Valeria Kaplan

Tags:   postgresql    postgreswomen    pgwomen    marketing    advocacy   
Category:   Interviews   
Interviewed by: Andreas Scherbaum

PostgreSQL is the World’s most advanced Open Source Relational Database. The interview series “PostgreSQL Person of the Week” presents the people who make the project what it is today. Read all interviews here.

Please tell us about yourself, and where you are from.

I am originally from what is now known as Kazakhstan and what was then USSR, but I have moved around the world quite a bit and, at the moment, live in the UK. My background is in communications and marketing and I worked in the pharma industry and academia before joining Data Egret. Prior to that I only had a very remote idea about databases, the nearest that I came to working with them was my experience with FileMaker. Mind you, this experience proved to be quite handy in understanding the processes and challenges surrounding database maintenance.

Valeria Kaplan

Valeria Kaplan

photo by Anna Moskalkova

How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?

I am a mother to a four year old, so I can’t say that I get much of the free time. When I do, I like jogging or walking in nature and cooking. In pre-Covid era I enjoyed traveling, which has often been associated with fantastic locations of PostgreSQL community events. I can’t wait for these to resume and though our lives will never be the same as pre-Covid I do hope we will get some normality.

Any Social Media channels of yours we should be aware of?

Last book you read? Or a book you want to recommend to readers?

I am reading The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff at the moment and can’t recommend it enough. Although it does not directly speak about Postgres or databases, it is about our new reality and the control over the society that became possible with the availability of modern technologies, through which we could gather, analyse and store large amounts of data. Data that, perhaps ironically, is generated by the society itself.
This gives a different perspective to the role that technology and human nature intertwine and shape our future. A thought provoking read.

I have a degree in Communications & Management and have also done some teaching, it has been very helpful to me throughout my career. Mainly, since I believe that good communication and being able to put complex topics in a clear, succinct way is the key to success in any industry and regardless of job type or project that you are pursuing. Communication is important whether you are submitting a new feature for review or writing a press release.

Any favorite movie, or show?

I enjoy Guy Richie, the Cohen Brothers’ movies and any movies that scrutinise one’s way of thinking and challenge the status quo.

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?

I don’t write code, but I do a few things that don’t involve technical background.
I am a member of PGFG (funds group), Postgres Women group and active member on the advocacy mailing list.

Which PostgreSQL conferences do you visit?

I normally go to the annual PGConf.EU conference that unfortunately got cancelled this year. I am also considering going to the FOSDEM PGDay in Brussels that I heard so many good things about and hoping to go again to PostgresOpen in San Francisco which is a bit far for me, but definitely worth the travel due to its fantastic ex-Europe networking opportunities.

Conferences and user group’ meetups are a great entry point for anyone who wants to join the Postgres community. They also run in fantastic locations, so something to look forward to post COVID.

Do you submit talks?

I gave a talk about marketing Postgres at the recent (2019) PGConf.EU conference that was very well received.

Why is the topic of marketing and advocacy relevant for PostgreSQL?

Advocacy has always been and will remain a key aspect of Postgres community. It encourages the growth of the community and increases its members’ engagement and contribution.
Postgres has always attracted fresh minds that were looking for independence and freedom - this means that the community strived on the energy that it gets from its members.

To make sure that our growing community maintains the family feel that it always had, we need to communicate better about how different groups within Postgres community function, what they do and how somebody can take an active part and contribute.

How can somebody start to get involved in the Postgres community?

I would suggest first looking through Postgres mailing lists to see what’s going on in the community, it will give you an idea of those activities that interest you the most. I would also recommend subscribing to Postgres weekly - a weekly newsletter that keeps us up to date with recent developments in the Postgres community. Planet PostgreSQL is another good source for that.
That’s how you will get the exposure to the variety of opportunities for contribution: from submitting new patches and helping during the patch review process during commitfest, to proposing changes and adding useful information to Postgres WIKI, reviewing announcements and press releases through advocacy mailing list, volunteering for various community groups such as Postgres Women or CoC and much more. You can also take the initiative and set up a local user group in your town or country if there isn’t one there already (for instructions on how to do that see here).
In other words, it is open-source, so if you’re looking for an opportunity to contribute to PostgreSQL you will find it.

Do you think PostgreSQL will be here for many years in the future?

I think as long as Postgres remains open source it is here to stay. I hope that the undoubtful benefits of it being an independent, global project, allowing its users to influence its development will take it through the years to come.
Will it be the same Postgres that we know today? Probably not, as it will continue to evolve and diversify together with its growing community and adapt to the industry changes and needs.

Would you recommend Postgres for business, or for side projects?

What I see from our clients, Postgres is a good tool to be used both for main and side projects for businesses of any size. We have large corporations that move from commercial solutions to Postgres, seeking their way out of vendor lock, but also small firms that are looking to minimize their db costs. It all depends on the requirements and relative benefits of working with open-source.

Are you reading any mailing lists?

I’m on the few mailing lists:
-advocacy , -announce , -general , -women

What other places do you hang out?

There are of course some conference and community Facebook groups / Meetup pages / Twitter handles that I follow, among which there is recently launched PostgresTV a fortnightly live video interviews with Postgres contributors, DBAs, hackers and advocates.