PASS VP of Marketing Denise McInerney – a SQL Server MVP and Data Engineer at Intuit – began her career as a SQL Server DBA in 1998 and attended her first PASS Summit in 2002. The SQL Server Team caught up with her ahead of this year’s event, returning to Seattle, WA, Nov. 4-7, to see what she’s looking forward to at the world’s largest conference for SQL Server and BI professionals.

For those who’ve never attended or who’ve been away for a while, what is PASS Summit?
PASS Summit is the world’s largest gathering of Microsoft SQL Server and BI professionals. Organized by and for the community, PASS Summit delivers the most technical sessions, the largest number of attendees, the best networking, and the highest-rated sessions and speakers of any SQL Server event.

We like to think of PASS Summit as the annual reunion for the #sqlfamily. With over 200 technical sessions and 70+ hours of networking opportunities with MVPs, experts and peers, it’s 3 focused days of SQL Server. You can take hands-on workshops, attend Chalk Talks with the experts, and get the answers you need right away at the SQL Server Clinic, staffed by the Microsoft CSS and SQLCAT experts who build and support the features you use every day. Plus, you can join us early for 2 days of pre-conference sessions with top industry experts and explore the whole range of SQL Server solutions and services under one roof in the PASS Summit Exhibit Hall.

Nowhere else will you find over 5,000 passionate SQL Server and BI professionals from 50+ countries and 2,000 different companies connecting, sharing, and learning how to take their SQL Server skills to the next level.

What’s on tap this year as far as sessions?
We’ve announced a record 160+ incredible community sessions across 5 topic tracks: Application and Database Development, BI Information Delivery, BI Platform Architecture, Development and Administration; Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment, and Professional Development. And watch for over 60 sessions from Microsoft’s top experts to be added to the lineup in early September.

You can search by speaker, track, session skill level, or session type – from 10-minute Lightning Talks, to 75-minute General Sessions, to 3-hour Half-Day Sessions and our full-day pre-conference workshops.

And with this year’s new Learning Paths, we’ve made it even easier to find the sessions you’re most interested in. Just use our 9 Learning Path filters to slice and dice the lineup by everything from Beginner sessions to Big Data, Cloud, Hardware Virtualization, and Power BI sessions to SQL Server 2014, High Availability/Disaster Recovery, Performance, and Security sessions.

Networking is at the heart of PASS Summit – what opportunities do you have for attendees to connect with each other?
PASS Summit is all about meeting and talking with people, sharing issues and solutions, and gaining knowledge that will make you a better SQL Server professional. Breakfasts, lunches, and evening receptions are all included and are designed to offer dedicated networking opportunities. And don't underestimate the value of hallway chats and the ability to talk to speakers after their sessions, during lunches and breaks, and at the networking events.

We have special networking activities for first-time attendees, for people interested in the same technical topics at our Birds of a Feather luncheon, and at our popular annual Women in Technology luncheon, which connects 600+ attendees interested in advancing role of women in STEM fields. Plus, our Community Zone is THE place to hang out with fellow attendees and community leaders and learn how to stay involved year-round.

You mentioned the networking events for first-time attendees. With everything going on at Summit, how can new attendees get the most out of their experience?
Our First-Timers Program takes the hard work out of conference prep and is designed specifically to help new attendees make the most of their time at Summit. We connect first-timers with conference alumni, take them inside the week with community webinars, help them sharpen their networking skills through fun onsite workshops, and share inside advice during our First Timers orientation meeting.

In addition, in our “Get to Know Your Community Sessions,” longtime PASS members share how to get involved with PASS and the worldwide #sqlfamily, including encouraging those new to PASS to connect with their local SQL Server communities through PASS Chapters and continue their learning through Virtual Chapters, SQLSaturdays, and other free channels.

How can you learn more about sessions and the overall PASS Summit experience?
A great way to get a taste of Summit is by watching PASS Summit 2013 sessions, interviews, and more on PASStv. You can also check out the best of last year’s Community blogs.

Plus, stay tuned for 24 Hours of PASS: Summit Preview Edition on September 9 to get a free sneak peek at some of the top sessions and speakers coming to PASS Summit this year. Make sure you follow us on Twitter at @PASS24HOP / #pass24hop for the latest updates on these 24 back-to-back webinars.

Where can you register for PASS Summit?
To register, just go to Register Now – and remember to take advantage of the $150 discount code from your local or Virtual PASS Chapter. We also have a great group discount for companies sending 5 or more employees. And don’t forget to purchase the session recordings for year-round learning on all aspects of SQL Server.

Once you get a taste for the learning and networking waiting for you at PASS Summit, we invite you to join the conversation by following us on Twitter (watch the #sqlpass #summit 14 hashtags) and joining our Facebook and LinkedIn groups. We’re looking forward to an amazing, record-breaking event, and can’t wait to see everyone there!

Please stay tuned for regular updates and highlights on Microsoft and PASS activities planned for this year’s conference.