Lunch with Greg Baldini

On 11/12/2016 I had lunch with Greg Baldini, BI Consultant at GNet Group, Power BI Community contributor, and overall MSBI pro at Jacob’s Wirth in Boston. Greg works out of GNet’s Philadelphia office but was in town on vacation and we hadn’t talked for a couple years. In terms of designing and implementing a large scale modern MSBI solution (in all the forms that can take), from I see in the field at least, I consider Greg to be one of the best.

Note: There are no guarantees or timelines but Greg may publish a technical post or paper here on Insight Quest and he may also be a guest speaker at an upcoming Boston Business Intelligence event.

So why blog about this?

Greg is only 27 years old. He’s obtained vast, tangible results in terms of skill development and delivery experience in a short period of time. I think it’s healthy to study and, if you’re fortunate enough, build relationships with people like Greg (especially if they’re in your field) to understand their mentality, values, habits, and ideas/vision. Additionally, I recently wrote that I believe it’s very hard for a Power Pivot Pro to become an actual BI professional but Greg has.

I don’t want to go into details but it was a very lively, long conversation that cut across many topics including, of course, the DAX programming language, Power BI (particularly content collaboration), the MSBI Roadmap with the ongoing on-premises option situation, Power Query/M language integration, consulting scenarios we’ve found ourselves in, and how we see the industry and our careers evolving. In many ways I think we bring out the best in each other – we both agreed that it’s not often we get to talk with someone that’s as deep into this in both mind and heart.

Note: I’m certain we were almost asked to quiet down by the group at the table next to us on at least two occasions – once when Greg was talking about usage of the EARLIER() DAX function (and variables now) and once when I was discussing improper usage of calculated columns.

So here’s my main points and I’ll wrap up:

Greg loves his work. The work itself, not the money, the titles, the speaking events and the accolades, etc. I remember leaving the GNet office late on several occasions when the lights were going off and Greg was still there at his desk grinding through his projects (with his own lights). Greg’s that rare BI pro that takes it very personally – meeting a  project requirement isn’t enough, having a happy client, team and manager isn’t enough, he truly wants to build something that’s great, and he does.

Greg’s an idealist and in some real ways, an artist. He looks at data projects and business intelligence in a very holistic, imaginative way. He of course knows the tools at a deeply technical level and the current standards and best practices but he thinks at a highly abstract level with a very open and curious mind. When I think of some past colleagues that I didn’t particularly care to work with it was because they’d lost their sense of wonder and were unwilling to take any risks or explore or push themselves in new and different directions. (In some ways this goes back to that Teenager and Old Man post – balancing exuberance with maturity).

Note: In terms of the Power Pivot to BI pro conversation I’d just advise that Greg readily admits he’s been good at practically every endeavor. So as much as you may share some of his traits and motivation, you also have to acknowledge that you may not be genetically capable of learning at the same rate and depth.

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