Interview Alan Churchill Savian

An interview with Alan Churchill, SAS Consultant and Alumni of SAS Institute.

Ajay- What’s the latest trend you see in Computer Programming over the next year and next three to five years.

Alan- Silverlight and Flex will be huge and will really enable much more SaaS. The current web simply needs wholesale replacement to make it more usable for business applications. These new RIAs will allow us, as developers, to take it to a whole new level. Expect a massive influx of dollars into web redesign and redevelopment.

Ajay-  Tell us how you came in this field of work, and what factors made you succeed.

Alan- I got into computers in high school (this was very early computing). I loved the sense of challenge that computers offered: they were a big crossword puzzle. I succeeded because I never viewed a problem the way a typical computer person or scientist would view them. As a history guy, I took a more holistic approach to problems. Heck, if you don’t know about a particular theory, you won’t be constrained by it. If you do know it, sometimes ignore it to get the job done, even if it isn’t as pretty.

Ajay-  Most challenging and fun project you ever did (anonymous details)

Alan- I have had many, many rewarding projects. As a consultant, every job is different. However, the spare time project one I am currently working on (figuring out the layout of the sas dataset) is perhaps my favorite due to the complexity.

Ajay- Advice to people wanting to join computer programming as a career- Positive Things, Challenges, Skill Requirements.

Alan- First of all, programming is hard so be prepared to work to be good. Never ever stop evolving and looking for the next thing: you are only as good as your last 18 months of experience.

The career is very rewarding since you are continuously facing challenges that must be overcome. Computers have no patience for mistakes so they require a lot of patience for programmers.

Always, always, always think outside of the box. Approach problems differently. If you hit an obstacle, move around it rather than always trying to burrow through. At the end of the day, it is all about getting the job solved at the speed of business not finding a cool, nifty new algorithm: do that on your spare time.

Ajay- Would you like to visit India for work/travel.

Alan- I honestly don’t like to travel long distances. After a long corporate career flying over a million miles, travel is simply taxing to me and takes me away from what I love to do: programming. As a history major, I love various cultures and would enjoy the beauty and history that India provides but would dread the flight ;-]


Alan Churchill has been coding in SAS for over 20 years and worked at SAS as a senior consultant for 5 1/2 years.At SAS, Alan worked on the Microsoft-SAS Alliance and helped SAS customers integrate with .NET. He is also responsible for coding the engine for SAS’s web analytics product. Currently, he is the owner of Savian which specializes in Microsoft-SAS solutions. He lives and works in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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