Our family gathering was held in mid-March in San Diego, California. No, not the Schley family, but rather our data management family, and that includes you and me. Like other family reunions, there were exclamations of surprise as acquaintances were renewed, large dinners alive with vibrant conversation, sharing of experiences of what works and what doesn’t, and even music and dancing (yes, dancing!).
That’s what makes the annual DAMA International Symposium and Wilshire Meta-Data Conference so great. Like a family reunion, it brings everyone together to remind them of who they really are. Not time-crunched, multitasking, project-bound, desperate-for-the-weekend worker bees, but dedicated data management professionals focused on learning and doing things better. In my welcome address, I suggested that even with the usual slate of impressive presenters, panels and keynote speakers, attendees might find their best resource sitting next to them. No matter what question they were having or what issue they faced, there was likely someone in the audience who had answered that question or resolved that issue. The outside discussions at mealtimes or between sessions might be the most valuable part of the event. I got this bit of wisdom from my father, who, as I left for college, told me, “Don’t let the books interfere with the learning.”
I’m happy to report that this worked for me. At lunch one day, I had an enlightening discussion on teaching data management in the classroom with Mark Gillenson. During another lunch, I got an in-depth understanding of the process of creating the DAMA DMBOK (Data Management Body of Knowledge) from Mark Mosley. As we left a session on metadata wikis, I got some great tips from Bonnie O’Neil. Jim Goetsch and April Reeve helped clarify my understanding of EII and SOA in the hallway. I was inspired to hear the excitement in the voice of Olena Dikina as she talked about setting up a DAMA chapter in Ukraine, and to hear progress of establishing a Brazil chapter from Luiz Pizani. I could go on, but you get the idea. I left San Diego more knowledgeable and better prepared to apply my knowledge back in my time-crunched, multitasking, project-bound and not-quite-so-desperate-for-the-weekend work world.
DAMA International is an enabler of this type of learning. Our three conferences (the Symposium, plus the Enterprise Information Management conference in Toronto in June and our DAMA Europe Conference in November are the most visible, but the learning continues throughout the year in DAMA chapter meetings around the globe. Check out the “Chapter List” on our home page to find a chapter near you, or join the Global Chapter and meet virtually. The DAMA Dictionary, released at the San Diego conference, enables us to speak the same language and gives us a shared understanding of the building blocks of our profession (check out the DAMA website for details). DAMA has created the CDMP (Certified Data Management Professional) designation, which enables us to demonstrate comprehension of the data management subject matter. DAMA International’s new website functionality allows better sharing of events, job postings and communication among chapters and members.
Wednesday’s keynote speaker was Lynne Cox, the world’s greatest cold-water swimmer. She’s completed numerous long and dangerous swims, most notably a mile-plus swim to Antarctica in near-freezing water filled with ice. Amazingly, she credited most of her success on her support groups, the folks in the boats watching for sharks, ready to pull her out of the water on a moment’s notice and help her warm up. The clear lesson to the full lecture hall, and to readers of this article, is that we need to find our support people and rely on them to help us achieve remarkable success.
Trust DAMA International and the DAMA International Foundation to be on your support staff. Because we’re family.