There are 3 people who have really contributed positively to my career in data. Two are in a dba role, the other wasn't anywhere close. They all helped in a different way, which is why I am listing them all.
The first person I want to talk about is a past boss. When I was starting out in my career, I was an administrative assistant in the pharmacy department of an HMO. The head of the department, Mary, was a pharmacist and very friendly, yet tough. She worked with a committee of doctors to set policy within the HMO we worked for, and it affected all of the members we served throughout Florida.
I did the normal administrative assistant type of duties, but she allowed me to stretch beyond those borders and do other stuff that was helpful as well. One of those pet-projects that I worked on imported prescription utilization data into an Access database, manipulated it, then exported the results in both Excel reports and Word documents. I was so proud of what was done, and should have gotten the hint that was the direction I wanted to go in (but of course I didn't at the time). I still think about her. She helped me in more ways than I realized and was a very good mentor (and boss) to have!
The next person who contributed to my path was a dba I used to work with, Stuart. When I realized I should actually be in IT, I found a job as a report writer for a local company. I worked my way into being a developer, and then started working with databases more. I would ask Stuart all kinds of questions and he was always patient. I think he recognized that I wanted to learn, and that I wasn't questioning the decisions behind processes, but wanting to understand for knowledge. He helped me learn the basics of things so that I can explore more on my own. For example, he sat down with me and helped me understand how to prioritize the list of database objects in the FROM statement and why it mattered. That jump started many nights of studying to figure out even more. I still talk to him from time to time and hope to be a friend for many years to come. He also always had great stories to listen to!
I admittedly don't know how to thank either of them for their patience and understanding. The best thing I can think of is to help others in a similar manner. I feel all gooey inside when I think about them and hope that I can have that affect on someone else one day. :)
The third person who I wanted to talk about is Sean McCown. I met him at a SQL Saturday in Baton Rouge a few years ago where I attended a session he presented on Powershell. That particular SQL Saturday was my first one ever. I hadn't even known that type of event existed until that year. The event was fantastic and I was so excited during and after (I have to give a shout out to the BRSSUG - they are awesome people)! The way he presented the information and answered questions was something I hadn't really experienced before. It was very clear that he enjoys what he does, and his upbeat personality draws people in. I remember being in awe and wanting to do that too. He also recorded himself, as he does with most of his sessions. That was the first time I really had thought about and started researching what it takes to brand myself. Him and Jen also put on a weekly webshow at DBAs@Midnight, which is an incredible way to talk to them regularly. Since then I have been a speaker at a few SQL Saturday events and user group meetings - partly in thanks to him. I still think back to the initial excitement and feel so thrilled that the SQL community is filled with so many wonderful people!