My Database Life

mlchaplin_sqNow IT Matters would like to welcome Michelle Regal to our team! She comes to us from PBS and we are so excited about having her join our team. The following post was originally published on Michelle's Blog, The Dev-Admin. Michelle is an active participant on the Power of US Hub, a long-time member of NTEN, and a newly minted member of the Girlforce Leadership Team. When I was eight or nine years old, my dad gave me his old work computer – I think it was an IBM 486.

The first thing I did was create a database, although I don’t think I realized that’s what I did. I cataloged all my books – I think I may have included a few library books as well (shh!) – so I could easily call up all the works by a specific author, in a certain genre, etc.

Of course, it was always easier to just look at the books on my shelves than to actually use the database, but that’s kind of beside the point.

I loved the idea of capturing and organizing information, and then analyzing it to reveal even more information. Like, nearly half the books in my library were by Stephen King. And I still couldn’t persuade my mom to let me watch IT.


Data and databases followed me through high school, where my Computer Science project involved creating a payroll database using C++, and college, where I spent four years of work-study in a film library building databases and doing database entry.

I even scored an internship creating an Access database and cataloging films for a nonprofit. After college, I went on to create a video database in FinalCutPro for that same nonprofit before migrating their fundraising database to Raiser’s Edge.

At this point, you might think I noticed a pattern and just started referring to myself as the Data Guru and spouting appropriately nerdy references like, “All you (data)base are belong to me.”

But I didn’t. I didn’t even consider myself a techie. In the nonprofit world, the techie was an IT contractor who came in every so often to troubleshoot network setups and check on the server (side note: remember when servers actually lived in our offices?). I was just the fundraiser who knew a lot about computers. They called me 99 at the office because I was always able to figure things out.


Then I met Salesforce, and everything changed.

Nonprofits were seduced by the free licenses to this incredibly powerful database management system. I was seduced by the flexibility. (And if you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a sucker for databases.)

Pretty soon, my office mates were calling me the Salesforce Guru, and my motto was, “Salesforce can do that.” It became a running joke, as co-workers asked if Salesforce can make them coffee or order Thai food*.

In my next job interview, I said one of my skills was that I spoke fluent database. I got the job.

I still didn’t fully identify as a techie, though. My job was billed as a marketing position with some database administration and development. In actuality, it was the reverse.

I toyed with the idea of being a database expert for all the nonprofits instead of just the one I was working for. In other words, I toyed with the idea of becoming a full-time consultant, and making my database and Salesforce expertise my primary selling point.

Then I met Now IT Matters, and everything changed.

Okay, not everything. But my job did!

I’m so excited to be a Senior Consultant with this incredible organization that uses Salesforce to help nonprofits do good better. I get to work with a variety of nonprofits and be a full-time database guru!