Ziaul Mannan, a database architect at Yale New Haven Health, believes that database administrators are an untapped source of IT and business leaders. And at the Collaborate 16 conference in Las Vegas, Mannan plans to present "The DBA and the Long Game -- Seeing (and Moving) into the Future," a session on how database administrator skills translate to leadership skills.
The idea for the session comes from a central unfairness Mannan noticed in his own role as a database administrator. Mannan started working as a database administrator after college and has worked as a database administrator the U.S. and New Zealand. He has held his current job at Yale New Haven Health for 14 years. In this time, he has watched people who entered the company on the help desk or in other IT departments move up and into executive positions. Meanwhile, he reached the highest level a database administrator can attain, and there is no promotion path for him into the executive level.
Mannan describes this as not a problem for one company, but as something cutting across multiple companies fueled by the way database administrator teams are positioned. Mannan explained that, rather than having their own group, database administrators are shuffled between groups as needed to get deliverables done. Consequently, database administrator teams don't have their own leadership or anyone watching them long enough to see their capabilities. Because of this, according to Mannan, database administrators don't have as many opportunities to advance on a leadership track. "We think the DBA is underappreciated," he said.
"I have seen from the trenches that a group of potential leaders have been overlooked," he said. The goal of the session is to show "how DBAs can be looked upon as true leaders," Mannan said, adding that database administrator skills can translate to leadership skills. For instance, database administrators are depended upon to make and implement critical decisions under pressure. Mannan described a recent circumstance at his job where he was working with group of non-database administrator, IT professionals when a server crashed. The project they were working on was time sensitive and due to go live the next morning. Mannan solved the problem, decided what to do and then implemented his decision. The server recovered and the project was ready by the go-live date.
The importance of this story, according to Mannan, isn't that when, in a moment of crisis, a database administrator has to make a decision quickly and on his own, but that the database administrator is trusted to make difficult decisions. "The DBA is always at the core of any system a company relies on," Mannan said. He added that another DBA skill is the ability to lead a group to a common consensus. Also, because DBAs tend to move between groups, they get less hands-on management and have to be more self-driven.
At Collaborate 16, a conference jointly organized by the three top Oracle user groups, Mannan plans to show his fellow database administrators that they have the capacity for leadership and give them the tools to prove this to their companies.
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