The Masters of the MCM Program: David Ikeda and Joe Sack

The Microsoft Certified Masters program doesn’t run itself.  David Ikeda and Joe Sack manage the monster, and I’d like to take a minute to thank them for everything they do.

Someone’s gotta review the applicants. Not everybody gets accepted into the program.  Some candidates don’t have the necessary experience, and some are just looking for a shortcut to a big paycheck.  All it takes is one underqualified candidate, and the class gets seriously sidetracked by questions.  Keeping the bar high helps improve the Master-level training.

Someone’s gotta sit in on the class. In all three weeks of our rotation, David sat in the back of the room and tried to get real work done while simultaneously monitoring us.  He contributed to the discussion, guided the conversation back on track, and constantly asked us for feedback.

Someone’s gotta act on the suggestions. The MCM program is different than traditional Microsoft Learning courses.  It’s small, and it’s tailored to meet tough demands from tough customers.  The candidates in my rotation were chock full of ideas of things we’d love to see added or removed from the course, or things we would have done differently.  David had to listen to a bunch of loudmouthed DBAs – if you think one DBA is tough, try putting a dozen of the best ones in a room together and tell them the “right way” to do something.  They start rioting.

Someone’s gotta write the test questions and build the labs. Like I discussed in my article on the SQL MCM exams, it’s really hard to test DBAs when the best answer for almost everything is, “It depends.”  After every exam and after the final lab, we had a lot of fierce hallway debates about a handful of questions, but nobody walked out saying, “That test is total BS.”  Over and over, I heard candidates saying, “That test really gauges how well you know ___.” Building questions like that is hard.

Someone’s gotta work with the instructors. It’s hard to find good instructors who can drop everything and race to Bellevue for a week.  David and Joe have to manage their schedules, the rotation’s schedule, and make sure that the material and the people match up to Masters-level expectations.  You can’t explore everything inside SQL Server at the Master level in 3 weeks – there just isn’t time.

Throughout my rotation, I was completely impressed with the professionalism of David & Joe.  They’re doing a great service to both Microsoft and the attendees, and it’s not even their full-time job!  I salute them for their hard work and achievements, and I’m excited to see what the future brings for the program.  It’s in good hands.

Want to know more about the MCM program?  Check out my SQL Server Microsoft Certified Master page.

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