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Ryan Storgaard, Director of Technical Evangelism, Microsoft Canada

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Ryan Storgaard.

Ryan StorgaardPresented by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Ryan Storgaard is a recipient of the prestigious Microsoft Chairman's Award. Ryan is a dynamic leader fuelled by optimism for the future and passionate about enabling others to achieve their goals and ambitions.

As Director of Technical Evangelism at Microsoft Canada, Ryan leads an amazing team of individuals focused on driving satisfaction and adoption of Microsoft technologies. From students and start-ups, to hobbyist developers and IT generalists, to Professional Developers, ITPros and Managers, his team is focused on driving awareness, engagement, adoption, and satisfaction of Microsoft platforms and solutions. Thus millions of Canadians are impacted through diverse engagements across social media and online communities, associations and user groups, and key conferences and events. His team of Developer and ITPro advisors is Microsoft Canada's ambassadors to the ICT community; connecting, listening, supporting and enabling the technical professional and industry.

A firm believer in embracing and driving positive change rather than being negatively impacted by it, Ryan's previous national roles at Microsoft Canada include creating and leading national and competitive strategies. As Director of Cloud Services Strategy, Ryan reported directly to Eric Gales, President of Microsoft Canada, and the Canadian Leadership Team as the company worked on incubating, developing, enhancing and releasing several strategic Cloud Services such as: Office 365, live@edu, Bing search, Windows Azure and Windows Live.

Prior to his current role, Ryan was Director of Platform Strategy at Microsoft Canada where he led another exceptional team that worked with the top Canadian brands, websites and software companies in Canada across Windows Phone, Windows 7, Internet Explorer 9 and Windows Azure. He also spent several amazing years leading Microsoft Canada's technical evangelism efforts with software companies from start-ups, to large enterprise systems, to competitive recruitment receiving the prestigious Microsoft Circle of Excellence award.

Ryan has a strong background in systems engineering, programming and professional training. Before joining Microsoft, Ryan owned his own consulting company and worked as a Microsoft Certified Trainer and Linux Professional Instructor teaching various courses in Novell, Cisco and internet security.

On both a personal and professional level, Ryan believes in "following your bliss". For Ryan, that means: being excited about the future and playing a positive role in shaping it, meeting passionate and positive people who challenge and inspire you, always seeking adventure and new experiences, and always progressing through ongoing learning, sharing, reflection, development and growth. Ryan feels incredibly fortunate that his current and past roles are "I absolutely love what I do!" type of jobs.

On a personal level, he continues to be inspired by his family and friends. Ryan is happiest traveling with his wife and son or balancing the solitude of nature with some adrenaline pumping action with a smile from ear to ear while mountain biking, snowboarding, or rock climbing!

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:44: Ryan, can you profile your extensive history prior to your current role and some valuable lessons you wish to share from these roles?
"....Running my own business, the lessons - find where I could add value....being agile, always learning, always adapting....being strategic about what I chose to do....At Microsoft as Platform Strategy Manager, the lesson - the amazing opportunities, innovations and ideas that are all around us....As director of Cloud Services Strategy, the lesson - being a change enabler...."

:06:10: Taking all these different pieces and components of your background and taking it to your current role, can you profile your current role and what you hope to achieve?
"....Director of Technical Evangelism at Microsoft Canada....I get an opportunity to lead a very passionate group of individuals with a mission on driving satisfaction and adoption of Microsoft platform and technologies....Making sure we are driving value so that people will create applications for these great platforms and at the same time, doing that from the perspective of enabling others to be successful...."

:08:58: You talked about satisfaction adoption, how do you measure satisfaction?
"....A lot of it at a high and more of a scalable level is we'll do surveys that will go out to developers and IT professionals a global survey that is driven around the world. On top of that we are looking for all the events, training, webcasts that we do and even down to the blogging and tweeting....So there's measurement from the high-level broad survey all the way down to the individual or team level, based on everything that we're doing...."

