Thoughts on my first 4 months in Azure Engineering

It's been a roller coaster of a calendar year 2016, and similar for FY16 and FY17.

In late 2016, I moved from handling the Pre-Sales business for Microsoft Singapore for Public Cloud (Azure), Hybrid Cloud (CPS, Windows Server + System Center, OMS), all of which which runs into the double digit million dollars, to moving to the Azure PG in Redmond as a Program Manager where my team and I are responsible for Compliance Engineering for Azure and all of our services that run on the platform.

My first 4 months have been so filled with learning that it has been nothing short of exciting. It has been a rewarding 7 years with Microsoft across 3 primary work location countries in 3 continents, in 3 distinct businesses (Consulting, Sales & Pre-Sales, and now Engineering) and having been able to travel to and work in almost 18 countries to date! This journey has been nothing short of fulfilling and I continue to learn and evolve both personally and professionally.

  • My first learning in my new role in Azure Engineering, is that the age old statement 'The Grass is always greener on the other side' is not always true 🙂 Go figure!

Leading the Pre-Sales business, I've witnessed first hand how sales people are prone to making promises that sometimes cannot be fulfilled just to close a deal, and then suddenly that becomes an issue that Engineering has to take up to solve. This is by far the most incorrect approach to ever try to close a deal.

  • Engineering is not here to save individual people when they're in trouble due to a promise they made to close a sale. We're here to ship products, their features and security & compliance, all the while having to balance the requirements that are common across a very large subset of customers, versus doing a trade off for a feature or requirement that probably only a handful of customers may ever use.
  • This is a good learning to keep in mind always: What is a 'good to have 'versus a 'nice to have' requirement across your global customer base.
  • As a sales person, if you feel that suddenly forking over stuff to Engineering results in Magic happening to solve problems, you've been watching too much TV. The difference here between reality and fiction, is that fiction has to make sense
  • Network, network, network! Don't get complacent that you have achieved one role, so you are set. Go out of your way and network with people with whom you've maybe just exchanged emails before, and get their perspective on what it takes to succeed in a role that you are new to. Network outside your company/ employment sphere. Go to Meetup's, User Groups, etc., and network with people from the industry. This will broaden your horizon and knowledge in magnitudes thereof.
  • Get at a minimum 2 mentors. Heck, get 3! The Italian's have a joke that the world is so hard a man must have two fathers to look after him, and that's why they have godfathers. One of these mentors should ideally be your Godfather when it comes to advice related to the professional sphere, and if you develop a good friendly relationship, personal too.
  • Have a 30/60/90 day plan when you are transitioning to a new role, and sync on it with your immediate manager, and your mentors on reaching the 30/60/90 day timeline. Treat this as a milestone, not just another checkbox to cross off.
  • There are no stupid questions. My team's motto is 'We are used to stupid questions'.
  • Bring your Sales, or Consulting experience to the table in Engineering, but don't make decisions or base opinions purely on that experience., It's a new world for you to explore. Listen first and always, learn, ask questions, get help, evolve before you make a statement.
  • Think before you act. Think before you speak. Think 9 times before you hit the SEND button on that email (A cat is supposed to have 9 lives, so hypothesizing this, also another reason why I always UNCHECK the 'SEND IMMIDIATELY WHEN CONNECTED' checkbox for email 🙂 )
  • Be a sponge and soak up as much information as you can. Always be in learning mode aside from shipping your products/ feature and delivering on your KPI's.
  • Feedback is key. Take it constructively and act decisively on that feedback. It does one a wealth of good.
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