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  • Writer's pictureDavid Gardiner

8 things to know about Microsoft MVP Summit

In March I had the privilege of travelling to Seattle and Redmond in Washington, USA to attend the Microsoft MVP Summit. Here's eight things you might like to know about Microsoft MVP Summit if you've never been before.


1. What is it?

The summit is an annual conference that is open only to Microsoft MVPs (Most Valued Professionals). The MVP award is given to people worldwide who don't work for Microsoft and who volunteer their time and energy in to the community in multiple ways. It could be contributing to open source software, answering forum questions, posting helpful blog articles, organising community-focused conferences, running or speaking at user groups and meetups, and/or other similar activities.


2. How is it run?

Microsoft run the summit as a hybrid event, so you can attend remotely (which I did the previous few years), but it isn't the same as being there in person. Especially for me given the time zone differences would otherwise mean I'd need to stay up all night. Once upon a time I could have managed that but apparently I'm not as young as I think I am :-)


3. Price

There is no cost to attend the conference, but you need to cover all travel and accommodation costs. I was really appreciative that SixPivot agreed to not only allow me the week off as 'professional development' leave, but also covered my expenses for the trip.


4. NDAs and feedback

To attend the summit, you do have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. But in doing that you're then able to get the inside scoop on what Microsoft is working on and what new things are coming. Having said that, given my area of "Developer Technologies" and the fact that a large amount of work in that space happens on GitHub, there's not as much "secret" stuff as there might be for some product groups (or may have been in the past when everything was developed internally).


It's also a two-way street. As well as the Microsoft product teams sharing what they're up to, they're also really interested in hearing questions, feedback and concerns. And just because folks attending the conference have received an MVP award from Microsoft doesn't mean they're not backward in coming forward to let Microsoft know what they think! I think that opportunity for candid conversations is really valuable for both parties.


5. How long does it go for?

The official conference runs from Tuesday to Thursday. Those days are filled with multiple sessions you can attend. Sometimes (like all good conferences) you have to make hard choices about which one you're going to pick. At least they do record all the sessions so you can go back later and watch stuff that you missed. There are also often "precon" and "postcon" optional sessions that may run on the Monday and Friday. Not a problem if you can't get to those but a nice bonus if you can.


6. The campus 🤩

The Microsoft campus at Redmond is really quite an amazing place. For those of us who have never worked in a large IT corporation it is really eye opening. Not just one building, but essentially a whole suburb of buildings, with modern facilities and nice landscaping. It's almost enough to entice you out of working from home!


7. Networking galore

The other huge aspect of attending the MVP Summit, apart from all the technical sessions, is the networking. Both with other MVPs who have gathered from around the world, but also with the Microsoft product team members. I've had the opportunity to interact with many of these people online, but there's something special about being able spend some time face to face, over a meal or a lemonade (or chocolate milk).


As an organiser of the Adelaide .NET User Group, that networking has been invaluable to making connections with potential speakers. Encouraging international folks to consider visiting Australia (and Adelaide), but if they can't make the big trip down under, then at least getting some top notch remote presenters can be awesome.


8. Worth going?

Whilst the long flights there and back are tiring, and the long days of sessions (combined with a bit of jet lag) are full on, it was a very fulfilling event and one I'm really thankful to be able to attend.



 

About me: I'm David Gardiner, Senior Developer at SixPivot as well as a Microsoft MVP. You can catch me organising community events such as the DDD Adelaide Conference and the Adelaide .NET User Group.

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