Hi I’m Jen Stirrup! I'm originally from Scotland but I now live in London. Microsoft Ignite is my favourite conference and it is definitely worth the trip from the UK!
I am the resident Data Whisperer for a boutique data science, artificial intelligence and business intelligence consultancy that I founded. I am proud to be connected with Microsoft Ignite and I find that Ignite is the place to be when I'm designing 360 degree solutions for my customers. I love connecting with all of the Microsoft team members and I get my own questions answered, as well as delivering my sessions as a speaker. As a consultant, I can take my customers' questions to Ignite and I can always find someone to help. Additionally, I like to take my Azure architecture designs and speak directly to Microsoft team members so they let me know if my designs are future-proof, and it allows me the freedom to discuss all the Azure options to deliver a successful business solution for my customers.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting their career in IT, what would you tell them?
Keep learning. I have 20 years’ experience in industry and I still haven't decided what I want to do when I grow up yet! The industry is changing so fast that new opportunities and learning new technologies is a way of life.
How do you stay up to date with changing technologies and updates?
I watch Channel 9 videos from all of the conferences; Microsoft Ignite, Inspire and Build. My customers also keep asking great questions and their needs evolve, so I need to keep up with changing technologies and updates. It's not that hard, really; just keep reading the Microsoft blogs. The Microsoft updates are very customer-centric and driven by customer needs, so I usually find that the monthly update cadence has a new nugget that will keep my customers happy.
How has IT changed since you first started your career?
More business-focused and less coding.
What advice would you give to a first-time Microsoft Ignite attendee?
Wear comfortable shoes!
Bring business cards and write on the back so say how you met the person. I hate finding a bunch of cards and I really don't remember connecting or meeting the individual. It can happen at large events, because you interact with so many people. So as soon as you can, jot the details on the back of the card. You could also take a snap of the business card, and write ‘Microsoft Ignite’, and jot down a couple of words about the individual. Even something like 'I met this lady at lunch on Wednesday and we talked about diversity' is a real memory-jogger. I try to connect with people on LinkedIn and it means I can write a quick note about how I met them in the Notes facility. Very handy!
Keep drinking water and stay hydrated. I like to bring small snacks such as rice cakes, just in case I get snacky. Since I'm travelling across timezones, I find it very useful to go to the hotel gym or go out for a jog. If you are physically tired, you will sleep better, and it helps set you up. It means I'm less likely to have my brain waking me up at 3am!
What are you packing for Microsoft Ignite?
I use packing cubes to pack, so I can squeeze plenty of things in my case.
I don't like purchasing plastic products and I don't like using hotel toiletries since I believe it's bad for the environment. Everything just gets thrown away and it feels like such a waste. So I will be taking solid shampoo and conditioner bars, and solid deodorant. You can find these for sale on many websites.
I will also be taking my trusty Traveler's Notebook. It's a refillable notebook, and I have an insert for business cards and a plastic envelope for storing receipts. I don't go anywhere without it.
Why should people follow you for Microsoft Ignite coverage?
I'll be focusing in Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Business Intelligence. These are areas that I love, and I will be picking out the most important, must-know info for you and your organization or your customers. Microsoft have got plenty to offer in these domains so I will be tirelessly reporting on these.