[The series index can be found here.]
The welcome banner goes up at MVP summit!
“Remember this is NDA, no talking about it, posting on the internet, tweeting or sharing in any way” – That message I think is the MVP Summit slogan because it was told to attendees so many times, and for good reason. MVP Summit, for those who do not know, is an invite only conference which Microsoft runs yearly at their head office in Redmond, Washington (near Seattle). The conference attendees are made up of Microsoft staff, MVP awardees, and regional directors which means that the depth of knowledge is massive. I was comparing it to TechEd, except every session is interactive and starts at least at level 300 (Advanced) and most of the audience has the knowledge that they could present it too. I cannot go into the details of the sessions because of the NDA’s but what I can say is that all the sessions were direct, open and honest communication between MVP’s and the product teams.
This is what a session looks like at MVP summit. Plenty of MVP’s in front and product team towards the back.
Stepping back for a second let me explain how I got there: Travelling with fellow MVP’s (and co-workers, yip BB&D has 3 MVP’s) Rudi Grobler and Zayd Kara we left Johannesburg to go to Atlanta (15 hours) and what should’ve been a 1 hour stop in Atlanta – which turned into 5 hours, thanks to Zayd’s bag losing it’s boarding pass meaning we missed the flight (admittedly it would’ve been a heroic run to catch it, but that sealed it). Unfortunately Rudi couldn’t get a seat on the next flight and he ended up in Atlanta for 8 hours! We (me and Zayd) touched down in Seattle very late, raced to the hotel and then raced to our first dinner.
Why are South Africans always the last people at the pub?
Summit would be tiring enough between jet lag, getting up early to eat, catch the shuttle to Microsoft campus, spend your day trying to have your brain not explode and catching the shuttles back – but being the limited time there meant using evenings too for special dinners. So I had dinners with MEA MVP’s, product teams, and general all the MVP’s where plenty of networking and side discussions happen.
Ruari, our fearless MVP lead, giving me the evil eye for disturbing his pool skills (which still didn’t help us win) at one of the dinners.
What I take away from MVP Summit is two fold
- Relationships – meeting people you know by email, meeting new people and catching up with old friends.
- Guidance – A lot of content is focused on the why rather than the how, this means that I better understand Microsoft and that helps me put myself in a better position at work and in the community.
It really is in the interest of companies to send their employee’s who are MVP’s to the summit (put in conditions to safe guard them from leaving if you are worried about that), because what they bring back, even if they can’t tell you, will help you in the long run.