Microsoft Logo Cake

My first week at Microsoft

“How is Microsoft?” “It must be amazing!” “What are you working on?”

This is how the conversation goes with anyone who knows of my July 16 start date as a Microsoft employee.

If you missed my announcement (because I recorded a video instead of blogging about it), I’ve joined the Cloud Developer Advocates who report through to Azure engineering. I’m part of a new, global team focusing on IT Operations in Microsoft’s cloud. We have strong connections to our technical “IT Pro” communities, to help make Azure and its resources even better for people who are wrangling virtual machines, storage, backups, identity management etc etc.

And for my non-IT friends, “I connect the IT people who use Microsoft’s Cloud with the product team that makes that Cloud. We can feed back ideas and improvements and help our technical communities do amazing things.”

Getting Microsoft’s blue employee badge was a bucket list thing for me, but the role had to be right, Turns out they couldn’t have written this job description any better. It encompasses all of the community activities I’ve been more involved in during recent years, including having a social media presence. It’s a step away from my Office 365/productivity/modern workplace world, but a return to my server and infrastructure roots – this time with a Cloud focus. I’m thrilled to be part of a team that will help IT people around the globe tackle their Cloud challenges. And when I’m not travelling, I get to work from home!

Anyway, back to the first week stuff.

Though I’ve been self-employed for the last 14 years, I learnt IT in large organisations. I remember the structure, budgets, policies & procedures of banking, government departments and large systems integrators. My first week at Microsoft has been a gentle reminder that this is indeed a very large organisation. That scale makes policies, processes and procedures necessary. Starting work at any big company involves this onboarding period of learning the ropes – not the technical work of my role, but the “how we get things done” to meet employee expectations and corporate requirements. It’s a big learning curve.

Armed with my new laptop (15″ Surface Book i7 FTW), I’ve been exploring the internal systems and building connections with both my immediate team and the bigger Cloud Developer Advocates group. Turns out my amazing manager is Rick Claus – a fact I didn’t know when I started the interview process. I’ve met Rick in person before and know him online and I can honestly say he is the second* nicest person in tech, in the world. (Not pitching for a pay rise here). Considering we have a ton of distance and a few time zones separating us, Rick has been incredible supportive during my first week.

The “what are you working on?” is a harder question to answer right now, but for a very good reason. I’m drafting this on my QANTAS public jet as I fly to Seattle, which is the closest major airport to Microsoft’s head office in Redmond, Washington, USA. After shaking the jet lag, I’ll be meeting with my immediate team and attending an internal event. This in-person time will help us explore our big goals for the future and will set the tone with where we are best to start. With our IT Operations team being a new thing, we get to explore together what our communities need and what our organisation needs, so we don’t get distracted (as much) by all of the cool, shiny opportunities we could play with. The work is likely to involve Azure Operations content at and we also have the upcoming Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida in Sept 24-28.

As part of this trip, I’m also attending an internal Azure training event and I’m connecting with a few Microsoft contacts I already know. I’m expecting my head to be pretty full at the end of this 2.5 weeks.

So, there’s not much to reveal yet. Working remotely has been a great experience so far, with access to all the resources I need as if I was in a Microsoft office. With none of my team being in Brisbane, I truly can be a “digital nomad” and work anywhere, though I do appreciate having a local Microsoft office base when I need it. When I get back to Australia and have some more clarity about my work activities, responsibilities and goals, I’ll connect up with more of our local Brisbane/Australian/New Zealand key people both inside and outside of Microsoft, to explain how I can best help them.

In the meantime, you can always find me on Twitter @SoniaCuff or somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on a public jet.


P.S. The image on this post is the Microsoft logo cake that my 12 year old daughter baked to celebrate!

*The nicest person in the tech world is reserved for one of my early mentors, the late Steve Lamb.

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