Awarded as a Microsoft Regional Director
I was happy and humbled to learn that I was selected to be a part of the Microsoft Regional Director program today, and wanted to that everyone that has been sending their congratulations via Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook for the kind words and support. I’m joining a talented group of people (and a number of close friends) who provide guidance and expertise not only to the customer community, but to Microsoft product teams and leadership. Unlike the Microsoft MVP program, which recognizes community contributions for the past year, the RD program requires active participation — and I’m excited to be able to work even closer with Microsoft, the RD and MVP community, and customers.
For those of you unfamiliar with the program, the RD website describes it as follows:
“The Regional Director Program provides Microsoft leaders with the customer insights and real-world voices it needs to continue empowering developers and IT professionals with the world’s most innovative and impactful tools, services, and solutions. Established in 1993, the program consists of 150 of the world’s top technology visionaries chosen specifically for their proven cross-platform expertise, community leadership, and commitment to business results.”
While I had been aware of the program for a few years, like many of you, I was unclear on what responsibilities came with the title until last year when several friends were awarded, and I learned more. The FAQs on the website provide some further detail:
“Regional Directors act in a non-paid advisory capacity with Microsoft. On an ongoing basis, RDs are asked to participate in scheduled strategic feedback sessions with Microsoft senior leadership teams. Because of their community leadership positions, passion, commitment to technology and business excellence, RDs have a regular outlet where they can express real-time customer and community feedback directly with Microsoft engineers and the senior leadership team, including Satya.
“We like to think of RDs as technology generalists. Most of them have significant technology backgrounds but have progressed their careers to the point where they have architect level depth across both Microsoft and non-Microsoft platforms. This uniquely helps qualify them to work with our product teams to understand the needs of all customers which ultimately helps us build better products.
“Many of our RDs also carry the MVP award title, although most of them are finding it harder to maintain both credentials as each has different demands on the member’s time which makes it difficult to qualify and maintain both. However, the key differences really come down to the business consultative nature, customer experience, and cross platform architect skills possessed by RDs versus the deep technical focus which qualifies an MVP.”
There are so many things about my work that I absolutely love, but a highlight of my career these past 7 years has been as a member of the MVP community. Years ago I used to joke that I was “a marketing guy surrounded by engineers” because for the first 19 years of my career I had two marketing/business degrees and yet had never had an actual marketing role. Most of my experience was in program or product management roles working side by side with engineers and support operations teams. [I should point out that I don’t count my entrepreneurial efforts, because you wear so many hats — and marketing was more of a task than a role with my startups.] When I left Microsoft, I knew I wanted to shift my focus from technical PM roles into marketing, and I was lucky enough to team up with some great leaders and entrepreneurs at echoTechnology and Axceler that were supportive (and also knew when to get out of the way). It was the environment I needed to become an MVP, putting me on the path to becoming a Regional Director.
I really do appreciate all the help I’ve had along the way, beginning with my second visit to Microsoft campus back in 2004 where Joel Oleson (@joeloleson) showed me the latest with the SharePoint platform (which I told him was junk compared to the PLM/PDM technology I had been working with for years), and then a year and a half later, I joined his team — and we shared an office for a while until he shifted roles and joined the product team. On that team I befriended great folks who helped me along the way, like Bill Baer, Mike Watson, Kimberly Ward (Buchanan), Derek O’Loughlin, Charles Ofori, and Jim Adams, and then went on to work with inspiring folks like Garry Smith, Mike Alden, Jeff Gore, Gail Shlansky, Chris Essler, and so many others.
It’s never a good thing to try and thank everyone by name, because you’re bound to leave someone out, but I do want to thank my fellow MVPs for making this community so rewarding — but especially those who supported my nomination for the RD program: Eric Overfield, Dux Raymond Sy, Michelle Caldwell, Dan Holme, Jeff Teper, Gavriella Schuster, and many others. I am looking forward to participating in the program and providing even more constructive feedback to the product teams, and will see many of you at BUILD in a couple weeks. My flights are booked, the rental car reserved, and my sister and her kids warned that I’ll be crashing on her couch. See you in Seattle!