What makes a SAS user? Introverts find their tribe: Richann Watson


Ever wondered what unique quality sets you apart as a SAS user? I have. As I wandered around SAS Global Forum in Denver and met various SAS users, I was struck by the many endearing qualities of SAS users. Friendly and helpful immediately came to mind, and then:

  • Curious
  • What makes a SAS userCreative
  • Empathic
  • Intelligent
  • Team player
  • Problem solver
  • Challenge lover
  • Knowledge sharer

These are just some of the qualities that stood out I met user after user.

During SAS Global Forum 2018, I sat down with four SAS users to get their take on what makes a SAS user. Read through to find valuable tips they shared and up your SAS game. I’m sure you will come away inspired, as you discover some universal commonalities in being a SAS user.

Here is my first SAS user and her take on what makes a SAS user.


Richann Watson, Datarichconsulting.com

I love numbers, always have. When I was in 2nd grade, they were ready to skip me a grade because I was way ahead. I was apt at numbers. I knew whatever I did when I got older it had to be with numbers.

But, I also have a very creative side. SAS allows me to analyze & find a creative way to a solution. There was a deliverable I had which had 500 tables. We were told that we could only use two programs. We had to clearly come up with a very creative way to produce the tables. We also had to find a way to do QC on the tables. We developed this little program that would parse through all the PROC COMPARE output datasets to see if observations were 0 and then we would produce a report of our findings. I took it a step further and developed a macro that parsed the ‘.lst’ files looking for keywords in the files and performed some checks to see if the datasets were an exact match. The paper and code that explains this out of the box way of validating can be found here.

Some things I learned this year while at SAS Global Forum:

  1. My SkyMiles number is on my credit card. Okay, I know that is silly for some people, but I was ecstatic to see it there because I couldn’t remember what it was and needed to log into my account.
  2. Art Carpenter’s PROC FCMP using FCMP as art. You have to be able to think like that. We are constantly using ISO 8601 & creating dates with these formats. Why not create a function instead of a macro? If it’s a function it’s compiled & you can call it into the data step.  Art’s paper is a must-read for anyone that wants to learn more about proc FCMP.
  3. Chevell Parker’s talk on ODS Excel destination explains tagattr.  He talked about creating separate worksheets, providing formatting information to whatever variable you are dealing with. In Excel its an awful thing with leading zeros. I was using tagattr to create patient profiles, for each patient and needed a single workbook with each patient on a separate worksheet. I didn’t know how to create a single workbook and now I can do this with cascading style sheets (CSS).  I am definitely keeping Chevell’s paper handy.

One of the things I love about conferences is that introverts & extroverts get to operate on the same level- because you are on the same wavelength at the same level of thinking. You don’t have to revert to your coping skills. Introverts were behaving like extroverts because they were among others who understand each other. This is our tribe so there is confidence when there are other people who speak your language. You naturally break out, explore and learn.

In my grad program, my supervisor liked S+ and I used SAS. I did something that only SAS could do and I asked him can you do that in S+. He actually ended up writing a book in SAS.

Whether you are a new and prospective SAS user hoping to land work with SAS, or a seasoned SAS user, I hope Richann’s take as a SAS user resonated with you. I hope you will find something to takeaway. Is there anything else you would like to add? Chime in with your comments as we are always open to new ideas and feedback.

About Richann Watson

Richann Watson is an independent statistical programmer and CDISC consultant. She has been using SAS since 1996. She is also a member of the CDISC ADaM team and various sub-teams. In addition, she is the chairperson for the local SAS user group in her area and is actively involved with SAS Global Forum, PharmaSUG, MWSUG and other SAS User Groups.

Read all the posts in this series:
Part 1: Richann Watson
Part 2: Deanna Schreiber-Gregory
Part 3: Louise Hadden
Part 4: Josh Horstman


About Author

Charu Shankar

Technical Training Specialist

Charu Shankar has been a Technical Training Specialist with SAS since 2007. She started as a programmer, and has taught computer languages, business and English Language skills. At SAS, Charu teaches the SAS language, SQL, SAS Enterprise guide and Business Intelligence. She interviews clients to recommend the right SAS training to help them meet their needs. She is helping build a center for special needs kids in this project. http://www.handicareintl.org/pankaja/pankaja.swf

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