It’s Microsoft Inspire awards season and I’m delighted to see UK Microsoft partners well and truly represented amongst the winners. Seeing the celebratory posts prompted me to think about the partners I worked with during my 10 years at Microsoft – many of which were spent as a Partner Account Manager.

I’ve written and spoken about my time working at ‘The Mothership’ but haven’t said much about the partner community. Something I now intend to fix because it’s thanks to them that I:

A: Learned what’s really involved in running a business – something that stood me in great stead for setting up on my own.

B: Made sure that I didn’t get too corporate to be employable anywhere else.

C: Made enough money that when I decided it was time to leave, I was financially secure enough to do so. My very best years were spent as a PAM for the LAR community – all hail EA agreements!.

So, in no particular order, here’s some Microsoft partners I’d like to thank:

Bytes Software Services

Do you know how much I loved you? If the Venga Bus was designed solely to transport one Microsoft partner around, it was you. Nobody partied like you did, nobody made me laugh as much as you. On more than one occasion, nobody booked more revenue than you. You probably paid for my kitchen. You definitely paid my kids’ nursery fees.

Teksys

My very first partner and no longer in existence (these two things are NOT related) so instead I will say enormous thanks to Shaun Frohlich for his guidance, encouragement, wise words and referrals.

SCC

Now I think you know that I loved you. Still do. People didn’t want to be your PAM, they said it was “too hard” but that was because they didn’t know what to do with a privately owned organisation chock full of personalities who saw no reason to do what a 25 year old in a nice suit told them that the corporate scorecard said they should do. We got along famously. You did a Google deal that led to a meeting with the UK GM of Microsoft that I will never forget. It kind of went along the lines of “HOW THE **** DID THIS HAPPEN?! WHO LET THIS HAPPEN?!” You invited me to present to your board, you gave me amazing opportunities and one person in particular helped me challenge some misconceptions I had about what it takes to be successful in the business world. Cheers John 🙂

Computacenter

Who’s bright idea was it to give me both SCC and Computacenter to manage at the same time? It took a while to build trust and I was never going to fit with your enterprise sales team but working with the SBU was a fantastic experience as was getting involved in exec briefings between our two organisations – I became fantastically adept at getting to know the executive assistants and writing 8 page briefing documents. We went through the launch of Windows 7 together and the horror of trying to explain to sales people who were used to winning huge deals that, really, what they wanted to be selling was BPOS.

Softcat

I never got to be your PAM…but I wanted to (we all did). Not least when there was an emphasis on booking mid-market revenue 😀

One of the best things about building a career outside of Microsoft is that I have worked with, and still get to work with, with some excellent Microsoft partners and associated businesses. These include Sol-Tec, LeadaMarket, Tech Data, Incredible Results, Coeo, Mimecast, ResourceiT and NAK Consulting. Working with them outside of the corporate walls, but with the benefit of years of tech industry knowledge, has been a new, rewarding experience in itself.

So if you’re going to Microsoft Inspire this year, enjoy the keynotes – sorry, “corenotes”…whose terrible idea was that? Enjoy the networking, the 101’s, the deep dives, the entertainment, the whole spectacle of being in an enormous venue with tens of thousands of people.

Enjoy the competitiveness of the country lounges and trying to out-do the Netherlands when it comes to team spirit (you won’t, they’ll send three thousand people in orange t-shirts who will all sit together at every given opportunity, wins every time). Enjoy the soul-crushing, head-swimming hangovers that are not fixed by free coffee and bran muffins. Enjoy shopping on a work trip. Enjoy getting to know the Microsoft team and the chance to have a beer with someone who ordinarily you’d superglue into their car to stop them getting to a customer before you. Enjoy the knowledge that outside of some of the things you’ll hear that make you want to be a little bit sick in your mouth, you are a community that is really, truly valued by an enormous number of people. Me included.

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