whole journey. It all started in January of 2014 when COUG members received an email from the previous President with a special message. He was apologetic in his email as he had been busy with various startup companies and had let the focus of the group lapse. This was completely understandable as he was running the COUG solo and anyone that’s ever been involved with a user group knows that this isn’t a paid position but completely voluntary so certain life events can easily take precedence.
He was looking for someone to step up to be the next leader. In order to prove that this person was deeply interested he requested that individual to schedule a meeting with 2 presenters, locate a venue and find a sponsor. It took me a while but I finally replied to his email with his request (I made myself one of the presenters). Surprisingly, my reply was the only one he received. I was nervous as hell as this was the first time I would be speaking about a technical subject in front of a crowd. Everything went fine and I think I went way over on time (60 minutes total) describing some of the great new features available in Oracle DB 12cR1.
Now mind you the turnout of this first meeting wasn’t stellar (I think we had 12 people show up?) but it didn’t matter. You see the COUG had not had a meeting in almost 4 years prior to that. At that meeting I made the first of many new contacts from this great Oracle user community. This included members that are now regular attendees as well as Oracle author, Fuad Arshad and Oracle Ace, Jeremy Schneider. It was the encouragement from the folks at this meeting that set something off in side of me, I have to continue doing this to the best that I can!
It was also at this meeting that Fuad came up to me, mentioned that he worked for Oracle and to let me know if there is anything he could do to help. I remember stopping to think for a brief second and like Ralphie in the movie A Christmas Story, blurting out “I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!” Except the words that came out of my mouth were “Can you get us Tom Kyte?!” It wasn’t but a few weeks later that I was exchanging emails with Tom trying to determine dates on when he could come for a meeting (we finally settled on a date that was 6 months away but I was ecstatic to say the least).
Two years later, a lot has been accomplished with our user group. We’ve held 11 meetings with over 50% of these presentations coming from Oracle Ace’s. Last summer we introduced our first hands-on workshop, RAC Attack! 12c. We’ve also added about 160 new members since then (bringing our total member count to over 900). I’m really appreciative of all the support and help from everyone not to mention the advice and mentoring I’ve received from some really great folks (Tony Jedlinski, Jim Czyprunski, Tim Gorman just to name a few).
I have nothing but good things to say about getting involved with the Chicago Oracle Users Group. It has been a real eye opener at the things I’ve learned (both technical and non-technical), the connections I’ve made and the ability to give back to others. Everyday I’m feeling more confident about what I’m able to do and how I’m able to help others. My only regret has been that I didn’t get involved earlier (like 8+ years ago when I was first thinking about it).
So with that I say don’t be afraid…be daring, be bold and help make a difference with your local Oracle user community. If you are in the Chicago area you can start by joining the COUG team. From now until April 30th, 2016 the Chicago Oracle Users Group is accepting nominations for 2 new board positions. Just like me could this be something that you’ve wanted to do but perhaps weren’t certain on how to get started.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and apply. If I can do it so can you!