Redgate's Exceptional DBA competition

Redgate’s Exceptional DBA competition is back for a third year! I was one of the judges for this last year and, while I’m not judging it this year, I do have some advice for anyone considering entering.

Be Explicit and detailed

This is not a competition won by luck. There are no dice rolled, no coins tossed, no numbers drawn from a hat.

As an entrant, you need to convince the judges that you (or the person you are nominating) are the best of the best. The only thing that you can use to do that are the answers on the entry form.

The more the better (within reason). To give an idea, last year the answers to one question (What’s the hallmarks of an exceptional DBA?) ranged from one word to half a page. Which of those two do you think the judges rated higher?

If you can, get a colleague to read over your answers before submitting them. Ask them for their opinion, ask them if there are any pieces that they’d change or add to show you (or the person you are nominating) in their very best light.

Spell check

Please, please, please run a spell check and grammar check over your entries before submitting. This goes double if English (or American) is not your first language. There is nothing that makes an entry look bad more than por speeling thet teh jugdes mast spand tyme desifering.

No, not all of us speak English fluently, but there are enough grammar and spell checkers available (hint Firefox includes one if you download the dictionary) that not bothering shows a lack of interest and professionalism. Besides, if the judges can’t work out what you’re saying, they’re not going to rate your entry highly.

On this point, watch the l33t speak and SMS/twitter style word-shortening. They’re harder to read that fully written out words, and space is not at a premium for these entries. Again, you should be trying to show that you are a professional, much like you would when writing up a CV.

Watch the humour

What’s funny for one person may be annoying or offensive to another. A joke about ‘cleaning up after those incompetent developers’ may not be funny to a judge who is a developer or comes from a development background. Again, keep it professional, imagine that these answers are going to be seen by the CIO/owner/MD of the company you work for.

Along the same lines, funny answers aren’t. One entry last year, for the question “Why do you deserve to win?”, gave as an answer “No idea ;-)”

Well dude, if you don’t know why you should win, I sure as hell don’t.

In Conclusion

If you’re planning to enter this competition, you have one chance to make an impression with the judges – your answers. Make it the best impression that you can.


  1. Henrico

    Thank you Gail, it’s nice to get an insider’s view.
    Would they consider the applicants skills and contributions, without thinking “hey, sorry, you only have 3 years of experience” ?

  2. Gail

    Is ‘number of years of experience’ a question? I haven’t looked at this year’s entry form.

    If you think you are good enough, enter (or persuade someone to nominate you). If you think that 3 years experience is enough to make you the best DBA in the world, go ahead.

    I can’t say anything more than is on the public site about the requirements or what the judges may or may not look at and think.

  3. Matt

    Oh, come on, Gail. We all know that you’re the best DBA in the world. So why are all these other people trying? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Gail

    I’m not a DBA. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Pingback: Something for the weekend: SQL Server Links for the week 09/05/10

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.