I am frequently asked to help people with their ACE nominations. First I am very honoured, the value of the program to me is peer recognition for what I do, but I do ask myself why do you come to me when your area of expertise is not the same as mine? I am not technical, OK, I am not a technical practitioner, but I am a knowledge sharer, and that is what the program is about. Their technical peers, and at ACE Director level Oracle, will judge their technical ability, but they also need to demonstrate how they give that knowledge back to the community. This means they need to articulate in their nomination what they do; they need to sell themselves.
I am very proud of being an Oracle ACE Director. When I first achieved this, the announcement called it Software Evangelist, a term coined by Apple. I hate it because I am British and we don't like to sell ourselves this way, and I hate it even more because I am a woman and apparently we are even worse at it. Anyway when the announcement was made my HR Director rang me and after congratulating me, said he had amended my title in the system. I am not very quick with humour and didn't understand, so he laughed and told me he had amended my title to read The Reverend Debra Lilley.
Actually I'm quite comfortable to stand up and 'preach' about product, project and people, I'm a very passionate person who when I believe in something, you will find it hard to shut me up.
But I'm still not comfortable will putting myself on a pedestal, which if you know me will sound daft as I love to talk about myself, but not about how wonderful I am. Until social media came along I only had to do this in my CV, and even then I had the same employer for 25 years so it wasn't that important. My delivery of my job was what mattered.
I have had to write a manifesto a few times, mainly for UKOUG, and I had three nerve wracking experiences to get Professional qualifications, the reviews of my portfolios for Chartered Director, Chartered IT Professional and Chartered Engineer (software).
Now we live in a world where self appraisal is important we have to learn to sell ourselves.However today, more and more we are asked to do this, and in a global world it means we British, or any other culture who doesn't do it naturally, needs to step up.
Every year the ACE program reviews the Directors and if they have not continue to share knowledge at the level expected they are asked to step down to ACE or even become Alumni. This does not mean they are no longer technical enough, it may simply be that a new job or project at work means they don't have the time to share as much. It may mean they have family commitments that change what they can do, or they have moved into a different area of technology. It is sad, I miss them but it is fair, the program can't get too big at the top or it looses it differentiation, but at the same time it must not become a closed shop, like a golf club where you can only get in when someone dies. So the annual self appraisal is so important. I know people who have been challenged because they didn't list all their achievements, because they were uncomfortable saying so.
I guess that is why I quite like to do the 'we did this' blog. It is a diary of the amazing opportunities I get, a light hearted look at the awesome times with friends (and family) and recognition of what the ACE program delivers. Technical Knowledge to communities who sometimes struggle to get speakers. Then when it is time to do my annual return it is quite easy.
So when a prospective member of the ACE community comes to me and asks for help, I am happy to do so, to help with what they say, pull out areas they may not have recognised themselves and then coach them in area that they need to work on.
Sometimes I am asked to help with an application I don't believe is just and that is really hard, but I have to be honest to myself and say so. Most often that is where someone is trying to progress through the levels and I believe is not yet at that stage. It isn't my job to judge someone and I have no right and wouldn't tell them not to apply, but I must share my reasons why I don't support it. Remember if I put my name to something Oracle will speak to me direct and I have to justify what I had written, and I can't lie.
The worst thing for is when I think someone should make be included, and they are turned down. Thankfully the ACE team at OTN will give thorough feedback, and then it is my duty to mentor the candidate. Obviously they and I are disappointed but one thing us British do have in our favour is that we can go and have a cup of tea to make things feel better.
And remember if it was easy it wouldn't be valuable.