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2017 Retrospective

Here we are! Another year is behind us and it's time again to take a look at all the exciting and interesting things that took place over the course of the year. This is my way of reviewing my progress since my last retrospect in 2016. Although I review my progress on a regular basis and realign my goals as needed, I use the end-of-year review as an opportunity to document my failures and my successes.

I've just reread my 2016 retrospective and I'm really content with what I achieved in the space of 365 days.

Blogging

Blogging is still a core part of my work and a n invaluable learning tool. I try to blog as frequently as possible though the pace of my work makes it pretty hard to find a solid 3-4hr block of time to write about all the interesting things I experience. My blog "to-do" list is growing faster than I can write them but it's better to have something in the pipeline rather than scrambling for topics.

Although the Google Analytics stats are scewed and don't give a very accurate picture, I still like to look at these stats to ensure that my blog is still relevant and usable. Green is good so I'll leave it at that. I'm happy that I'm closely edging towards the 1M pageviews but there's still a long way to go.

In 2017 I published 52 blog posts so I averaged 1 per week which is my soft target and a goal I try to stay true to. Of those 52 posts, most of them have been related to the work I've been doing with customers or new things I wanted to learn as part of my continuous development.

Travelling

2017 has been a busy year in terms of travelling. Although most of my travel was domestic with a few visits in mainland Europe, I wont lie that it's been hard for me and my family. The #LifeOfAPfe is not easy, especially if you are in the unlucky position to live away from your customers (like me). All in all, between customers, training and conferences, I was away 237 days this past year! This means a lot of flights and hotel stays. However, I'm fortunate enough to work for a great company that really takes care of its remote engineers. I got the opportunity to stay in some really nice hotels and choose the most convenient flights to ensure that my work with customers was delivered at its highest quality. The last thing you want to worry about when visiting customers is the logistics.

That's 64 return flights with BritishAirways alone while there were another 15 return flights with various other airlines like EasyJet, FlyBe etc.

In 2018, my goal is to travel less and work more from home focusing more on remote deliveries, public workshops and Intellectual Property (IP) creation in order to be closer to my family and reestablish a more predictable, healthier schedule.

Speaking

If there's one thing I truly passionate about is public speaking. At Microsoft I get the chance to do this on a daily basis. That's because every customer engagement is an opportunity to stand in front of people and practice my skills. It's undeniably a challenge with the long hours and back to back deliveries, but I do my best to be as enthusiastic and passionate about the topics I talk whether I'm on the stage or with customers.

Looking back at 2017, I've had an amazing year in terms of public speaking which includes user groups, webcasts and conferences. I submitted to many conferences but I've made a conscious decision to not submit to any non-UK conferences as I wanted to be closer to my family. I travel enough as it is for work!

In 2017, I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at 24 events. Every single event has been great and I had the privilege to talk about topics I'm really passionate about such as Serverless, Azure Functions, .NET Core etc. One of the biggest highlights of the year was my role in organising and managing the PaaS track at Microsoft's FutureDecoded event in October. On top of this, I also had to deliver 2 talks so the pressure was definitely on.

As part of my community work, I decided to ramp up things by taking over the ScottishDevelopers user group in Scotland and organise the DDD Scotland conference in 2018. This has been a massive undertaking and I had to recruit the assistance of 2 bright and passionate individuals to help me in my quest to make the Scottish Developer community bigger and better (see inclusive, diverse and fun).

For 2018, I can only say that I can't wait for what's to come! I'm speaking at TechSummit in Singapore and Birmingham, SDD and I've been invited to keynote a few events (fist time ever!) so things are improving in the direction I wanted. I've been planning this strategy for long enough and it's finally paying off. I stil have a long way ahead of me but I look forward for what the future holds.

Work/Career

I'm 21 months into my role as a Senior Premier Field Engineer (PFE) at Microsoft. This still remains, hands down, the best role I've had, despite the challenges that come with prolonged travel and extremely fast pace of training. I'm still learning in exponential rates and every day, every engagement brings a new opportunity to learn new things. Azure grows so fast and features and services are released so quickly that staying on top of things is a constant battle. But that's the fun part. If you enjoy learning and constantly evolving, then this role is ideal. I enjoy every single bit of my role and my goal is to make the best of it. Our team, PSfD(Premier Support for Developers), has grown but still remains one of the best and stronger teams I've ever worked with.

In terms of numbers, I had over 54 engagements with customers in the UK, with 90% of them delivered in person. Every single engagement (consider them like a consulting gig, but with different twists every time) has been really enlightning as I get to help customers solve some important issues and learn from what they do.

Aside from my main role as a PFE, I've also been working closely with the Azure Functions and AppService team (amongh many more, of course). This close relationship and trust has resulted in being assigned an Interim PM role to help improve the Azure Functions product and help deliver some important new features. Unfortunately, I can't reveal much at this stage but what I want to say is that there are a lot of exciting things coming in 2018. This project is really exciting from a personal perspective as I got the opportunity to get excellent mentorship and immense support by jumping on a brand new field (Product Management).

2018 is bound to be truly exciting as I'll be doing more of what I've done so far (PFE) while working closer with the Azure Functions team on some very interesting projects.

Summary

I don't plan on setting hard targets. I don't want to create New Year's resolutions. Instead, I plan to continue doing what I love and excites me while continuing to help our customers and learning new stuff. I definitely want to reduce the amount of traveling and increase the time with my family, especially as my extremely kind and supportive wife takes on a new role!

In retrospect, 2017 has been an all around challenging year with a lot of exciting opportunities and events, new friends and locations and always with a pinch of adventure while tackling the "unknown". I wish that 2018 is equally rewarding and productive and I would like to thank everyone for staying with me throughout this year! Happy New Year everone, let's make 2018 count!


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