:12:17: What computing professional market segments are you supporting and why are they important?
"....From a community perspective we want to make sure that we have relevant content and doing relevant events and we're giving great feedback back to the product teams....From a future perspective students and start-ups is a big area that we focus on....Another key audience is IT managers and developer managers....Ecosystem is another good way to think about it. At the highest level I like to think of it as PC, browser, phone and cloud....My team in particular is really focused on those ecosystems but as we look at each one of those areas we're tying that back to what we think about what that means to your average developer or hobbyist developer, ITPro, generalist or a student or a start-up. We see our value is that we can help contextualize this for them...."

:16:31: You talked about community and the ecosystem so what value are you and your team delivering to each of the market segments? How will you know that you have succeeded?
"....The value that we are trying to bring is enabling others to be successful with Microsoft products and technologies....In my mind it kind of comes back to satisfaction and you can measure that through surveys, ongoing feedback (actively seeking out that feedback)...."

:19:57: Can you get more specific about the role social media plays, the kinds of social media and how you are discovering the power of it?
"....I very much look at social media as Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging; there's a bunch of those that are so core to where people are going to interact with colleagues, to learn more and grow from a skills perspective....It's definitely a way to achieve much more scale. I come back to what I said earlier about engagement....It's a way to reach out to new audiences and have different types of interactions and get way more broader exposure from an ideas perspective....It's a great way to build a following....I see tons of opportunities and lots to learn as we look at better ways to get that feedback and engagement to reach a broader audience...."

:24:06: In your current role, what are your top ways of measuring success?
"....Satisfaction with Microsoft....How are we doing on an adoption perspective, how many apps do we have in the marketplace, how do developers feel about these platforms and are they excited about them, do they see a lot of opportunity? Another one is at a team level so we also have measurement and surveys on my team's satisfaction with Microsoft....Market share is another one....Another one I would think of as future....Are we engaging and doing activities that really are going to set our communities and Microsoft Canada in particular up for success...."

:26:53: In your current role, what are your top challenges and top opportunities?
"....I like to think of challenges as opportunities....I think the top 3 challenges are: scale, how do we drive support and engagement as broad as possible, and balance....From an opportunities perspective (this year in particular), this is probably the most incredible product line-up I've ever seen at Microsoft....We have an incredible array of products and technologies and there is nothing but opportunities there....The second one is what my team is doing around social media and balancing online and offline. I see there are way more opportunities....Another big opportunity that I'm really excited about over the next year is we're making a big change with Tech Days in terms that we're not going to just use that as a point in time (like an event), but we'll continue to publish content to the Tech Days website so people can get value there ...."

:33:36: What are your current projects and what lesson can you share from some of these key projects?
"....Embracing online to reach as many Canadians as possible....The lesson - embrace online with the idea that it is ongoing. From my team's perspective, we need to have a diverse strategy across a number of channels on how we engage with our audience....Championing HTML 5 and the lesson is - don't go it alone...."

:38:45: What specific technologies should business and IT executives be embracing today and in two years, five years?
"....The first one absolutely is cloud....The second one is HTML 5....The last one is critical especially related to the last two and that's management (systems management)...."

:43:27: What are your top leadership tips?
"....Ask the questions, listen....Shoot for success....Look for everyone (starting with me) to love their job - that makes the rest of what you're trying to accomplish easier....Related to that is having a bigger sense of purpose...."

:47:39: Please make predictions (perhaps broader in scope) for the future, their implications, and how we can best prepare?
"....I talked a little bit about cloud and mobility the future is now and their future is absolutely going to explode....The other one that people are seeing is the consumerization of IT....Another theme on the consumerization of IT is the blurring of work and home and friends and ready to embrace that social media aspect and be prepared for it....The last one when we talked about social media....owing and controlling your online brand and identity....take an active role in that...."

:52:06: If you were conducting this interview, what 3 questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?
"....What are you most excited about?....What worries you the most?....What do you look forward to?...."