MVP Summit 2023

For the first time since March 2019, Microsoft MVP’s from around the world gathered at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond for the MVP Summit. I was fortunate enough to be able to make the long journey from New Zealand to attend in-person.

This is a truly unique opportunity to meet and provide feedback directly to the product groups that build Microsoft’s applications, services, and platforms. We get to see previews of what’s coming, hear what is on the minds of the teams and give feedback. Due to the NDA I cannot tell you details, but I can say that I am both pleased and excited by what I have seen and heard.

It’s also a great opportunity to rekindle old friendships and build new ones. This started when I landed in Vancouver and met Alison Kennedy (New Zealand Data Platform MVP). On arriving at my hotel, I met Ben Thomas, Rory Braybrook, and Luke Murray, all of whom had travelled from New Zealand (Rich Burdes joined us later). Thank you to our Aussie MVP cousins, Loryan Strant, Matt Gilbertson, Brett Gilbertson, and James Turner for just being good fellas!

Arriving at Building 33 for the Keynote was a pinch me moment. Everyone was genuinely excited to be here and to see each other. There were smiles, saves, and hugs everywhere! It was a delight to sit next to Joanne Klein, who does amazing work in the compliance side of M365. I met Pam DeGraffenreid, who was given the MVP award just a few weeks ago and later catch up with everyone from Christian Buckley, Daniel Glenn, and Marc Anderson to Joy Apple (AKA JoyOfSharePoint) and Dan Rey. I shared many sessions with Leon Armstron, met Emily Mancini and talked to the amazing Tetsuya Kawahara. There are far too many names to mention everyone here, so if you are reading this and I did meet you, please know it was a pleasure!

One very memorable moment for me was meet Mark Kashman, Senior Project Manager at Microsoft. Mark is well known for the IntraZone Podcast and his perfectly timed puns. We had a great chat about writing and self-publishing books, something we have both done. He was very kind and said that enjoyed my book and that folks, is all the motivation I need to write more!

I think the session I enjoyed the most was one with Cathy Dew, Senior Product Manager for SharePoint and OneDrive, who brings her own awesome self right into the middle of the arena. Cathy is able to engage with MVP’s in a way almost no one else does. Her approach and style is distinctly her own and she knows how to push for more detail on why you think something better than anyone! I love the way she thinks!

Throughout the week I got to spend time with MVP’s from around the world. Everyone single one of this group brings something unique to the table, and diverse feedback during sessions and great conversations during the breaks and mixers. Microsoft does a great job of creating an inclusive and safe environment and result is openness and mutual trust. I’ll mention the NDA again because it creates the environment for safely sharing thoughts and feedback in both direction.

I can’t finish this post without mentioning our APAC MVP Community Manager, Elizabeth Pappalardo. It was Elizabeth’s first trip to the “Mothership” and the first time she had met many of the MVP’s she supports. Elizabeth is full of passion for the work she does and did a super job organising tours to various parts of the campus and trying her hardest to “cat herd” a bunch of jetlagged MVP’s for gatherings and photos. Well done Elizabeth!

There were many MVP’s who couldn’t make the journey. Microsoft provided an online option and it was great to see engagement from people in the room and online but it is still hard to bet the in-person experience. If you are an MVP and couldn’t make, then I have one ask, please reach out to our community manager and give feedback. Without our feedback and support, their job is more difficult. Positive and practical suggestions help. I’d love to meet you in 2024!

The MVP Summit is unique, you can’t buy a ticket, you can only get here by making a positive mark on the tech community and being recognised by your peers enough to be given the MVP Award. I am very grateful to have the opportunity. Thank you, Microsoft, for hosting us and listening to our feedback. I’m excited to hear all the announcements at Microsoft Build and from Las Vegas!

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