Mark Relph Bio Pic - PhotoJunkie - May 2008I love my job.  I really do.  Not everyone gets to say that with as much passion as I can, so it’s a special privilege to be in this position (particularly in this economy).

I believe that my role here at Microsoft Ca nada is one of the best in all of Microsoft.  The mission of the job is amazing – connect with Canada’s Technology Professionals, build Canadian momentum for key strategic technologies and help support Canadian technology innovation.  For the last 3 years as VP/Director, and 3 years before that as a member of the Canadian Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE) Team it has been a pleasure to pursue that mission across Canada’s IT industry.

I have a truly amazing team – the finest group of people I’ve had a chance to work with so far in my career.  In 5+ years, DPE Canada has accomplished a lot as a group.  The list is so long that I cannot possibly capture it all, but a few things jump to mind.  We’ve fundamentally changed how we go to market and redesigned our approach to engaging Canada’s technology professionals – Techdays, EnergizeIT, Ignite Your Career all come to mind.  We embraced social media in order to maintain a two-way dialogue with the tech audience.  We’ve been a part of some of the largest product launches including Visual Studio, SQL Server, Windows Server & Windows Vista.  The Visual Studio business has grown significantly in the last 3 years, despite the recent economic downturn.  We have helped .NET grow to almost 80% marketshare in Canada and we are now working to help drive momentum around new elements of our platform like Silverlight.  There are countless customers that we have helped to do amazing things with our technology – The Weather Network, CTV, Bank Of Montreal just to name a few.  Helping Canadian software vendors has always been a focus for us and I know we have directly helped hundreds of companies over the years.  We’ve become a first class citizen in the technology community – participating in events like MESH and StartupEmpire.  I’m proud of the partnerships we have forged across Canada with academic institutions like Waterloo & OCAD and with industry associations like CATA, ACCC and CIPS.  As I look to the near future there are even more great things to come for DPE Canada – including the launch of Windows 7 in Canada.

With all that background I can say that it is with very mixed emotions that share some news with you.  As the saying goes ‘the only constant is change’ and the time has come for me to take on my next challenge. 

After 11 years at Microsoft Canada, I have accepted a role in Redmond as the Senior Director of the Windows Ecosystem Team, reporting toMike Nash , Corporate Vice President, Windows Product Management

This is a very exciting opportunity for me.  I have always said that I would move to Redmond for the right job.  One that has incredible strategic impact – something that could help shape the future of the company.  This role definitely fits the bill.  It’s a big, exciting, daunting, awesome, scary, amazing challenge.  I think it is a great fit for my skills and my passion for our technology.  Starting in July, I will be responsible for driving the overall Windows Ecosystem strategy that will ensure world class compatibility, drive innovation on the platform and deliver a clear message to developers on why their long term bet for their business is the Windows platform.  Windows is at the heart of the Microsoft – it’s our flagship product.  It’s an area where we’ve been working hard to do better - Windows 7 is evidence of that hard work.  It is critical to ensure that Windows benefits from a healthy partner ecosystem and a big part of my new job is to help show that hardware and software innovation is a differentiating asset of the Windows franchise.

Looking ahead, I am not only excited about the business challenge but also about everything I will experience in the new job.  Redmond is a totally different place compared to the field and I know I have lots of learn.  As great as my current team is, I am very excited to meet my new team and learn more about the great things they are doing.  Bottom line – I have a chance to help a new team succeed and to make a difference in Redmond.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s incredibly exciting (and a little scary as well!)

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an incredibly proud Canadian.  I believe in Canada - our people, our technology industry and our potential for innovation.  I’ve been dedicated to helping Canada’s technology community for a long time, so moving away is hard – both personally (our friends and life are in Toronto and we will dearly miss being here) as well as professionally.  I like to think of it this way – if a little Canadian talent and innovation can help make Windows even better, than it is a worthwhile export investment.  I’ll always be Canadian and a Torontonian at heart.  I will commit publically today to remain connected to Canada is a variety of ways and I hope to be invited back often to participate in the technology community.  You haven’t seen the last of me, that is for sure.

I would like to thank Phil Sorgen, the President of Microsoft Canada and the rest of the Microsoft Canada Leadership Team for all their support over the last 3 years.  They are a great group of people and I think Microsoft Canada benefits tremendously from their great leadership.

Finally, to everyone across Canada I have had the pleasure of working with – our customers, partners, the developer & IT Professional community, academic institutions and industry group – I want to say thank you.  

I will begin transitioning to my new role during July and August.  The search for my successor will begin right away.  Whoever that person is, I know that will share my passion for Canada’s potential and will help DPE Canada to continue to make an impact and to evolve.

Again, thanks to my team, my peers, the community, our customers & partners for making 11 years in Canada a blast.  I will dearly miss everyone, but I leave really excited about the future.