Introducing Laura Rogers – Microsoft Ignite Community Reporter
I’m Laura Rogers, and I love SharePoint and Office 365! I’ve been a Microsoft MVP since 2011, and have authored several books over the years.
Laura Rogers - MVP and Microsoft Ignite Community Reporter
My passion is automating business processes using forms and workflows in SharePoint and PowerApps. I’m a consultant and trainer with a technical background, and 13 years of experience in Microsoft messaging and collaboration systems. My own training company is called IW Mentor (IW = Information Worker).
Tech communities are incredibly active. What role do these communities play in your career?
Laura: It seems to me like the SharePoint community is the bloodline of everything I do. Back in the early 2000’s, as a server admin, I worked in and figured out the technologies that I used on a daily basis. But, it was a relatively lonely endeavor when it came to finding out best practices or trials and tribulations and solutions of other people in roles like mine. I feel like the SharePoint community is a group that I’ve grown to know and love over the last 9 years or so. Although some of the members come and go, we really enjoy helping each other in forums and various social media outlets like Twitter. When we meet in person at various conferences, that familiarity that we have with each other and in helping each other with technical struggles, really makes us feel like a big family. My job is all the more enjoyable when I can share something that I figured out, with this group of friends. As far as my actual career, having that personal brand and my personal blog, has definitely helped in obtaining the last couple of jobs that I’ve had, and has helped me have enough recognition to have my own successful company for the past year and a half.
How do you stay up-to-date with changing technologies and updates?
L: I have a Feedly feed of many SharePoint blogs of my friends in the community, and many official Microsoft blogs. Every day I make it a point to read at least a handful of posts and tweet them out. I use Buffer, so that even if I get swamped with work throughout the day and don’t have time to look at Twitter, at least the posts go out sporadically throughout the day. Buffer even lets you create a content inbox, to add your favorite blogs to, so that it’s very easy to read and post the ones you like.
When were you first introduced to SharePoint/Yammer/etc.? When did you realize just how powerful the tool could be?
L: When I was first introduced to SharePoint back in 2004, I loved it! I had been using MS Access for all of my business solutions. This was a perfect tool for me to be able to build business solutions without writing code. I had even tried using “Access Web Forms” (remember those?) to try and create an intranet. SharePoint was so much fun to me (and still is). Even though I was just one server admin in a very large healthcare corporation, I couldn’t wait to spread the word about SharePoint. For a few years, my avenue to the end users was in Exchange support tickets. When people would get dinged for going over their mailbox quota, and I could see that they had been sending very large files back and forth internally, or as meeting attachments, I would tell them “Let me tell you about this new SharePoint thing we have…” That’s how I got them in. Then I took it upon myself to help different small departments build little workflows to make their jobs more efficient, and I discovered that I really enjoyed automating business processes.
Could you share a little about the path you took to get to your current role?
L: As a new SharePoint admin in 2004, I was sent to SharePoint 2003 Administrator training in Minneapolis. That’s where I first met Bill English, who was my instructor, and who had already written a couple of SharePoint books. He announced to the class that a new version, SharePoint 2007, would be coming out soon, and asked if any of us were interested in writing a chapter in his new book. I figured I’d give it a go, and wrote the chapter about web parts, in the MOSS Admin Companion book (listed here). From there, I had gained some credibility, so was able to get speaking engagements. I started blogging around that time. I was in the SharePoint forums a lot and when I would see common questions and issues, I would figure out the answers and write out the instructions. All of this speaking at conferences and blogging got me recognized by Shane Young in 2009, who hired me to work at his consulting company, SharePoint911. Long story short, now I have my own training and consulting company, and absolutely love it!
What session are you most looking forward to this year?
This new way of customizing your forms and business solutions using PowerApps is a huge part of my world and daily work, and I’m super excited to learn as much as I can about these new technologies.
L: Outside of the sessions, what part of Microsoft Ignite 2017 are you most looking forward to?
The two N’s, of course! Networking and nightlife. As I mentioned before, our SharePoint community is vibrant and has many very strong personalities. I can’t wait to see my good old SharePoint friends, meet new ones, and just catch up with people on a personal level.
What are you packing for Microsoft Ignite?
L: Comfy shoes! We walk miles in a day sometimes at these big conferences. Be comfortable. I’m going to try to balance a semi-professional look, with comfortable feet. First of all, it’s going to be pretty hot in Orlando. Secondly… again… there’s a lot of walking involved. Don’t forget your business cards! And, I’m bringing my own “IW Mentor” fidget spinners, so come find me and ask for one. 😉
How do you go about building your schedule for Microsoft Ignite?
L: Here’s the best way to go about it. Go to the session scheduler, and click “Personalized Sessions”. From there, check the boxes that represent your own role. The list will then show you some suggestions. Add a few items to your schedule according to those results. Then, pick the name of your favorite product in the filter on the left. Mine is SharePoint, of course. From “all sessions”, do a search for that product. Check boxes next to everything that looks even remotely interesting, not even paying attention to dates or times yet. Then, I have another favorite product, PowerApps, so pick your second-favorite product and then check all of the boxes next to the sessions you like. THEN, go to “My Schedule”. One day at a time, find each time slot that has conflicts, and then eliminate some from there. This way, you can even leave a couple in each time slot if you need to decide later.