On August 1, 2017, Microsoft announced that Centare’s very own David Pine joined the elite ranks of their MVP program.
David has been in software and technology for over seven years. He got his start by working with Microsoft WinForms - desktop software development - and eventually moved to WebForms. All the while, he had been following Microsoft’s view of how to develop applications. After joining Centare in July of 2014, he started to learn more about how deep these technologies had become. He has quickly risen as one of the thought leaders at Centare within the Microsoft technology stack and often blogs and speaks about his discoveries.
I had an opportunity to have a chat with David about his experience through the MVP selection process.
How did you learn about the Microsoft MVP program?
I’ve always been trying to actively involve myself in the developer community and I started realizing that people giving presentations would introduce themselves as a “Microsoft MVP.” I thought to myself, “What is that? What does that even mean? How do you get that?” So, I started looking into it and realized there’s a ton of work to even been considered for it let alone nominated or awarded. Everything from blogging, to mentoring, to open source contributions, to moderating forums like Stack Overflow, and of course, public speaking. Having seen the level of people that were MVP’s, it was just something I decided to go for.
What did you have to do outside of your normal job to be considered for this recognition from Microsoft?
I have been actively pursuing this now, for roughly two years and where it started for me was I wrote a blog post back in January of 2016. That blog post kind of took off. There was literally like over 100,000 views and it was really a success. Being able to write a tutorial article like that - where people could actively want to share it was really gratifying. It made me feel like I was actually having a positive impact on the community. From that point on, I was like...it’s on! I want to blog. I want to do all the different things I could do to give back to the community that would help to attribute to potentially becoming an MVP. I had mentioned blogs, mentoring, forum moderating, and public speaking. The last two years has been an awful lot of “do all that I can do.”
How long did the process take from setting the initial goal to achieving the award?
Originally, the cadence of MVP was an annual thing. So, every year, Microsoft’s internal committee that selects MVP’s would sit down and look at all the previous year nominations and individual contributions. Then they would decide who was going to be an MVP. January 2017 was my first full year of notable contributions and that’s when I was really hoping that all the things I did from 2016 to 2017 would be enough. But it was not. And I was really, really disheartened. I was frustrated and sad. I felt insignificant. I felt like all the things I did weren’t really being appreciated. And that was really the wrong attitude to have. Because, it is really about just giving back to the community - that’s what made me happy initially anyways. The recognition for that will come with time. So, I just continued doing that.
Since then, Microsoft has changed to where now it’s a monthly cadence. So, rather than having this huge process and a huge list of MVP’s, it’s every month they sit down and review from the end of that month to the previous year-worth of contributions and then, people get awarded for a full year.
Yesterday, (August 1, 2017) I got my congratulations email. I was actually very surprised, since I just added a community activity - my “Perusing C# 7.1” blog post - to update my nomination. I went into my email to verify that Microsoft received the update. When I hit refresh, that confirmation came down...and then also a “Congratulations, you’ve been awarded.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God!’
Did your managers and/or peers at Centare help you along the way?
Yeah! Specifically, Tim Dransfield and Centare as a whole. I’ve put some thought into this, it’s really like Centare is an enabler. Enabling me to go forth and do all these things. And, they’re encouraging, and they provide a comfortable culture that I can fit into easily. Centare is a part of the developer community so it is easy for me to be too. So, it’s really just a great venture, wholeheartedly.
With Tim, he kind of pushed me into public speaking. It was one of those things where he saw this potential in me that I didn’t see in myself. And, in all honesty, public speaking was my biggest fear. I cannot begin to explain the fear I had for it! Getting up in front of a crowd of 100 people and being able to show them code and things I’m passionate about, I realized it’s exciting. Like, at first there’s nerves, but once I’m up there, it’s so cool to have people engage and want to come and ask questions, or follow me on Twitter, or even create a pull-request on my GitHub repos. I feel valued.
I just can’t envision myself doing this at any other company.
Did someone in the developer community nominate you or did you nominate yourself?
The way it works is you can nominate yourself, and/or others in the community can also nominate you. So, for the year 2016 to 2017, I had received seven nominations from current standing MVP’s in addition to a slew of other people that were not MVP holders. But I also had a self nomination with my all of my activities.
What do you have to do to maintain this level of relationship with Microsoft?
The way the MVP program works is that they look at your previous year contributions, and if you’re awarded, you’re awarded for the following full year. Once that expires, if I haven’t done enough and I wasn’t awarded again, I’ll fall off the radar. Some MVP’s actually got together and they formulated a Slack channel, there’s Yammer, there’s all this insider stuff where they’re working towards helping MVP’s keep their status. There’s special Microsoft invites to [submit to events]. So, it will help you get into more places. Some of the MVP’s created a web tool that allows you to more easily submit your community activity.
What advice do you have for others that may be seeking this recognition?
It’s a lot of work. Just, don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. And, realize that, while Microsoft might not recognize you right now for that contribution, the community does. And, that’s really what’s important.
What other certifications or awards do you have in your sights next?
First of all, I’d like to maintain my MVP status. Beyond that, my next thing that I’m trying to get into is I’m trying to become an ASP.NET Insider. There’s only about 250 ASP.NET Insiders, worldwide. It’s even more exclusive than the 3,500 MVP’s globally. If I can get into that, I feel like being an MVP and becoming an ASP.NET Insider would be a blessing. It’d be amazing! A lot of the ASP.NET Insiders are MVP’s. To become an ASP.NET Insider, you have to be nominated from the people that are currently ASP.NET Insiders. It is a lifelong thing too, it never expires. These are people who are technical evangelists, developer advocates, people who are developer community driven, and all the things I’m passionate about. The true elite of the world in ASP.NET and web technologies.
We at Centare are very proud of David’s accomplishment.