Hard to believe its been one year, but it was June, 2018 when I joined the unstoppable company known as Microsoft.
I joined, with the expectation that I would leave much of what I had specialized in behind me- Oracle, along with other non-Microsoft database platforms, Linux, optimization and DevOps. I was excited to start my journey in business intelligence. Power BI was already starting to take over the world. I’d noticed the patterns, having only arrived on the BI scene in 2015, it was encompassing a larger percentage of speaker sessions and focus of content on the web. Users were incredibly interested in doing more with their data, not just having someplace to relationally work with it and as it grew, deal with the challenge of big data.
It was an exciting change, no doubt.
A year in, a lot has chanced, but not as much as I thought. I’m still excited to learn about more Power BI, Analysis Services, Databricks and other analytics features and I’m still coming up to speed. Its not easy to take it all in, as so much changes so fast. There is a new release just of the Power BI desktop software monthly. Features buzz past my head and I learn fast, but my role has also surpassed my expectations. As a data platform architect, the role was to perform the same tasks as my peers, but soon after I joined, we realized I had arrived with different skills and that this was not a deficit, but a benefit.
Before, where we all acted as individual armies of one and worked more isolated from our team members, we’ve become more interactive and separated by specialties. Where I’m now focused on many of the customers with cross-platform database migrations and automation quests that we once wouldn’t have taken on, my team mates, Hope Foley and Dustin Ryan, focus on the deeper analytics and AI demands. We’re not as territory driven, although we do have territories assigned to us. The sales and project roles around us are starting to recognize who to reach out to when a specialty is required, (or we refer to who we should on our team…)
So here I am, writing a ton of BASH automation scripts, architecting massive Oracle VM environments on Azure, helping partners automate their deployments with customers, teaching Linux and working with other database platforms on Azure. I still spend about 30% of my engagements on analytics, but I sure didn’t envision that I would be spending as much time as I am using my skills from my previous roles entwined with Azure. It’s all the warm and fuzzy wrapped up in the new, which is damn good, fun.
This couldn’t happen without good leadership and we have that at Microsoft. Our Manager, Denny Ramsey is very good about letting me run, well amok and as many folks know, my amok is a good thing. I try to find ways to be more productive and valuable to the group. I’m also pretty open about where my deficits are. I would like to be farther advanced in my analytics skills, but I also know that something has to give. This year, with what I had to learn in Azure alone took up most of the year. I’m definitely not bored…😊
A lot of the credit goes to Microsoft, (and some may say this is just my opinion) the company vision and integrity come from the top down. Many articles are written about the changes that Satya Nadella have put into place since 2014, but it really is an awe inspiring realization when you work here. It was apparent to me from the moment I was hired and started my onboarding. I noted the desire for real change, real results and real conversations. Problems don’t disappear because you whisk them under the rug. Problems are resolved by addressing them and people at Microsoft aren’t afraid of taking on difficult issues. They are changing the competitive perspective to one of competing with no one but yourself, making everyone around you better and that is the key to success.
If anyone is looking for complaints, nope, you aren’t going to find them from me. This is how I think it should be done.
On the community front, I’ve been allowed to continue volunteering and provide content. I blog about once per week, (now that I’m getting back into the swing of things.) I’m still the remote president of the Denver SQL Server User Group and I still speak at conferences. I spoke at 20+ SQL Saturday’s in the last year, along with two Oracle conferences and PASS Summit. In the last year, I’ve been part of three books, two finished, one in the works and once I’m finished with the last one, there’s another one to start. One of the books was the “Crushing the IT Gender Bias”, a book that was long overdue and a labor of love for me. I’ve written four articles for Redgate Simple Talk on Linux and was part of a few webinars with the wonderful people at Redgate, too. I’ve done webinars for Microsoft and Idera, along with my first Microsoft and PASS blog posts.
Social Media has become easier to communicate and maintain. The Microsoft community is deeply dedicated to their social media interactions and appear to understand social media etiquette more often, too. Where I used to get at least one awkward twitter conversation or DM per week, two years ago, I haven’t had one for months, so hats off to you, Microsoft community, I block a lot less these days, too… 😊
It doesn’t mean it’s perfect or that I don’t have days I leave work mentally exhausted, but it’s for the right reasons and not a frivolous waste of time. I’m alright with that and look forward to my future here at Microsoft.