Reflections as a consultant

Let’s just start with the last three years have been fantastic! This blog post is a slight deviation from the technical content on my blog. We’re going to focus on career and professional development for a minute.

In 2011 I was thrust into the world of consulting…accidentally. Accidentally you ask, how can that happen? Well, at the time I worked remotely for a large health care practice doing system design and software development on the Microsoft stack. Fun and innovative stuff, with great leadership in fun environment. Learned a lot! Well, they were acquired by a much larger organization and the new corporate policy didn’t allow for remote workers. So rather than terminate me they asked if I would like to be a consultant. Well, who wouldn’t right? I had dabbled in consulting for years in the off hours, and always wanted to make the jump. This was the push that I needed. That left me with one huge question…

How do you run a consulting firm?

Certainly at the time I knew some technical stuff, I had been in the industry for 10 years and I was working on a PhD in computer science (still am :). But what I didn’t know is how to run a consulting firm. Client satisfaction, finances, marketing, professional development and that’s just the short list. Missteps occur, but as long as you learn you’ve made some progress.

Some successes include:

  • Client satisfaction – Have a decent set of clients where I’m working on cool problems…still have 100% client retention :)
  • Marketing – The web site went live, added a blog this year and a video
  • Professional Development – Attended 2 SQLSkills training classes and the Fall SQLIntersection, not to mention numerous books read
  • **Business Network Development – **Meeting people in the SQL community

Where do we go from here?

Well, here are some goals for this year

  • Refine the marketing message – easily and concisely communicate what Centino Systems does  
  • Continue to develop blog content – with an emphasis on SQL Internals and database system architecture, speaking to client’s business and technical needs
  • Deliver a public presentation – build, refine and deliver a top notch presentation(s) at a SQL Server User Group or SQL Saturday
  • Process Optimization – develop repeatable processes. This is key for my success and my client deliverables. It will save me time and clients will get better and consistent services.

…and with that all laid out, why do I think I need to be mentored?

The answers are simple:

  • **Collaboration **– There’s a lot in the road ahead and having someone to collaborate with, exchange ideas both technical and non-technical is invaluable. 
  • Learning – Computer systems are incredibly complicated, if you stop learning you will be left behind. This would in an incredible chance to have someone guide me through the deep technical nuances of relational databases systems and system design with excellent insight.

Thank you for reading and good luck!

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