One afternoon in Winter 2019/2020, I had a long conversation with somebody from Microsoft’s Azure Security Center product team. We chatted about current features, features to come (or not to come), customers’ needs, basically, the (NDA) stuff I’ve been enjoying as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for all the years. Being a Microsoft MVP means a very lot to me. Once you receive this extraordinary award for the first time, and you sign your first non-disclosure agreement (NDA), it feels like a new world just opens up in front of you. For those of you who have watched “The Matrix”, it’s like you just decided to take the red pill and are immediately introduced to a whole different world. In the MVP community, you will find countless different personas, but for me, the main benefits of being an MVP in no particular order are:
- Access to NDA roadmap information for your respective area
- The possibility to directly engage with product group members and, thus, influence future product developments
- Invitation to the annual Global MVP Summit in Bellevue and Redmond
- Possibility to apply for speaker slots at main Microsoft conferences
- Meeting so many extraordinary people, some of which I call friends, today
Due to COVID-19, there unfortunately could not be an onsite MVP Summit in 2020, and according to what we know today, there probably won’t be one in 2021, neither (however, there are plans for a digital-first Global MVP Summit 2021). But in the years before, the Global MVP Summit was one of the most important onsite events in my annual schedule. It definitely is a privilege to be able to meet so many awesome people from all over the world, to establish relationships and friendships. At the Global MVP Summit, those people come together from all over the world to spend a whole week with each other which makes the event maybe the event of the year for most of them. Every year, July, 1st is the renewal date for existing MVPs, whereas new awardees are presented with the award every month. This year, the upcoming renewal date is different for me because I already know that I won’t receive the award for another period…
The decision I made…
In March 2018, I joined Devoteam Alegri as a Lead, later Principal Consultant focused on cloud infrastructure and security – and I enjoyed my role until the end! It was a deep technical role which also gave me all the freedom I needed to support technical communities in the world. Being an MVP, working for Devoteam Alegri, I basically had all opportunities I could dream of. I remember my first day, when all the new hires met in Munich for the Coming-In Day, the company’s kick-off event from which I travelled directly to Frankfurt airport just to catch my flight to Seattle for 2018s Global MVP Summit. Or the possibility to speak at Microsoft Ignite 2018 in Orlando, where I had two talks about Azure Security Center and Azure Governance. I was encouraged to further run the local Azure community in my home town and to continue organising the Azure Saturday community conferences, together with my friends Max and Ben, who, at this time, both were working for Devoteam Alegri, too. But I also could influence our customers’ cloud security strategies when I was an Azure and security advisor for one of our military customers, or when I helped a manufacturing customer to protect their hybrid identities against remote attacks. Taking the pink pill for Devoteam Alegri was the perfect decision for me.
… was to finally take the blue pill
But then there was this chat last Winter. In the last few years, I’ve often been asked if I would not be interested in applying for a job as a Cloud Solutions Architect at Microsoft in Germany. I have also been offered different other roles, but my answer usually was “Well, not really”. My role at Devoteam Alegri was such a good fit for me that I just was not interested in changing anything. It was a role in which I could challenge myself every day, and in which I could influence both, the company’s and customers’ strategies. I always thought, that if there would be a role at Microsoft to arouse my interest, that would have to be a role in which I can still work closely with the product teams and the community. Maybe a Cloud Advocate role focused on security. A role which did not exist, or, at least, which was not vacant or which I was not aware of. Well, until January…
During the conversation I’ve mentioned above, I was told that Microsoft was looking for a Program Manager to join the Azure Security Center Customer Experience Engineering (CxE) team. A role, in which you are sitting between customers and developers. A role in which you go to conferences to talk about Microsoft’s security products. A role in which you help customers understand Microsoft’s security strategy and in which you can influence further product developments by taking customers’ needs directly to the product engineering teams. There it was: the role that caught my eye!
Knowing that Microsoft FTEs cannot be Microsoft MVPs, I balanced pros and cons, but finally, I decided to give it try, created a profile and applied on careers.microsoft.com. I knew that PM roles at Microsoft are very sought after in general, and, therefore, I could be sure that quite a bunch of great applications had been received. But I had nothing to lose, and so I decided to start the process. I was invited to five interviews and, in the end, I got an email from the recruiter in charge, in which she told me that I was successful with my application and all interviews, and that I had been selected for this role. I can’t describe how I felt when I read those lines, but be sure that I was more than overwhelmed!
So, I already know that I will not receive another MVP award in July, because I decided to take the blue pill (as we are saying in the MVP community) and to join Microsoft as a Senior Program Manager in the C+AI Security Division on June, 1st!
My new role will focus on Azure Security Center and it is aimed to primarily helping customers onboard and deploy ASC. But it’s also part of the role to go to and speak at conferences. With that said, I will still be able to meet and chat with the community at the same sort of events, and I will also still be able to engage with the MVP family, at least when it comes to user group events, or conferences. However, I will definitely miss the opportunity to join another future Global MVP Summit and I will also miss my peers at Devoteam Alegri. But for now, I’ll enjoy two weeks off with my family and then, I’m looking forward to what’s next to come…!
Wish me luck and see you around, soon!
Stay safe, take care and cheers,