2020 - My First Microsoft MVP Award

Today I was awarded my very first Microsoft MVP award. I am very honored to receive this award and it has been quite a journey the past 18 months, give or take. I have seen many others post their experience getting to this point in their journey, so I would like to take this post to do the same as well as to thank those that supported me in getting here. Let's start with how I got here. As I have documented on other posts on this site, I had fundamental Microsoft Azure experience prior to 2019. In late 2018, I decided that I was going to dive both feet into Microsoft Azure, and that is what I did. Within the first six months of 2019, I had obtained the Azure Fundamentals, Azure Administrator, Azure Solutions Expert, Azure Developer Associate, Azure Security Engineer Associate, and Azure Data Scientist. Before the end of the year, I had added Azure AI Engineer Associate, Power Platform Fundamentals, and the first exam in the Data Engineer Associate certification. While accomplishing this, I also changed companies and became a Microsoft Certified Trainer. I decided that I was going to create my own identity and dive two feet into the community. I started by creating content for others (thank you, Brette Bossick, Nick Colyer, and Amy Colyer at Skylines Academy!) and then branched into creating my own blog site, using a name coined by one of my co-workers of Captain Hyper-scaler. I reached out to some of the local community "Meetups" but they weren't very active, so I started to follow some contributors on Twitter and find out what they were doing. I would have to say that my first real opportunity came when I found out about Gregor Suttie and Richard Hooper's Azure Advent Calendar. They immediately welcomed me into their community and I would have to say, that the #AzureFamily #CloudFamily is an amazing group of people. Doing the video for the Azure Advent Calendar pushed me out of my comfort zone and I loved it. I wanted to do more presenting and content. In December, I was accepted to be a MCT Regional Lead for the next two years starting January 2020, which I was extremely excited. In February, Joe Carlyle and Thomas Thornton then gave me the opportunity to contribute to Azure Spring Clean. I also submitted a breakout for Ignite the Tour in Chicago, and I was accepted. (Covid-19 kept this from happening but it was still a piece of recognition that I was proud of). Then came April, this is when I really felt the power of the Microsoft community as I was given the opportunity to create two video breakouts and a live session for Global Azure Virtual 2020 with the UK and Ireland team. Thanks to Gregor Suttie, Allen O'Neill, Hugo Barona, Richard Hooper, and many others that coordinated this event. It was a blast to be a part of it and hope to be again next year. In May, I launched my own user group out of Michigan, with inclusion for anyone around this world, since all meetings are virtual. I was in awe of the willingness of others in the community, especially MVPs, wanting to help me get started and contribute to my meetings. Thanks to Wim Matthyssen, Tim Hermie, and Vukasin Terzic for presenting at those first couple of meetings that had one participant. And things have turned around the past couple of months and I think that the user group is going to do well now. After Global Azure Virtual, Hugo Barona reached out to me about an initiative for a Cloud Lunch and Learn group that he wanted me to provide the content for the first meeting. I have presented sessions for this group on 7 occasions and have more to come with another training series in October and a special event that will be announced soon. Thank you, Hugo, for the opportunity. As I start this month of September with my first MVP Award, I am also starting my own community event, Azure Back to School, https://azurebacktoschool.tech. This event has shown again the power of the Microsoft community. I filled most of the slots for this event when I originally presented it to the community in March and added more when I was preparing everything last month. Again, an overwhelming thanks to the community for their contributions. I plan to make this event an annual one to fill in the gap between Azure Spring Clean and Azure Advent Calendar. It has been fun to put together. Once again, I would like to personally thank some community members that didn't know me at first, but welcomed me in like a long time friend. I am privileged to call you my friends and colleagues, and wouldn't have this award without you.... Nick Colyer, Brette Bossick, Amy Colyer, Gregor Suttie, Richard Hooper, Joe Carlyle, Thomas Thornton, Allen O'Neill, Hugo Barona, Wim Matthyssen, Tim Hermie, Vukasin Terzic, Vaibhav Gujral, Lisa Clark, Steve Ross (*special thanks for the nomination), and many, many others that I may be forgetting. The best is yet to come! I look forward to continuing to work with all of you in the Microsoft community! THANK YOU!