For the past four years, I’ve been part of a team at Microsoft called FastTrack for Azure (FTA). FastTrack for Azure is part of Azure Engineering’s Customer Experience Team, focused on successfully on boarding customers on a project-by-project basis as they bring production workloads online.
There is never a perfect time to say goodbye, but for me - now is the time. From Monday, I’ll be taking on a new role within Microsoft as a Senior Cloud Solution Architect within Microsoft UK’s Customer Success Unit, focusing on the Manufacturing & Resources Industries. Career changes can be big moments of change, and a good opportunity to reflect.
I started off in FastTrack for Azure as employee #9, and the first employee outside of the United States. At this point, it was a startup - delivering with a subset of customers primarily based in the US, but looking to begin regional expansions and increase the scope of what it does. For me, this meant regular travel between the UK and the US for several months. Primarily to build relationships with my heavily-US focused team, but also to support the growth and evolution of the business and organisation.
Fast forward four years, and there are so many incredible moments that I look back favourably upon, to name but a few -
- Being heavily involved in the recruiting throughout the early stages of our Australian and EMEA teams
- Travelling to Sydney & Brisbane to launch the Asia region and launch FTA to partners and the Microsoft field teams, and kickstart /onboard our Australian team
- Travelling across several European countries to launch FTA across EMEA; presenting to partners and field teams across Western Europe
- Influenced and inputted into several early processes that have shaped the evolution of FTA, including customer journey, tooling and more
- Defining the strategy and approach for FastTrack’s “Architect Bar” concept at events like Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Build
- Presenting at several high-profile Microsoft events, including Microsoft Inspire, Microsoft Tech Summits and Microsoft Build
- Creating several brand new Azure Docs articles, and supporting several team members on their contributions
- Creating several modules focused on Azure Architecture ahead of the initial launch of Microsoft Learn
- Personally on boarding over 25 engineers and program managers into the team, and coaching/mentoring several others across a range of topics including technical development and career development
- Establishing the DevOps practice within FastTrack for Azure. Defining strategy for the practice, including DevOps as a cross-cutting concern (not just an app-dev concept!).Leading a global team that owned relationships with over 10 product groups, taking themes and trends from our customer engagements to drive product improvements. More recently, partnering with teams at GitHub to strengthen the Azure GitHub Actions experience by focusing on clarity within docs and creating new samples to ease the getting started experience.
- Personally worked with several Product Groups and influenced their backlog based upon trends and insights from customer engagements
- Leading a global cross-domain team focused on continual enhancement of the architectural competencies of the overall team
- Travelling across the globe to deliver Azure Kubernetes Service training to colleagues, as well as onboard new team members at FastTrack for Azure Bootcamp
- Oh, and of course - worked with hundreds of customers across even more projects over the last four years. Ranging from Lift and Shift scenarios, all the way through to modernisation of legacy systems, through to greenfield deployments and architecting brand new systems.
The point of this post isn’t some kind of humble brag, but to act as a reminder for myself and show some gratitude. Four years can feel like no time at all, but within this team has also felt like a lifetime (in a positive way). There has been so much opportunity for me to develop and grow, and I’m truly grateful for having the chance to form, be a part of, and help grow this team into the organisation that it has become.
As I said earlier, there is never a perfect time to say goodbye - but for me, now is the time. It’s time for me to take on a new challenge. I’ve been considering my career, and how I want to keep moving forwards. A few key pieces that are important to me -
- Being able to focus on deeper customer relationships. I’m a people person, so building/managing/maintaining relationships is something super important to me.
- Being able to focus deeply on the community. I’ve been podcasting for almost a year, and have of course transitioned towards blogging and vlogging over recent months. I’ve also taken on a role as co-organiser for Azure Thames Valley, and will be presenting at several meet-ups/webinars/events. In the future, I’d love to be headlining/keynote for conferences. These are some of the early steps for me along that journey!
- Being able to continue building upon the technical skills that I have been developing over recent years. I care deeply about developing/coaching others, and want to be able to do this both for customers, as well as others within my organisation.
With all these growth areas in mind, and with a year where very little has changed (thanks for that COVID-19!), it felt like the right time for me to make a change. To my immediate team, extended team, colleagues that I’ve interacted with far-and-wide across the years - Thank you. I’ve learned and grown a great deal over the last few years, and I’ve no doubt that it will continue to be a large part of me as I move forwards in the next steps of my career.
I look forward to the new challenges ahead, as well as the new and exciting opportunities that come with it!
Until the next blog post, bye for now!