In June this year, I wrote a brief update on what I’ve been up to lately. Weeks fly by so fast, I realized it’s time to provide another brief update after almost 6 months has passed.
Hello from Haarlem
I’m attending the Office 365 & SharePoint 2019 Connect even in beautiful Haarlem, The Netherlands. I think this is the 9th year for this event, and sadly also the last time it’s being held. It’s bittersweet I won’t get to visit this charming little town next year anymore.
I presented two sessions, you can access the content through these links:
I’ve done fewer conferences and events this year, than in previous years. It’s on purpose, as I’ve tried to concentrate more on working from home and spending more time with family. Still, I love attending events and meeting fellow speakers, and the wider community.
SharePoint Saturday Helsinki
I also co-organized the latest SharePoint Saturday Helsinki a few weeks ago. This was my fourth time organizing it, and as I’ve mostly exited the SharePoint space as a professional, it was time to pass on the torch. You can read about this more here.
The new team is already busy preparing for the next chapter of SPS Helsinki!
School – it’s still positively challenging
I’m about 35% done with school. I’m attending the Executive MBA programme through Hanken & Stockholm School of Economics, and I’m scheduled to graduate in early 2021.
I’ve started to track the hours I’m spending on school. Every four weeks I attend lectures, and they are from Wednesday to Friday (9-5 pm, 9-4 pm on Fridays). It’s thus 20 hours every month. We also get pre-module assignments and post-module assignments.
Pre-assignments are usually a lot of reading. It varies, but typically it’s in the range of 50-120 pages. I’ve struggled a bit to read, as I (still) haven’t made up my mind on the type of tablet I need. My current shortlist includes the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, the new iPad Mini (2019) model, and waiting for new iPad announcements. For now, I’m reading on my laptop. Then we’ll usually write a reflection of 2-4 pages before the module – and these are then graded.
After each module, we have about three weeks to work on our post-assignments. These require us to understand what we ingested during the lectures, and produce a written reflection on a number of topics, using a number of frameworks. These are usually 8-15 pages, and take a bit more time to complete. The recommendation is to spend anywhere from 40 to 60 hours on these assignments.
My latest assignment required me to write a reflection on a business, or a business idea using a business modeling framework. I was very happy to receive high scores, 37/40 for my reflection paper.
In total, I’m spending between 10 to 30 hours each month on the assignments, and then an additional 20 hours in class. It isn’t hard to balance these, but it’s sometimes hard to get all the assignments done on time.
Upcoming events I’m excited about
There are a few major events on the horizon, that I’m helping to organize. The next one is the European SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure Conference (ESPC), which is in Prague in early December. I’m part of the programme team with Donald Hessing, Elio Struyf and Magnus Mårtensson. You can view the sessions and speakers here.
Another event, which I’m equally excited about is the European Cloudsummit, which takes place on September 28-30, 2020. This is a new event, that aims to provide deep technical breakout sessions and inspiring keynotes on cloud technologies, including Azure and AWS. I’m part of the team organizing this, and it’s masterminded by Adis Jugo. The Call for Sponsors is open, should your company need a visible spot in a major conference in Europe!
In addition to these great events, I’m part of the content team for TechDays Finland 2020, which is held March 5-6. We just opened the Call for Speakers, and you should submit now! The last day to submit is November 29th.
I will also be presenting at Microsoft Ignite in early November in Orlando. You can view my session abstracts here.
I’m also delivering the keynote for SharePoint Saturday Brussels a week from now, on Saturday 19th, together with Maarten Eekels. I need to prep on my French and Dutch quickly, I think.
Certifications, and more certifications!
I wrote extensively about how I prepare and try to pass technical Microsoft certification exams. I’ve just booked the next one, which is Exam AI-100: Designing and Implementing an Azure AI Solution. I’ve put aside a few afternoons to prep up, as I think I’m quite OK with the topics already. But it never hurts to try and study a bit more!
I haven’t figured what’s next after (or when) I pass this exam, but I’m sure Microsoft will keep us plenty busy in 2020, too!
Beyond these, I’ve kept busy with three other projects. I hope to unveil all three by Ignite timeframe, so in a little bit over a month from now. One of those projects is something I’ve worked together with a very small team for two years now, and I’m anxious to finally tell the world about it. Hopefully, that day is soon.
I announced in September, that I am departing the company I helped co-found and where I was a partner. Many people reached out to be to both congratulate, and also ask me what’s next. Interestingly, a few people congratulated me on my early retirement. This is premature, as I have no intention to retire – and those that have worked with me in the past decade know fairly well, that I tend to have high energy, and ambitions when it comes to working.
I’ve had a chance to reflect a lot during the past months on what I want to do next. I’ve asked many of my friends the same questions – what would you do for a living if you had a chance to choose anything? Responses have been interesting, and they’ve helped me scope and think more of what’s next, and what’s not. One of the things I’m sure I’ll continue doing is working in Microsoft technologies – but perhaps not 65 hours a week for the time being.
Having a somewhat luxurious position to challenge myself with a little bit lowered risk in terms of getting by, I’ve found it’s hard. On one hand, you feel gravitated to the things you’ve worked on and know so well, and on the other hand, you feel that path has been scavenged and scoured empty. For the time being, I’m attending a lot of meetings and calls (with video!), to see what type of options are now open for me. It’s still early days, and I’m not rushing the decision – so hopefully, in the coming weeks and months, I get to share a bit of news on this front, too.
And that’s all I have to say for now – it’s time to board the plane and head home!
I work with Azure and frequently write about my experiences. I’m a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, ex-MSFT. Based in Helsinki, Finland.