Voices of the Azure Community- Sarah Lean, Cloud Advocate, Scotland

A warm welcome to Sarah Lean, Cloud Advocate and Founder of the Glasgow Azure User Group as she joins us for ‘Voices of the Azure Community’.

We hope you enjoy this insight into the work Sarah carries out to support the Azure Community.

Please tell us about your own role.

My role as a Cloud Advocate at Microsoft, my mission is to help empower our customers, by being a focal point for their feedback (good or bad) back to our engineering teams, helping to provide content in the form or blogs, videos, presentations etc, that will also help them use our technology.   It’s a technical role that involves a creative aspect.

Please outline your involvement with the Glasgow Azure User Group & community.

I founded the Glasgow Azure User Group in 2017, at the time I was looking to learn more about Azure and there was no user group in Scotland, the nearest was over 400 miles away which wasn’t ideal.  So, I decided to start my own group.  The group started as a coffee shop get together with about 8 people and has grown over the last three years.

We’ve had international speakers come across to speak to us and we have a “regular” core group of attendees, as well as people who attend depending on topic etc.  It’s a great wee community that help to share knowledge, spread joy and help everyone develop.

What are the greatest benefits of getting involved with the Group for attendees?

It’s the chance to meet people and learn new things.  It’s also a great platform for people who want to do public speaking to take that first step, we’re a friendly and supportive community.  I actually met someone who worked for Microsoft when I first started the group who pointed me in the direction of my first role at Microsoft, which led me to the role I am in.

What do you find to be the most exciting thing about working with Azure?

For me the exciting thing about Azure is being able to do so many things.  From running a server to running a complex retail website that can handle traffic from all over the world.

What is your favourite Azure Product and why?

My favourite product is actually Azure Migrate, which might not sound like an obvious choice, but I love the way it can help customers inventory their environment and plan the migration.  I’ve watched the product grow since it was first released, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing the product team take on feedback from customers and implement it into the product.

What does it take to become a great Azure Professional?

A thirst for knowledge.  Regardless of what role you are you are or what stage you are at in your career the hungry for learning and the ability to learn will set anyone in good stead.

What in your opinion has been the biggest advance in Azure in the past 18 months?

For me it’s the introduction of Azure Arc, allowing customers to take some of the features from Azure and apply them to their on prem environment is really powerful. It gives customers a joined up approach to management of their hybrid environment and I’m excited to see where the product team take it.

What are the biggest challenges you face working with Azure?

Keeping up to date with everything is my biggest challenge, but I think that’s everyone’s challenge to be honest.  And that’s why I love being a part of the big community there is, everyone is so willing to share their knowledge or answer questions and help each other out.

With the Covid-19 crisis, how have the Glasgow Azure Group adapted to continue to provide valuable support and connections to the Azure Community?

We usually met in person six times a year, we are due to have a meeting this month, and we are going virtual with that meetup.  We’re trying to keep the format similar to what we do in person but with more emphasis on networking and the community.  So we will have one speaker delivering a presentation and then we’ll spend time chatting, socialising with each other then we’ll have a quiz to finish off the meetup (which is what we do at every in person event as well).

We’ve had several people from outside of Glasgow, and the UK sign up to attend the meetup so hopefully we’ll have a large and varied audience.  I’m really looking forward to it and getting to still meetup with the community during the current pandemic.

Would you describe your path to becoming a Cloud Advocate with Microsoft?

I’ve worked work my way up the career ladder, so to speak in IT and arrived at the Cloud Advocate role.  I started off on a help desk after college and have worked in different roles and different industries.  Throughout my career I’ve worked within IT departments and with managed service providers.  My community work outside of work, in my spare time helped set me on the path of moving from a technical delivery role to the Advocate role.

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