I am humbled to once again have been awarded the Microsoft MVP Award for Office Apps & Services. This makes 12 years since my first award. Beside feeling immensely grateful for the award, I often find this is a time for me to reflect on the previous years since I first got the award.
I still remember the first time I found out I was awarded. I had been working as a consultant already for about a decade and had come to realize that I really enjoyed public speaking and teaching. (Early on, I thought I would become an art history professor so I’ve always enjoyed teaching.) This was 2009 and SharePoint 2007 had taken the world by storm. (“The fastest growing server product of all time” was how I often heard Microsoft referring to SharePoint Server.) I had spent the previous 8 years implementing Microsoft Content Manager Server solutions and then SharePoint solutions. I also had recently gotten married and moved to Illinois, where I was enjoying a new-found comradery with other technophiles in the area. Additionally, I was getting connected to other SharePoint professionals throughout the country, both virtually (as the birth of blogs and the adoption of Microsoft discussion forums took off) and through in-person conferences around the country, such as the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas each year and the new concept of “SharePoint Saturdays” that took place in various cities. Many of us were in the same age bracket, so we were all enjoying the new-found community and excitement of being part of such a large product adoption around the world, while also raising our families.
Back then, many companies built completely custom .NET solutions built on top of the server product. I was a developer, so I built many custom solutions that went beyond just building one-off web parts or customized master pages and style sheets (although I did a whole lot of those too!) I had just deployed an entire RFP management system on Windows SharePoint Services for a client, and was in the middle of stabilizing a very tenuous (and error-filled) deployment when I got the e-mail. There I was, on-site at a client, and I squeezed out a few happy tears of joy and excitement. The award seemed to validate all the time I had spent writing presentations, travelling the country and doing public speaking, as well as helping me feel like maybe someone somewhere thought I knew a thing or two about what I was doing professionally. After collecting myself, I set aside the emotion and went back to work. That has often summed up my award. It feels good to get the award, but ultimately it’s (hopefully) a reflection of what I do every day (whether I get the award or not): which is to do technically competent work and to partner with others to help them succeed at work by implementing technology.
Since then, I can say I’ve seen the following:
- SharePoint Server being transitioned to SharePoint Online
- The massive adoption of Microsoft cloud technologies by small- and medium-sized businesses, rather than just by large companies (who were the majority of who was able to invest in expensive server technologies a decade ago)
- The massive adoption by Teams, which was already underway but was put into overdrive during the COVID pandemic when suddenly the entire world had to continue work while working remotely
- In my own career, I went from a decade of sub-contracting for various companies to incorporating my own business. This year is the 9th anniversary of Savvy Technical Solutions.
- I have attended more conferences than I can count, and have way too many laptop bags I will never use because we went from lugging heavy laptops around to carrying phones and tablets. After the pandemic, I suspect hybrid conferences will be the norm, and I wonder if I will ever feel the desire to visit a conference on-site again.
- I had 3 children and continue to feel blessed every day to be their mother, and I still have a wonderful husband (whew! 😊 ) who has survived living with a business owner for a wife, including all the ups and downs that it brings.
Looking forward to the future, I am excited about:
- The new intentionality I see around diversity and inclusion. I see this is in very broad terms, including all races, genders, and varying level of disabilities.
- The intentionality I see in the workplace of businesses recognizing the humanity of us all, which is summarized in the term “work/life balance”. This means allowing people to work from home if they want, or come to the office if they want; it recognizes that people might need time off to care of kids or parents or their own health, and when you let folks do this, it will make them more engaged and willing to work when the other details have been attended to.
Solidly in mid-life now, I am happy to see where technology has been and where it will take us. However, at the end of the day, I still have a desire to see technology assist people to achieve their best. It’s not about technology, it’s always about people.