A few weeks ago Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) and RDs (Regional Directors) gathered in Redmond, Kings County, Washington, 24 km east of Seattle, at the Microsoft Redmond campus for MVP Global Summit. The MVP Program, including the MVP Summit, comes with a Non-Disclosure Agreement(NDA). You will not find any product related content in this post, instead it’s for anyone who is curious about Microsoft’s headquarters, the MVP Summit as an event and what you can do more while in Seattle.
MVP Summit 2023
Microsoft invited MVPs from all around the world to the Microsoft Redmond campus for MVP Summit 2023. This year Microsoft celebrated 30 years with the MVP program. The event took place April 18-20 as a hybrid event, with participants at the Microsoft Redmond campus as well as virtually.
The food was delicious, excitement level high, learning possibilities loads and network opportunities great. The energy level went up and down. With 9 hours difference in time zones, Sweden – Seattle, the jet lag was an interesting experience, and all networking and meeting people in-person had an effect on the energy level as well. Overall – amazing tip and I got back from it with lots of new connections and knowledge about what’s next with Microsoft Business Applications.
One of the privileges of attending in-person was to be able to chitchat with whomever you ran in to. So many people I had seen online only and most of them with up-to-date social media profile pictures too (very helpful). Meeting MVPs I had only talked to online was super great. Then we have another important privilege accompanied by an in-person MVP Summit and that is to be able to connect with Microsoft Product Managers. Great opportunities to ask your questions, deliver feedback and get some insights around what’s coming.
Even though the conference days were busy days, full with exciting sessions, somehow people found time to take group pictures as well as to catch the moment and take a photo with someone you were happy to met with or a “Microsoft celebrity”.
Below is a mix of the Nordic Summit organizers, newsletter buddies (PPWeekly and PPDevWeekly), Women in BizApps, meeting Olena Grischenko, crashing Amanda Sterner’s selfie with Charles Lamanna, meeting with Product Manager Marco Rodrigues, CRMK in Seattle and an attempt to gather as many BizApps MVPs as possible on stage.
Event decorations, food and snacks
There were of course plenty of interesting sessions and possibilities to provide feedback to the product groups. But apart from that what more can be said about the event? There were general community as well as MVP decorations, such as all our names on a wall. It was a popular place to go and find your name and take photos and yes, I did lookup my name too.
The sessions and activities in between were spread over several different buildings, which created great opportunities to both see more of the campus as well as to get some fresh air and experience the typical Swedish midsummer weather (more about that later).
As for the food, a delicious breakfast including lots of fruit and berries – strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, watermelon etc., scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits were served in the beginning of each conference day. Lunch was served too and, in the afternoon, there were snacks. Not the typical Swedish fika, coffee and cinnamon bun, but chips and candy. Soft drinks, juice and barista made coffee were available throughout the day. ☕
Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of the food from the Microsoft campus and I’ll spare you from adding general food pictures from my trip. Instead, below are some random things that came home with me. Some I bought, some were swag. Among the stickers, can you spot the new Microsoft Learn logo?!
What is not shown below is the generosity of people bringing all kinds of things from their own country, such as Tim Tams from Australia (and lots of other Australian things 🥰), chocolate from the UK and more. I brought some typical Swedish candy and I have made a note to self that if there will be a next time for me I should bring more.
MVP Summit in-person vs. virtually
What were the similarities and the differences I came to think of the most when it comes to attending in-person compared to virtually? There is basically only one similarity and that is the possibility to give feedback to the product group. From a hybrid perspective it was well organized and people attending virtually was taken in consideration all the time e.g. for asking questions or delivering feedback. (That is my understanding from participating in the room at least).
As for the differences, the biggest one is the networking possibilities. Meeting in-person is not the same as meeting virtually and you have many more possibilities to have relaxed conversations, during breakfast, lunch or snacks time, when walking between sessions, during photo sessions, next to the barista, simply everywhere, compared to attending virtually and taking a coffee break in your home or office. Meeting with other MVPs from all around the world as well as the possibility to meet with product managers responsible for different product areas was amazing.
Another difference is the ability to stay focused and follow all content as the day went by with one session after another. That is quite hard with online meetings. Same with the excitement level. In-person you get a different experience I believe as you can easier see and hear the audience clap hands and see everyone’s reactions. For me, it was excising just experiencing the Microsoft Redmond campus (and downtown Seattle).
The Microsoft Redmond campus experience 😎🤓
I had heard from others that the campus is big, still the first thing I came to think of is that it is huge. Several different building over a large area and there are even Shuttle busses taking people from one building to another. I did not try them though, I do not mind to walk.
