If you follow my blog regularly, you might have noticed that I have been very quiet here lately. The reason is that I have been extremely busy working on The Next Chapter, both literally and figuratively.

The Book

As to the literal part, the truth is I have been working on many chapters. I am nearing completion on my next book, Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services, to be published this fall. I’m very excited about this book because it’s not another Step by Step book. Although I have heard from many readers how much they liked my last one, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Step by Step, the Step by Step series imposes several constraints on breadth and depth.

I was delighted when my editor suggested we take a new approach to this topic. The new book provides not only the information that a person new to SSRS would find helpful, but also the depth that an experienced person would find useful as well. My coauthor (and daughter) Erika Bakse (twitter) and I explore the nooks and crannies in SSRS that don’t get much, if any, coverage in Books Online, let alone in other SSRS books. I’ll admit that even I learned a thing or two during the writing of this book, even though I’ve been working with this product long before it’s debut in 2004. Stay tuned for more information as the publication date approaches.

The Company

My company is also undergoing a change in personnel. Erika has been working with me since her college graduation. She started with no business experience, no business intelligence experience, and no experience with databases, SQL, or MDX. She was (and is) a very intelligent person. Family bias aside, she got her undergraduate degree in theoretical math at MIT. I figured she could learn. My, how far she has come.

Her first project at Data Inspirations was the most challenging one that I have ever worked on, hardly the sort of project that I would want a newbie to learn from. At the time that we started that project, I didn’t foresee the challenges we would later face. But Erika rose to the occasion and learned a lot as we went along. Ultimately that project required pushing the envelope on the capabilities of the Microsoft BI stack. We even had a PerformancePoint planning project nearly complete that we abandoned when we learned the product had no future. (The client had a lot of data integrity issues to resolve, too, else we might have kept it alive because the tool fit the need so perfectly.)

After just over 4 years, Erika has matured into a seasoned BI practitioner. More important to me than mastering the technical skills is the ability to approach a problem creatively, come up with a solution, and apply the solution expediently. She has not only joined me onstage at multiple conferences in the US and now internationally, but has also stepped out of my shadow and presented solo sessions at user groups, 24 Hours of PASS, a few SQLSaturdays, and SQLBits X.

As an employer who cares about the professional development of her employees, I’m more than pleased with Erika’s accomplishments. As a woman in technology, I’m delighted to see a bright young capable woman join the ranks and contribute positively to the world. As a mom, words cannot adequately express how proud I am.

I don’t know if it’s still true anymore, but once it was common in the IT world to change jobs every 2 years. Often, the reason is to get different opportunities and expand skills or to get away from an unpleasant situation. After 4 years of working for her mom, Erika has had lots of opportunities for skills development without experiencing unpleasantness (I hope!), but sometimes even better experiences are available in other places. Therefore, Erika is leaving Data Inspirations to join California-based Symmetry next month. And she gets to move to San Francisco as part of the deal!

Erika did not pursue this opportunity without my knowledge or blessing. In fact, I have known Dan Bulos of Symmetry for years, almost as long as I have been in the BI field. Furthermore, Erika has been working with Dan as a subcontractor for the last year. It made a lot of sense to all of us to formalize that working relationship. I know that she will continue to grow under Dan’s tutelage and have the chance to work on some really great projects alongside fantastically smart and talented people. I could not be more pleased or proud.