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Pivotal Moments


May 8, 2017 by Mike Hillwig

I mentioned that last summer, I spent a lot of time in Pittsburgh building out a new team. I’ve also mentioned that I hired Warren, someone from the SQL community, ┬áto join my team in Boston. Something unusual happened last week.

I have an agreement with our finance folks that I get to visit my Pittsburgh team on a quarterly basis. That works pretty well for me. However, after doing eight flights in a two week period on an exhausting vacation, I decided to defer my Q2 trip and send Warren in my place.

The level of collaboration on my team is pretty incredible. We do video chats pretty much daily, and IM is a way of life for us. But in the past year, Warren hadn’t had the opportunity to meet my entire Pittsburgh team in person. He’d only met the people who had been to Boston for some training. It was time to fix that. While the official reason for sending Warren to Pittsburgh was to teach my team PoSH, my personal goal was to help develop the camaraderie on my team.

My team. Warren, MD, Dummea, Perry, Parth, Helder

Mission accomplished!

On Wednesday night, they sent me some pictures and my heart began to swell.

This is my team. That’s Warren, MD, Dummea, Perry, Parth, and Helder.

I literally giggled when I saw these pictures. It put a big bow on a year’s worth of work for me.

This group of people never ceases to amaze me. They’re all absolutely incredible people with great skills, and they all bring something different to the table.

I keep saying how much I believe in diversity, and this shows what diversity can do for an organization. We have people from different cultures and races, but we also have people at very different places in their lives and in their career. I have both women and men on the team. And I have people of different ages. Diversity on the team brings diversity of thought. This is where innovation begins. That’s so important to me.

Warren’s family roots are Native American. MD is from Bangladesh. Dummea is from Nigeria. Perry is originally from Buffalo, so we’ll call him Canadian. Parth was born in India. Helder is first generation American with parents born in Portugal. That’s pretty diverse if you ask me.

That night, I had something that we call a pivotal moment. I realized that the blood, sweat, tears, and jet fuel spent on building this team had totally paid off. I have a group of DBAs who not only work well together–they actually like each other. It’s pretty clear that they’re having fun together.

Left to right: Parth, MD, Warren, Dummea, Perry, Helder

Building a team from scratch is a once-in-a-career opportunity. I’ve been given that opportunity twice in the past few years. The first time was good. But this time, it was amazing.

There are a few moments in my life that I will always look back on with great satisfaction. This will be one of them. I’ve assembled an incredibly diverse team. I’m proud of that. But what really makes this work is the natural chemistry this team has with each other. You can’t buy that. I’ve been given a gift.