National Techies Day - David Heath
David Heath
Senior Technical Consultant

National Techies Day is celebrated on October 3rd. This day was founded by and CNET back in 1998, to promote tech jobs and allow members of the tech community to celebrate working in the technology sector. By promoting the tech profession, National Techies Day celebrates the growing importance of technology in modern life.

This year for Techies Day, Ultima Senior Technical Consultant, David Heath shares why he chose a career in SQL Server and Database technologies.

Starting Out
Computers were just a hobby when I was at school, and I initially went to university hoping to become a scientist and started a degree studying Fire Science! As it may sound, this was an exciting subject, but I quickly realised I always preferred mucking around in the computer lab, rather than working on complex chemistry problems or watching things burn! I ended up switching courses to study Business Computing, a degree that covered multiple IT areas, but predominantly databases. Rather than a pure computing degree, the course linked technical subjects to real world business functions and taught professional business management and other valuable soft skills, which I still use in my career today. 

All Things Data
After university I worked in several technical support jobs, eventually finding myself managing multiple Microsoft SQL Server database systems as a database administrator and then a data architect. The data side of things interested me as data is central to every organisation and being able to manage these systems provided opportunities to work with infrastructure, networks, security, and software development and be involved in multiple different business areas within the company.

Working in Consulting
For the past three years I’ve worked at Ultima Business Solutions as a Senior Consultant providing professional services focused on Microsoft SQL Server and the Azure Data Platform. This work is interesting mainly as it is so varied. One week may involve performance tuning an Azure SQL Managed Instance and the next week architecting and implementing a highly available multi-site SQL estate. You can be working on cutting edge services in the cloud, but at the same time tyring to remember how SQL Server functioned 20 years ago to help a client migrate a legacy database to a new platform!

The role involves working directly with customers to understand requirements, solve technical challenges and implement data solutions across the different SQL Server functional areas both on-premises and in Azure. 

Starting a Career in Data
The world is built around data, so there are many careers that can allow you to work with managing or manipulating data in some way – database administration, architecture, data science, analytics, development and even artificial intelligence and machine learning, are all areas reliant on a data background. 

When starting any IT career, I’d recommend first getting a broad understanding of the different technical areas of IT. Initially working in IT support is a great way to understand the challenges real users face, to learn many different areas of IT from applications to infrastructure fundamentals, as well as key soft skills such as how to problem solve, interact with clients, and write documentation. This gives you a good foundation to then specialise in areas that interest you. 

One of the biggest benefits of working in a data orientated role is the availability of support and learning opportunities, especially within the Microsoft data platform area. For example, conferences such as SQLBits, Pass Data Community Summit and Microsoft’s Learning Paths, provide a huge range of technical and professional training for all levels, usually for free. As well as this, resources developed and provided by the data community, free tools, Slack channels, and community events, allow data professionals to get help and grow their careers. The community is encouraged to contribute and share their own knowledge to support new data professionals.

Ultimately, this means there are always opportunities to develop and grow, both technically and professionally, and the variety and diversity of the data platform area means you can be as broad or as focused as you like within your career.

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