Seize the Day!

In 2006, my then-CIO tasked me with learning about ‘this data warehousing thing’.  I fired up Google, typed in ‘Data Warehouse Higher Education’ and got a hit – Higher Education Data Warehousing Forum.  “Sounds pretty on the nose to me”, I thought and thus began a relationship with an organization that has changed my life and changed the institutions I worked for, all for the better.

In those early days I would read every post with a thirst for the knowledge they offered.  The community was, and still is, extraordinarily generous.  I remember long, detailed responses from people like me who were trying to figure out how to apply dimensional data modeling concepts to our weird world of higher education. I could see new vistas opening up and I wanted to be part of it.

Fast forward 10 years.  The call for board nominations goes out on the Forum, as it did two days ago, and one of my colleagues asks me “are you interested?”  I thought about the intervening years, during which I launched two BI initiatives.    I thought about how finding HEDW led me to a wealth of knowledge that laid the foundations for a career in data and reporting, in putting the power of information into the hands of those who need it (or trying to anyway).  I thought about the interesting colleagues I met at the conferences over the years, and I said ‘Yes!’  It was time to give back and to make sure that this valuable, volunteer-led organization continued to thrive.

Is it time for you to give back?  Serving on the HEDW Board is interesting and challenging work, filled with a sense of purpose and a lot of laughter with amazing people.  If you are at all interested, please consider running for a board seat.  Help us shape the future of data-driven decision making at universities around the world as we adapt to the rapidly changing landscape we inhabit.


Conference Reflections: Cathy Lester Grants

Thinking about attending the annual HEDW Conference?

A few short years ago, when I was new to my job on our University Data Warehouse team, I had the opportunity to attend my first conference. The sessions, the training, the keynote were all on target; but for me, the networking was the most invaluable part of the conference.

Don’t let the cost keep you from this awesome event!

The HEDW Board endeavors to keep the conference costs low, but we know many institutions have budget constraints.  Consequently the HEDW Forum offers two grants to cover the costs of conference attendance in memory of Cathy Lester, one of its founding members. The grants are aimed at institutions with limited data warehousing budgets that could add to the conference and/or benefit from attending. One attendance grant and one speaker’s grant are made annually.

See what last year’s grant winners had to say about the opportunity to attend:

Because of this grant, I was able to share data visualization best practices with my fellow attendees. It was so meaningful for me to receive such positive feedback about the session throughout the conference, and to connect with other data visualization lovers.

In addition to speaking at the conference, this grant also allowed me to experience this conference for the first time. I was able to sit in on talks from institutions around the country and hear solutions for the very issues I had been wrestling with.

I continue to implement the things I learned at the conference in my day-to-day tasks.

Of course, one of my favorite things about being able to attend this conference was the opportunity to network with data warehousing professionals from such a diverse group of institutions. I learned nearly as much from chatting with other attendees over meals and coffee breaks as I did from the structured sessions throughout the conference.

I’m so grateful to the committee for providing me with the opportunity to attend, speak at, and learn from this year’s HEDW Conference!

The conference was fabulous, it was one of the best run conference I have been to in my career!

You can find information on applying for the HEDW Grants here:


Sherri Flaks

IT Director, Enterprise Data & Analytics

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine