How a dyslexic can obtain Microsoft Solutions Expert Status in Data Management and Analytics and how you can too

I am keen to give presentations including Q and A in any Data Analytics based event or user group on this subject since I genuinely believe I can and will transform lives by empowering others to achieve this certification or indeed study for any examination.
About Me
I understand that I was one of the first people in the world to obtain this new certification since I passed all the exams required for this award during November 2017. Passing exams is not easy for me since I have a formal mild dyslexia diagnosis. I am also married with young children. My day job consists of holding down a series of stressful contracts. So in summary I am very time poor as well as dyslexic.

Why is Microsoft Certification Important?
It is a tragedy that many consultants move from role to role where they are mainly re-writing other peoples’ designs. This is often caused by the original designers not having the pre-requisite skill sets. As data analytics professionals we are in a unique position to make the world a better place. Many of the world problems will be solved at least in part by good data analytics. Whether it be cancer treatment, hunger, mental health treatment, Alzheimer’s management or more mundane but no less important tasks such as ensuring a bank or insurance company can take a financial hit, ensuring local governments are making best use of their resources, etc.
Microsoft certification is therefore a significant tool is reducing the probability of us re-visiting the starting block and increasing the possibility of us making a difference!

About You
You probably want to gain Microsoft Certification however you are daunted about how high the bar is set for this certification. So to achieve this certification you are concerned that you simply don’t have enough time to prepare.

How I achieved this certification in order of importance…
1) Get work experience which covers as much of the exam structure as possible.

a. You cannot pass with self-study alone. Although evidencing that you are working towards this certification on your CV does impress potential employers.
b. You may need to travel further to get relevant work experience.
c. You may even need to accept work at a reduced rate of pay to get relevant work experience.
d. A quicker certification to achieve is the Edx Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Power BI course.

2) Self Study

a. Self study is no substitute for relevant work experience. So the reality is you won’t find a job which covers all the exam content. So self-study is essential to cover the exam structure not covered by your work experience.
b. Example self study resources are..
i. Safari,
ii. Power BI Books,
iii. Resources,
iv. SQL 2017 download
v. Power BI download,
vi. Mock tests e.g. measureup
vii. Subscribe to blogs, e.g. Power BI Blog,  Chris Webbradacad, sqlbisqldusty.

3) Help Others

a. Forums, e.g. Power BI Community,  Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View,  Analysis Services
b. Training
c. Mentoring in the work place
d. Blog on your experience, invite constructive feedback
4) Learning Media

a. Memory Cards,
b. MP3 /IPOD,
c. Smart Phone,
d. MP4,
e. Kindle

5) Innovative Ways of Digesting Information when you have small pockets of time and / or you are tired.

a. Traveling to work
b. Waiting time, doctors, queues, dentist
c. Relaxing, e.g. in a bath whilst memory cards of potential exam answers are read out to you from a battery powered speaker.

6) Buddy up

a. Advertise for a friend at work, Facebook, college, LinkedIn where you can study together.

7) Re-discover your learning style.

The chances are it’s a while since you were at school, plus the tools available to self study are now hugely benefical. When managing expectations in terms of how long it will take you to be ready to sit an exam. Be mindful that learning or re-learning how to learn is a project in itself. Once you have found a way that works for you, you will find it much more easy to sit and pass future exams.

8) Boot camps

Boot camps are great when you need to hit the ground running for a new technology and the boot camp is funded by your employer. The quality of the learning material and tutoring is often very high. However since Microsoft set the bar very high the ratio of students actually passing the exams at the end can be quite low. Boot camps also tend to be quite expensive. Boot camps can get you over the finishing line however they don’t replace the right combination of work experience and self study.


Further Points to Note or Re-iterate
Studying for certification will sharpen your skills even if you never pass any certification exam.
Once you gain a certification it is much easier to maintain it. Just make sure you continue to learn the latest versions. Exam questions are generally biased towards the latest features.

Further Links








Enterprise Business Intelligence Solutions and Power BI

In the context of an Enterprise wide solution Power BI tends to be used more at the beginning and at the end of an Enterprise wide Business Intelligence solution. The rest of the time the Enterprise wide solution architecture needs to be developed.

Power BI tends to be used at the beginning of an Enterprise Business Intelligence project since Power BI is an excellent prototyping tool.

Power BI tends to be used more towards the end of an Business Intelligence project once the data warehouse / cube has passed the initial testing and the self service report delivers have been fully trained.

I hope you find the diagram in the following link helpful ..

As always your constructive comments are most welcome.

Why is Power BI a Data Revolution?

Click on the following link to see why I understand Power BI is a data revolution … . This is certainly an ongoing work in progress. However I believe I have done enough to be helpful.

Clicking on the like button is nice. However what is more useful are your comments including constructive criticisms.

As always I offer free demonstrations provided that there is the real possibility of paid work at the end of this demonstration. I can work anywhere in the world. I am only limited by the fact that I only speak English.

DAX Basic Reference

Power BI is causing a revolution in the world of data analytics mainly because it is feature rich, has a low cost and a high degree of synergy with other products such as Excel online, SSRS and R.

For some people the barrier to pick up Power BI is learning the Power BI language DAX (Data Analysis eXpressions).

To hold down a very intense contract on Power BI (backed up with 3 Linkedin recommendations on I created a Word document where I documented the most commonly used DAX commands that I used within this contract. So when I received a new business requirement which I needed to implement in DAX in the first instance I re-read and updated this Word document to gain an idea of which DAX function I should use. I also looked at other resources such as those listed within …

In the interests of serving the Power BI community and saving people from going through the pain I went through I have converted this Word document to a web page .

Of course the above is a work in progress as my knowledge and experience of DAX grows. As always your constructive feedback is appreciated.

Presentation On Power BI and SQL 2016

Many thanks to all you who heard me present at SQL Relay 2016 in Nottingham, UK.

I am updating my slides in the evenings and weekends due to the exciting and every changing world of Power BI

I have updated  the following link with my latest slides; –
It’s getting more difficult to present the existing content within the typical 60 minute slot offered. So I intend to split this presentation into several smaller and more detailed presentations with headings similar to the following …

1) Different Methods Of Querying Data In A Tabular Format Within PowerBI

2) Overview of the Microsoft Business Intelligence Architecture and Data Life Cycle

3) Power BI Gateway set up with on premises server data source.

4) Power BI Gateway setup with Azure data source.

5) Creating and Optimising DAX using DAX Studio.

6) Choosing the right chart types in Power BI

A mixture of the content will continue to be freely available. Some of the content will be available via

So I will continue to strive to create original content which does not overlap with the free resources described within the following link .. Power BI Free Demonstration and Resources

Power BI Free Demonstration and Resources

Free Demonstration

Get on board the Power BI revolution by empowering non technical business stakeholders to make decisions based on their own data or other freely available mature data sets using advanced attractive visualizations.
I am offering a free demonstration of Power BI either remotely via Skype or on site depending on your location.
Add a comment to this post if you want me to contact you.


Comparing and Contrasting Different Methods of Querying data in a Tabular Format within  the Microsoft Business Intelligence stack including Power BI, Excel 2016 and SSRS 2016

Introducing Power BI Free ebook

Online Course: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Power BI

Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Free Ebook

Applied Microsoft Power BI: Bring your data to life!

Microsoft Excel 2013: Building Data Models with PowerPivot (Business Skills)

The Definitive Guide to Dax



DAX Patterns 2015

M Is for (Data) Monkey

Power BI Fantasy

Power Query for Power BI and Excel

OLAP PivotTable Extensions & DAX Studio

Many to Many Relationships in Power BI and Excel 2016

SQL Server 2016 Step-By-Step: Installing a Free Evaluation

Power Pivot Utilities

Import Power BI Desktop Model to SSAS Tabular 2016

I look forward to your comments, enjoy !!!