8 years on the ship
In two months time I will have been eight years in the DPE team at Microsoft New Zealand. During that time I have become part of the furniture (in a good way) and I have had a lot of fun doing it. I find externally to Microsoft people often identify me as “that Microsoft guy” and I’m fine with that.
It’s been an incredible journey starting as an ambitious young evangelist and developing into an ambitious not quite so young evangelist.
Microsoft has been an incredible place to work everyday, it’s challenging and it has a level of intensity seldom found elsewhere. Microsoft hires some of the best people that I have had the privilege to working with (when I first started I was awestruck and liken it to making it to the Olympics and finishing in last place). Microsoft also invests heavily in developing their people and I truly believe I am much more skilled in a number of areas today than I was eight years ago when I first started. I have a quest for knowledge and here I am always learning. Working for Microsoft New Zealand once we have delivered on our “must-dos” we have the freedom to make a difference in New Zealand and beyond, I love that!
Today I am happy to announce that I am the new Director of Developer & Platform Evangelism for Microsoft New Zealand!
So what does that mean, I hear you asking. It means that I now have the privilege to lead the awesome NZ DPE team to “continue” to excite and engage customers and communities about Microsoft’s new and emerging technologies how and in the future.
To use a sporting analogy I am now moving from a player to a player-coach like Tana Umaga did in his transition with Counties Manukau.
Where I Have Come From:
During the last eight years I have lead strategic change with New Zealand developers, government agencies, start-ups, top NZ websites and media companies. This work has evolved into the app focus that we have today in DPE with Windows Azure, Windows Phone and the Windows 8 development ecosystems.
When I sit to write a post like this I ask myself, what have been the real highlights? I present the following list like a TV sitcom’s greatest hits show:
- Web09, Expression for Art’s Sake and introducing Silverlight and Expression to New Zealand
- Many many TechEd keynotes from my first in 2006 to Lou Carbone (“the best keynote ever”) to my Three Screen & A Cloud Keynote to last years keynote featuring the always awesome and inspiring Jer Thorpe.
- Working with the Webstock crew from the beginning to the great heights that they have reached today
- Karl and CJ share their memories
- Chatting to Eric Ries about Start Ups and Webstock
- Chatting with Chris Shiflett at Webstock
- Five years ago I was privileged to present at Webstock a talk aptly titled ‘The Internet Is Not Private Get Over It!’. I think many of these issues around privacy and data portability still exist today.
- My dad (Ted) died suddenly in August 2009 – it shocked me to the core and I responded with a presentation “Failure is the Best Possible Outcome” at the inaugural TEDx conference in Auckland where I was privileged to present alongside other great New Zealanders including Sir Ray Avery.
- I have loved my time at Kiwi Foo over the years and I thank Nat Torkington for including me in many of these ground breaking events.
- My write up from the inaugural 2007 event
- The video wars of 2010 was a particularly interesting topic for me
- This resulted in my presentation at the MIX 2011 conference in Las Vegas on the topic
- I then followed this up by presenting with Chris Double from Mozilla at the inaugural WDCNZ event.
- Traveling to the PDC/ BUILD and MIX conferences in the US on many occasions have been a highlight
- I remember the MIX event at Las Vegas 2010 with Keith Patton, Ben Gracewood and Gus Pickering. This was the event where Windows Phone was unveiled.
- It was this trip that inspired Keith to write his own game for the new platform that eventually lead to his new business working fulltime building apps for Windows.
- Fast forward a couple of years and we make it to the launch of Windows 8 and the awesome NZ built apps that we helped nurture.
- Constantly evangelising within Microsoft, I liken this to trying to steer an aircraft carrier with a tug boat often the best way to get results is to whisper into the ear of the pilot. Our current focus on web standards, design and interoperability I like to think I’ve played a small part in all of that.
What I Have Built:
In my mind the hardest thing about being an evangelist is staying up to date with the doing as well as the showing! I love staying hands on with the technology and I have amassed an interesting portfolio of work over the years in role.
- Building the interactive web experience for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series 2009
- Building a live production video player in Silverlight for tvnz.co.nz
- Building the Slice of Kevin - New Zealand IE8 Web Slice Competition
- Working on the Photosynth project to launch the All Blacks Jersey with Adidas
- Working as a technical project manager on the 2011 Rugby World Cup
- Working with the NV Interactive team on the NZ Cricket Video Vault
- Building the wall of fashion for Air New Zealand Fashion Week (hosted on Windows Azure)
- Creating NZsynth for the Web09 keynote that lead to the work at Te Papa developed by Tim Tait - Kura Pounamu and The Mixing Room
- Building On Sale New Zealand for Windows Phone and Windows 8 leveraging Windows Azure in the backend.
- Building the NZ Herald Windows Phone app including the Windows Azure back-end piece used for tile generation (stay tuned for an updated Windows Phone 8 version coming soon).
Where We Are Going:
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to act in the DPE Director role in New Zealand for a few months. I shared my learning's at the time. The experience was very positive and I was encouraged by the opportunity to focus on the broader aspects of our business and team.
The number one thing for me in the new role is to stay passionate! It is infectious. Leading a team of driven awesome people is an honour and awesomeness happens when we all strive to make a difference collectively.
In DPE we are the team that creates Microsoft’s future. It is our job to create a future that we believe in. Our team operates with the highest level of integrity, we are honest with ourselves and each other even when the news is bad. The next six months are particularly exciting and challenging and as a young team we have much to learn and to teach each other. We strive to stay curious, take the time to listen, learn and observe. We deliver excellence in everything we choose to pursue and we respectively challenge the process, think differently, when it is clear that the old way no longer serves us. We speak up when we see ourselves heading off track. We plan our strategy and lean forward rather than always drawing from the past, we have the freedom to choose. Above all else as a team we have fun, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we enjoy the journey as it a path that we have chosen together.
If you are reading this (yes you got this far) and the thought of a career as an evangelist at Microsoft is something that makes you hungry, it absolutely must be a lifestyle choice and not a job please reach out to me and or others in our team.
I am not replacing my previous role straight away but I am certainly starting to think about how best we can work as a team to tackle head on our exciting new challenges in the months and years to come.