I will be moving on from my role as Office 365 Education Deployment Specialist some time in December 2013 to become a Windows Technical Solutions Specialist (TSS).
167 weeks ago I began a journey which, at the time, I thought would only last a few months. I joined Microsoft in the UK as a contractor Live@edu Deployment Specialist and my job was to help customers across the UK roll out this thing nicknamed “the cloud”. In the three years since September 2010, as a team, we have been phenomenally successful and it has been one of the most insightful, inspiring and ultimately satisfying experiences I’ve ever had. There are now over 110 million people using Office 365 Education around the world!
— Microsoft Education (@Microsoft_EDU) October 16, 2013
Of course, we wouldn’t have been as successful as we have without the unwavering support of our customers and partners – thank you to everyone I’ve worked with, it has been an absolute pleasure. I look forward to watching the success continue into the future.
Still, for me it’s time to move onto a new challenge in deploying a different technology: Windows 8.1.
Since I was eight years old
I realise that working at Microsoft is, amongst other things, a huge privilege that not everyone gets to experience. For me it is also a huge personal achievement because, although I have been contracting, I have wanted to work at Microsoft for a very, very long time (since I was eight years old, according to my mum!). It will sound ridiculous to most, but driving past the huge sign at the entrance to the campus at Thames Valley Park gives me just as big smile today as it did the very first time I went past.
Getting to work with schools, colleges, universities and governments on new “cloud based” technology has been incredibly rewarding. It’s also given me some fantastic experiences, such as exhibiting and presenting at the BETT show in London, travelling to Microsoft’s Redmond campus in Washington for the Global Education Partner Summit, travelling the length and breadth of the UK, meeting foreign ministers, and even being quoted in the tech press (oops! Still, Mary J Foley saw my post, that’s pretty cool).
And now for something completely different
You can’t do the same thing forever these days, no matter how much you love it; so, as much as I love what I do now it is time for something completely different. My TSS role will still be focused on public sector, and maybe even education within that, so I’m not totally disappearing but rather than focusing on the cloud I’ll be all about Windows and devices.
When I started I was introduced to people as “Ben 2.0” after my predecessor. It seemed easier, that way people didn’t need to understand what I did – I just did what he did. Ben left some pretty big shoes to fill, and I’d like to think that I have done just that (hopefully more!).
The hunt for my successor is now in full swing. Maybe they’ll get introduced to people as James 2.0. I’d like to think that they’ll be even more awesome.
If you’re interested, tweet me.
Sometimes I go to events and find myself struggling to stay awake. I’m one of life’s incurable omphaloskeptics*. Whether it’s thinking about dinner, replaying a song in my head over and over, or looking around the room for something to inspect, I find myself getting distracted. Perhaps I have too much brain? Occasionally, I have an inspirational experience that’s so engaging and interesting that I can hardly blink, let alone fall asleep. TEDx Oxbridge back in June this year was one of those occasions.
What is TEDx? In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.
Throughout the day, themed “Timeless Ideas”, we were treated to some fascinating talks, and finally they’re up on YouTube. Below are three of my favourites, but I’ve put all the ones I can find together in a handy playlist.
Policing with Compassion
Policing has become a conveyor belt of criminal apprehension feeding the criminal justice system so that statistics for arrest and prosecution remain high. It is time for policing to return to Peel’s original vision of policing and for police to deter crime and disorder while maintaining community relations.
Lessons from Ancient Social Media
Most people assume that today’s social-media environment is unprecedented. But the idea of social media actually has deep historical roots, extending back to Roman times. It turns out that many of the questions prompted by social media in the 21st century have arisen before, which means that history can provide valuable lessons for us today.
It’s Not About “Working the Room”
So, when the word ‘networking’ is mentioned what images and emotions does that conjure up for you? Terror, excitement, fear, fun, extra work, OMG!! Maybe all of these. The most frequently asked questions Heather hears are “How do I work the room?” quickly followed by “So how do you break into a group?” She’ll provide some simple, but effective tips to meet new people here today.
Sign me up for 2014
I’d never been to a TEDx event before, and while the event isn’t free to attend, and if you’re not a student you will end up paying full price, it is well worth it. Lunch was included, the venue was very easy to find (right across the road from Oxford train station) and there was free WiFi. It’s safe to say that if the line-up at the next event is as inspirational and thought-provoking as this year, I’ll be first in line for my place.
*I cannot believe there’s actually a word for someone who “contemplates their navel”.