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.
My next SAS user is the 'Safe Merger' and gives a fine talk on the value of safe merging. Besides his great talks, he has a great sense of humor and does an amazing job of bringing people together in user groups. Read on to learn more about my fourth user, Josh Horstman, and what makes him tick.
Josh Horstman, Nested Loop Consulting
My first job after college was as an IT systems analyst for a large pharmaceutical company. During the first week, a statistician approached me and told me he needed me to learn SAS. I had never even heard of SAS, but I picked up the manual and started learning. Little did I know that would be the beginning of a long and prosperous journey with SAS.
Since then, I've had several jobs in companies of various sizes, and I now have the privilege of working as an independent consultant. The constant in all of it has been using SAS software to take a pile of data and turn it into meaningful information. These skills continue to be in high demand, and my expertise in SAS has opened numerous doors for me in my career.
Beyond a career, SAS has also given me a community through its user groups. I started attending SAS user groups about 15 years ago - local user groups, regional user groups, special-interest groups like PharmaSUG, and of course, SAS Global Forum. Every time I attend one of these events, I gain new knowledge and insights. Perhaps more importantly, I build relationships with other SAS users, including many SAS employees. As a result of my involvement with SAS user groups, I have a diverse and extensive professional network, which is absolutely vital to an independent consultant.
SAS Global Forum 2018 was excellent. Here are a few highlights from my experience:
- I attended the legendary Art Carpenter's hands-on workshop on PROC FCMP, which lets you compile your own SAS functions. I knew this existed, but hadn't used it before. Now that I know more about it, opportunities to use it are popping up everywhere.
- I listened to Phil Holland speak on The Art of Defensive Programming. I've long been a believer in defensive programming, but Phil's talk gave some new and interesting nuggets on how to cope with unexpected data.
- I had the pleasure of serving as a Code Doctor, which is always a lot of fun. I enjoy the opportunity to help users with their tricky coding problems. It's fun, I get to meet new people, and I usually learn something I didn't know before!
- I gave my own invited presentation, Merge with Caution: How to Avoid Common Problems when Combining SAS Datasets. I was pleased to have a good crowd in the room, and I was able to award many attendees the special "Safe Merger" ribbons I printed up for the occasion. Are you a safe merger?
- I saw a cousin I hadn't seen in ten years. He was at the conference too. What a small world!
I look forward to attending several more SAS user group events this year, and of course, returning to SAS Global Forum next year. I hope to see you at one of them!
I enjoyed chatting with Josh. He is multi-talented and wears many hats, like many of the SAS users I meet. He's a good presenter and a great organizer of user groups. I think Josh hit the nail on the head when he spoke about the communities that we build when we attend SAS user groups. Human beings are social, even the quiet analytical ones among us. We crave togetherness and when that happens in a shared common interest like SAS, great bonding and amazing innovation happens as a result.
About Josh Horstman
Josh Horstman is an independent statistical programming consultant and trainer with 20 years’ experience using SAS in the life sciences industry. He specializes in analyzing clinical trial data, and his clients have included major pharmaceutical corporations, biotech companies, and research organizations. He loves coding and is a SAS Certified Advanced Programmer. Josh enjoys presenting at SAS Global Forum and other SAS User Group meetings.