How I Grew My Career in 2017

Senior Member

This time of the year, just after welcoming 2018, it seems last year went by so very fast. I always love reminiscing a little bit. Partly because I feel so many things are otherwise forgotten, and partly because each year seems to have been the best year so far.


January 2017 – and everything changed

I’ve worked in IT almost all my life – 28 years and counting. Each year I try to learn more complex and technically challenging areas – I crave the feeling of not knowing something that I think I should know, while at the same time withstanding the uncertainty of not knowing enough of a subject.


I started January this year with the usual expectations: growing the company I co-founded in 2009 to be larger, more agile and more adept to face stiffening competition. By chance we had lunch with a competitor of ours (“how come we never do lunch?”, someone asked on the street). This lunch turned into a meeting, which turned into a planning session and after months of negotiation, discussion and planning we ended up merging the two companies.


So this colored my year for most of the months, in a positive way. I’ve been a part of mergers, acquisitions and chapter 11’s before but never in such a vested and detailed way. One of my primary goals was to ensure we all land in a way that keeps employees, owners and stakeholders satisfied. The second goal was to ensure I get to grow professionally, both business wise and technically.


It’s still too early to say but having worked together in the merged company with new colleagues for months now, I can say it was one of the best decisions I’ve done in a decade. The other one was to incorporate my own company after leaving Microsoft in 2009.


Forging new friendships

One thing I’ve actively done over the years is travel. Especially business travel for conferences, events, SharePoint Saturdays, Azure-meetups and what have you. I’ve lost count how many I do each year – it’s plenty, but not too much. One of the aspects of travel and events is that you get to meet people. Lots and lots of people. And I love meeting people! There’s always a history, a story and something to learn from interesting people you meet on your journey. This year was no exception.


Someone gave me a hand-written (remember those?) card at an event, that said he is happy to gotten to know me during this year. It warmed my heart as I’m always delighted to get to know people beyond the façade of presentations and breakout sessions.


What’s been a major revelation to me, especially this year, is that when you meet people you know and call friends, it’s not about technology anymore. Rarely do we talk about deep technical things. We talk about our families, hobbies, experiences and obstacles we’ve faced. There’s the mandatory technical talk also, but after the conferences during speaker dinners and drinks, it isn’t about who knows the most about this or that. That’s when I know we’ve forged a friendship that lasts, even if I don’t get to meet the amazing people every month or even every quarter of the year.


Lifelong dream achieved

Ever since Microsoft introduced the Regional Directors program way back in 1993, when I was running my first company and busier than ever, I’ve kept an eye out for it. I became a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional in 2014, as part of having worked with Office 365 and SharePoint for a long time and building communities around these technologies. For me, becoming a MVP was something that came as a surprise for me and each year after that I’ve done my very best to maintain the status. The RD program, however, is so very different. It’s about technology vision, cross-platform expertise, community leadership and business results. All these I’ve worked with quite a bit but never in a cohesive way.


I already knew a few RD’s (see: Forging new friendships above!) but once I received word that I had been nominated – and eventually selected – to become an RD was both a lifelong dream achieved and a big surprise for me. It’s important to understand it’s not about the titles or certifications. It’s about people – the communities, people around the world and insights from customers. As such, I feel both becoming a MVP and RD has given me more understanding on what challenges and problems companies and communities face, and how to best help them tackle those challenges.


Hello, 2018

It’s hard to top 2017 in 2018. I essentially grew my career both personally and technically in ways I couldn’t imagine when planning for 2017 exactly one year ago. As I’m now diving deep into planning for 2018 I feel it can – and will – be even better.


I hope to meet many of you reading this in 2018, either in any major Microsoft events or virtually in these forums!


How do you revisit your career goals each year, and how do you stay on track? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 

2 Replies

Hey Jussi,


it was definitely a pleasure to meet you at the speakers dinner of the European Collab Summit in Zagreb and discussing Garmin fenix watches :) . From that evening I can definitely understand your feelings about the community.


Thanks for your writeup, positive thoughts for the start of the year!


Great read Jussi! We appreciate you sharing your story and thanks for all of your contributions as an MVP (and RD).