Introducing Cathrine Wilhelmsen – Microsoft Ignite Community Reporter
Hi! I'm Cathrine Wilhelmsen, a Microsoft Data Platform MVP from Norway. I like sci-fi, chocolate, ciders, craft beers and cat gifs - and I use way too many smileys :)
I work as a consultant, developer, and trainer, focusing on Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence projects. For the past year I have also worked as a Community Evangelist for PASS, a not-for-profit organization for data professionals. In this role, I get to help grow a global community and work with event organizers, user group leaders, and speakers to provide high-quality training at local, regional, and online events.
Outside of work I'm an active blogger, speaker, organizer, and chronic volunteer. Once in a while, I turn off my computer to go hiking, exploring mountains and waterfalls, and travel to new places :)
Tech communities are incredibly active. What role do these communities play in your career?
Cathrine: Tech communities actually changed my career - and my life! A few years ago, I was extremely shy and introverted. During my first technical conference, PASS Summit 2013, I met a lot of amazing people who welcomed me into the SQL Server community and encouraged me to get involved. I got so inspired that by the end of the week I was committed to go back home to Norway and give back to my local community. Within a year, I had helped revive my local user group, organized Norway's first free 1-day SQLSaturday conference and become a speaker. Fast forward a few years, and I'm now an MVP, traveling the world speaking at events, and even reporting from Microsoft Ignite! Getting involved helped advance my career, I have a global network of friends and colleagues I can reach out to at any time, I'm learning something new every day, and I'm definitely no longer that shy and socially awkward girl.
How has IT changed since you first started your career?
Cathrine: Since I started my career, there has been a huge shift from on-premises solutions to hybrid and cloud solutions, as well as more and more projects being open sourced. It has been an exciting journey to work with Microsoft technologies and seeing how the company has not only transformed themselves, but has also helped shaped the industry, becoming a leader in driving changes.
Where do you go to learn new skills or stay in front of the trends?
Cathrine: I'm lucky that the Microsoft Data Platform and SQL Server community is so focused on sharing knowledge and helping each other. By reading blogs, attending free webinars and speaking at free conferences like SQLSaturdays, I learn something new every day. As an MVP, I'm also extremely thankful for the opportunity to work directly with the Microsoft product teams, providing feedback and getting the latest news on what's coming up next.
What advice would you give to a first-time Microsoft Ignite attendee?
Cathrine: Wear comfortable shoes and clothes! Also remember to bring a warm sweater or jacket with you, even if it's nice and warm outside. You'll be walking a lot and it can get quite cold sitting still in the air conditioning. Always have business cards handy, and try to write a little note on each business card you receive to help you remember who you met and how you want to follow up with them later. Talk to other attendees, speakers, and sponsors - sometimes those hallway sessions can be extremely valuable!
Outside of the sessions, what part of Microsoft Ignite 2017 are you most looking forward to?
Cathrine: I'm looking forward to catching up with friends and making new friends. I spend a lot of time in the Microsoft Data Platform community, so I love being at Microsoft Ignite where I get to meet people from other communities and learn about what they're doing! I also have to mention the Microsoft Ignite Celebration. I absolutely love roller coasters and I'm super excited about getting to visit the Universal theme parks! :D
How do you go about building your schedule for Microsoft Ignite?
Cathrine: I start by adding all the sessions I'm interested in. I first filter the sessions by product. Then I search for specific keywords that interest me. Finally, I look through the speakers list and see if I want to listen to a specific speaker, even if I know nothing of the topic. By this point, I'm usually triple or even quadruple booked for each time slot! Then comes the difficult part of picking which session to attend. I usually wait until right before the session to make a decision. Sometimes it's based on what I'm most interested in right then, other times it's purely based on where I am in the convention center and which room I have time to walk to.