Today I’d like to introduce Gina Meronek, a BI Specialist with Trek Bicycle Corporation, amateur horsewoman and avid baker! Gina is also on the board of the local PASS chapter (MADPASS in Madison, WI). It was great sharing stories with her and hearing how she became a woman of BI. Read on to learn more!
Give a brief rundown of your career so far - where you've worked and/or what kind of job roles you've served in.
I have been working with Microsoft technology for about a dozen years. I started as a VB6 developer, and then became a .NET developer. I didn’t really move into the SQL BI stack until about five years ago, when I moved to a different team at the company I was working for and they needed an SSRS Administrator and someone to work with SSIS. I had always enjoyed working with SQL queries and the puzzles they could solve, but hadn’t done much report creation. I wasn’t much of a UI designer, and was perfectly fine with a spare design – the beautiful graphics or the correct font choice was never my forte. My reports tended to be more operational.
Then about two years ago, the opportunity opened at Trek I got to reboot and join a team that was doing more than just transactional reporting. All my experience up to this point had been very much operational reporting. At Trek, I had the opportunity to work with Analysis Services Cubes and approach data from more of an analyst’s eye. That is when I got to go full-on BI!
What drew you to working with BI?
I took a SQL Server class in college, it was by far my favorite class I took. It was one of the notebooks I kept during my early career.
How did you get to have the opportunity to work with Microsoft on TAP (Technology Adoption Program)?
That I am just lucky because of who I work for. Trek is very forward thinking on technology. The Director of Technology is keeping us on the cutting edge of what’s available from Microsoft, and we have many executives who are focusing on using data. Because of that determination to stay on the cutting edge, we were able to get into the program.
What's your current favorite data product to work on?
Power Query by far! I love its potential! The opportunity to learn a new language for a purposeful reason does not come my way often. Not only can you do cool things with the GUI, but then you can put your developer hat back on and work directly with the language to do even more.
Can't wait to be able to productionalize it into the future when it is schedulable and trigger-able. But what I would really love is for it to persist transformed data outside of the Excel data model.
What's your current least-favorite data product to work on?
I think - SSIS just because I find it frustrating out of the box. Might like it better when I learn BIML.
What problem or error do you love to solve?
I’ve been a SSRS admin for a long time and love going thru the execution logs and analyzing the backend data. It makes me very happy, and I don't think many people really use it. It can tell you so much about how people are using the reports and when.
What problem or error do you hate having to deal with?
What makes me sad is when users will not embrace visualizations and proper aggregations. They don't always need all of the detail all of the time, but some resist any attempts to summarize. I’m still figuring out the best ways to get the users to trust that the aggregations properly reflect the detail.
What music do you listen to when you want to concentrate?
It depends. I really use music prescriptively. If I am in a foul mood and I need someone else to be screaming instead of me then I listen to Australian band Prodigy. I use Puccini or other Romantic Opera to heal or fix a headache. To relax, some Cool Jazz like Miles Davis. Otherwise, both my husband and I are into Broadway musicals, so whatever musical I am listening to at the time.
What office sounds are most distracting for you?
When I’m in the office my desk is in the middle of a call center, and it is hard to tune out the din of conversion. They’re a very lively bunch!
What is your favorite quick & dirty SQL hack (to just get the job done)?
Select top 1000 rows from… (SQL)
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Baking, riding dressage or huntseat – though I’m not sure I’d love either as a job long term. You know that old saying about the dangers of turning your avocation into your vocation.
What profession would you not like to do?
I would be terrible at Sales - I would be awful!
If you won the lottery today, what would you like your colleagues to remember most about you?
That she was helpful.
If you won the lottery today, what would you do?
I would become a Professional Volunteer. I would love to have lots of time to devote to the SQL Server Community and to Horse-Related Opportunities.
If you could give your newly-graduated-self one piece of advice about your career, what would it be?
You will not always do what you are doing. Make sure you are not always doing what you are doing.
That concludes my interview with the amazing Gina Meronek! I hope you enjoyed meeting her as much as I did!