SAS Global Forum creates a big buzz in the SAS user community, so in order to find out what the fuss is about, I decided to chat with a couple of our instructors who would be going to Las Vegas. In addition to teaching pre-conference training, these two instructors will present the two seminars, Fear SAS® Graphs No More! and Understanding Why Your Macros Don’t Work, on Monday, April 4th from 1:00-4:00 before the opening session.
Take a moment to read this Q&A feature with Marty Hultgren and Michelle Buchecker about the seminars they are presenting and what they look forward to on this trip to Vegas.
1. What do you each do for SAS?
Marty: I teach a number of SAS courses, including Programming 1, 2 and 3, Macro, SQL, SAS® Enterprise Guide® and Business Intelligence platform classes. I also write courses, review books by users and answer lots of interesting questions from students I’ve had in classes.
Michelle: Similar to Marty, I teach several classes, write courses and I am also the Curriculum Manager for many SAS Solutions. In addition to that, I manage the Midwest region which includes a staff of eight employees and five SAS training centers.
2. You’re each planning to present on papers written by Michelle. Tell us a little bit about what each of your sessions will touch on and what interests you about the topics.
Marty: Michelle had a business problem that she had been solving using Microsoft Excel, but which she converted to SAS Enterprise Guide. Using her paper (Fear SAS Graphs No More!) as a guide, I’ll show the process she used to get to the result – a process using both point-and-click tools in Enterprise Guide, and some customized code to massage the data and create some sleek and informative graphs. There are a number of interesting things about the talk, and about Michelle’s solution, including the way we move from a lesser to a more robust solution and the way a few small changes to the graph and title code, the addition of a bit of macro code and some simple prompts combine to make for a very useful solution.
Michelle: To add on to what Marty said, one of the main reasons I switched from Excel to Enterprise Guide is that I was tired of getting out the calculator to add numbers from an online Unix system to plug into my Excel spreadsheet … The paper I will be presenting (Understanding Why Your Macros Don’t Work) is good old Macro stuff. The Macro course is where we see the most number of repeat students, namely because of the nuances and intricacies of the Macro facility. There is a lot of power to the macro world, but with that power you need a lot of knowledge to make sure what you are doing is correct. My seminar will be a way to help understand why things work the way they do in the macro world.
3. Have either of you ever presented at SAS Global Forum (or SUGI) before?
Marty: This is my first time. I have presented a few times at smaller user group meetings, but never “the big one”.
Michelle: I have presented several times, as well as local and regional user groups. This macro seminar is always my most requested.
4. Will either of you be teaching a training course prior to SAS Global Forum?
Marty: I’ll be teaching the two day SQL course April 1-2, covering PROC SQL, which happens to be one of my favorite classes to teach so I’m looking forward to it!
Michelle: And, I’ll be teaching the two day Macro course the same days.
5. When you’re not teaching or writing papers, what do you do to keep your minds sharp?
Marty: If we’re talking SAS, I’m currently reading through the platform administration classes and documentation, beefing up my knowledge of behind-the-scenes stuff for other classes I teach. I also am finishing up writing a class on the SAS Anti-Money Laundering solution.
Outside of SAS I read a fair amount, both fiction and non-fiction. I also play acoustic guitar – mostly older blues stuff. I stay way too busy fixing up my 100+ year old house, spend a lot of time with my kids, cross country skiing and sledding in the winter, and then warming up afterwards; biking, canoeing and cooling off in the lakes up north in the summer.
Michelle: SAS instructors are always learning new things. I’ve spent a lot of time recently learning about our different Solutions such as Social Media Analytics and Fraud Framework.
Personally, I love to travel and have a vacation planned almost every other month! My favorite US destination is Walt Disney World and I’m always happy to help people plan a Disney trip. My husband and I are doing our first Alaska cruise in May…so if anyone has any tips, come find me at Global Forum and share!
6. Are you looking forward to perusing the venues in Las Vegas while you’re there?
Marty: I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but rather than gambling and seeing shows, I think I’ll be content to wander around and take in the sights.
Michelle: I’m sure I’ll be at the craps table for a little while, and as a SAS employee I think it’s a requirement to go to M&M World, so I’ll make sure I take Marty to that!
7. Thank you both so much for taking time to answer these questions and letting us get to know you and what you’ll be doing at SAS Global Forum 2011.
Marty: I have truly enjoyed the people I work with, both SAS employees and SAS users and I look forward to seeing so many SAS folks in one place.
Michelle: Ditto! Hope to see you in Las Vegas!