Some of the highlights at the Microsoft Redmond Campus were the Microsoft Visitor Center with the official store and the nostalgic area filled with Microsoft related bits and pieces from back in time. The Microsoft logo outside the Microsoft Visitor Center, Microsoft Reactor and the Treehouse. Who could have known there are such things as a Microsoft goose, a Microsoft mammoth and the possibility to work in the woods but still at the campus?
The Microsoft Visitor Center
We wanted to visit the official Microsoft Store one of the conference days. It is located next to the Microsoft Visitor Center, which means we got to experience that too. It was nostalgic and you could take a trip back in time to 1975 with Bill Gates and Paul Allen at the first Microsoft office inAlbuquerque, New Mexico (History of Microsoft). What a journey they took.
Other items to study spanned from artifacts found under the new Microsoft Redmond Campus (48000 year old parts from a mammoth), the red phone (backup source for emergency communication in the 80’s), the green-eyed mouse, the history of productivity tools to Microsoft Supporting Diversity and Inclusion. Below the original crew, the first business cards, a Microsoft timeline 1975 to 2022 and the celebration of the employee-led communities within Microsoft.
The Microsoft Reactor
Some activities were held at the Microsoft Reactor, which is located in one of the buildings on the campus. I went three three times during the week and could not resist taking some photos.
The Microsoft Treehouse
During the last conference day, I heard about the Microsoft Treehouse. I simply could not go back home without visiting the office spaces in the woods. Well chosen trees and well chosen time for the MVP Summit (it’s spring!). Had a lovely company too, Olena Grischenko, BizApps MVP from Australia. She was of the people I got to meet for the first time in-person. We were not alone, in the Microsoft woods lived a Microsoft Goose.
The Seattle experience 🌦☔
I got to spend some time in Seattle downtown as well before the event. Walked around for several hours, absorbing all new details, and the rain too. I saw the Pike Place Market and the Space Needle as well as lots and lots of buildings.
I come from a smaller town in Sweden. Even if I visit the capital of Sweden, the buildings cannot be compared to all the sky scrapes in Seattle. It was interesting just to walk around and look at the different buildings. One thing I would want to do if I ever go to Seattle again, is to see the city from different angles by visiting parks. Such as seeing the city from the Gas Works Park and visit the Kerry Park to see that iconic view over Seattle and capture MY OWN pictures of the Seattle skyline. I did not prioritize to visit any of those parks, but here are a few pictures from my walk.
Space Needle meets spring. The iconic place to visit when in Seattle. Then we have an interesting construction project and on the last picture the Seattle Convention Center. That is where last year’s Ignite, was held, Seattle hosts Microsoft’s first in-person event. We wrote about it on the Community Ninjas Blog last year. Amanda Sterner went there and my community friend Ronen Ariely also shared the Ignite experience from Alon Fliess’ perspective.
I watched Sleepless in Seattle on my way to Seattle. I noticed the Pike Place Market was in it. Pike Place Market is another iconic place to visit. Lots of people walking around in there, spring flowers and fresh food to buy and eat as well as lots of other things. A sea view to take in. American pancakes to eat, check on that one.
Interesting buildings from different angles.
Below are some random pictures of Spring in Seattle. A rainy spring. In Sweden we have a saying “det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder” which translates to “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”. I had bad clothes. That did not stop me from seeing Seattle though. We also have another saying, or more a word we use to describe the wether as I experiecend it in Seattle. It was a really “klassiskt midsommarväder” which translates to “classic midsummer weather”. It’s like the weather gods can’t decide if it should be rainy or sunny. On Midsummer we decide to eat our food outside because it is sunny, then it starts to rain and we need to move the table inside and then it is sunny again, you understand the concept.
What else did I do. Had American pancakes of course as already mentioned. American blueberries. Not that I had not tried that before, have it in my garden, but have to try it in America! We drove by a school in Bellevue on our way to Microsoft in Redmond. It had a yellow typical American school bus in front of it. I would have wanted to experience a typical grocery store. Just visited a (very much) smaller one and got some funny breakfast (or rather Swedish fika) cereals and typical American candy for the kids.
MVP Summit in-person was a blast. I can’t tell you any details about the knowledge I gained, but I can tell you what I believe me and my colleagues will benefit the most from. The networking part of course, but as far as the content, the biggest benefit is to be able to keep up with and maintain the best practices around working with the platform, by knowing what’s ahead of us.
That is one of the general benefits that comes with the MVP program. In turn, you take your experience and insights you have gain so far, you give your feedback to the different product groups when possible and you share your (non-NDA) knowledge with the world, your preferred way.
I hope you enjoyed this post and somewhat felt the excitement of experiencing an in-person event with many familiar faces from social media and teams meetings but now “live” for the first time, at a tech company huge campus in a new country. Long read, thanks for making it this far. Over and out!