Voices of Azure- Hugo Barona, Ireland

A warm welcome to Hugo Barona; MCT, the driving force behind Cloud Lunch and Learn, and co organiser of the Azure Dublin Meet Up as he joins us for ‘Voices of the Azure Community’.

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

Please tell us about your own role and how your career has progressed to this point.

I am an independent contractor and Cloud solutions architect, helping clients in designing, building, and implementing solutions on the Cloud to achieve the expected business results. As a side job, I am a Pluralsight author, focused on creating courses, related to Microsoft and Open Source technologies, and help the community to learn more about these technologies and how to use them to achieve the expected outcomes. In my free time, I try to be involved in the community, providing contributions, and helping to build ways to enable the community to collaborate, connect, and learn together.

As one of the organisers of the Azure Dublin Meet Up, would you tell us how you became involved? Could you outline what this work entails and how you have seen the Dublin Azure community grow over the years?

My work in the local community groups started a few years ago when I was invited by one of my friends, Marko Soldo, to be part of the organization of the .Net Mafia, C# Mobsters and other Microsoft family. I always enjoyed speaking in-person in tech events, so it was an easy way for me to connect with other people and learn more about them and the industry. Last year I joined the Azure Dublin Meetup team, and we started to build ways to engage with the group and provide virtual sessions to allow the members to continue the learning journey, besides the pandemic crisis that we are facing. I saw an opportunity to connect the Azure Dublin Meetup group with the Cloud Lunch and Learn group and establish collaboration between these groups.

You are also part of the Team behind ‘Cloud Lunch & Learn’, please tell us about this initiative and the upcoming sessions on the schedule. What do you hope ‘Cloud Lunch & Learn’ will add to the Azure community?

During my professional career, I have been working with some companies with great cultures and using the Lunch and Learn initiative to allow their employees to enjoy their lunch and learn together. And I quickly noticed that many people in the tech industry enjoys having their break or lunch and learn. So, I started the Cloud Lunch and Learn, with the massive help of Juarez Junior, the Azure Developer Relations Lead at Microsoft. We started to define the path to make this initiative become a reality and help the community to learn while they enjoy their lunch or break. I also have to say that I am fortunate to be able to build a great team with skillful people that have been working hard on this initiative to ensure its success. It has been a delightful journey, working with all these people and seeing the results and gratitude coming from the community members following us. The Cloud Lunch and Learn is a complement to the other existing community initiatives, and our main goal is to provide a different way to enable the community to learn and grow

Our congratulations on your recent Microsoft Certified Trainer Award. Would you provide an overview of your journey to receiving this Award?

Since a few years ago, I have been investing some time in delivering training. I started to deliver training in some of the companies I worked with, and then I joined the Pluralsight team and became a Pluralsight author. I felt that I enjoy delivering training and help other people on their learning path, so I just continued the journey of delivering in-person and online training, and this year I was awarded as Microsoft Certified Trainer. I have to say it was something I was not expecting at all, and I am grateful to receive this award. I always believe that when we do what we love to do, and we commit to what we are doing, the rest of the things happen naturally, but the most prestigious award we can get is being happy in what we are doing.

With such a varied workload could you describe what your working week entails?

I have to say that apart from technology, another area of my interest and specialization in Management. I had the opportunity to do my Masters degree in Management, and I have to say that one of the skills we learn to develop in management is time management. And honestly, I think we all are managers in our own lives since we need to learn how to manage our money, our schedule, our tasks, time, and more. So, I quickly realized that most of the time, we spend much time with things that we do not need or want. One of the examples is social networks since it is a fact that it consumes much time for the majority of the people’s day because we start to engage with the different social channels, and quickly we lose the notion of time. To summarize all this story, I have been working to minimize the waste of time during my free time, and do what I need or want to do, including working on these community initiatives and groups.

Would you outline what you find to be the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of your role?

I would say one of the big challenges I faced was the fact of moving to a different country (Ireland), with a different language (English) than my native language (Portuguese), and engage in communications with my team in the different projects I was working. But again, it has been a continuous journey for me to improve my skills in the English language, and try to do my best every day. Another big challenge was the differences in the companies’ culture and work processes. So, I quickly noticed that working in Ireland is not the same as working in Portugal, so I had to adapt to the company’s culture and learn the different work processes. The biggest reward I can highlight was the fact that I was able to start alone this journey of moving to work abroad, come out from the comfort zone, and work towards my dreams, and fortunately, I have been able to do it, so far.

To date what has been your proudest accomplishment?

I think we all should be proud of every accomplishment that we have in our lives, independently if it is small or big accomplishments. When I started to work in IT, I had a great manager and leader, Paulo Benjamim, that taught me that the process of solving a given problem might be more or less complicated, depending on the way we approach and solve it. And many times, he used to say: “The best way to eat an elephant in your path is to cut him up into little pieces.”. And I believe we can apply the same concept for accomplishments, given that significant accomplishments are composed of various small accomplishments. So, if we focus on each small accomplishment, without losing the vision of the big picture, we can accomplish more and faster. So, that’s what I try to use to my life, go step by step and focus on small accomplishments, so then the significant accomplishments come naturally. With all of that, I may say that one of my biggest accomplishments was the fact of coming from one of the worst high schools in my home country, and starting a journey on one of the best universities in Europe, and feeling a huge difference in terms of background and education, and thinking that it would be an impossible mission to get my degree in Computer Science. And after a huge commitment, working and studying at the same time, I got my degree and realized that sometimes the blocks and impossibilities are only in our minds, and we need to believe more in ourselves and what we can do and achieve.

Have you had or do you have a mentor?

In IT, I would say that I have been inspired and receiving help from many people, including my friends, work colleagues, and the tech community. In terms of mentors, I have to say that I have two of the best mentors in the world, and those are my parents. They teach me everything I needed to be able to work hard in life and towards my dreams. Without them, none of these would be possible.

In your opinion what is the most exciting thing about working with Azure?

I believe Azure can help in many ways, the people using it, and depending on their roles and expectations. In my experience, Azure allows me to avoid the complexity and the need to manage the underlying infrastructure, and save the time and efforts of repetitive and time-consuming tasks, to focus on the solutions and business logic to help the clients achieve their business requirements and results. With this, I have to say that my personal and team’s productivity increased a lot, and helped us to focus more on the business and increase the results by leveraging Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) on Azure.

What is your favorite Azure Product and why?

So far, I enjoy building event-driven architectures on Azure, by leveraging products such as Azure Logic Apps, Azure Functions, Azure Event Grid, Azure Storage Accounts, Azure API Management, and more. With these services, we can build near realtime applications, using asynchronous communications, using the resources in a Pay-as-you-Go model, and consequently minimizing costs while maximizing results, performance and availability.

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

The Platform as a Service (PaaS) services, the Azure Serverless services, and the Pay-as-you-Go pricing model are great advantages available on Azure since it allows anyone, including personal projects, SMEs, to build their applications in the Cloud, with small costs and get all the required benefits for their applications, such as performance, availability, resiliency, security and more. And most of these benefits are built-in in those services, so clients do not need to have the skillset and knowledge in their teams to achieve them.

Could you describe what the unique spirit of the Microsoft Community means to you?

The spirit of the Microsoft Community, for me, is all about connecting and meeting other people in the industry, work, and learn together to help get our achievements and dreams, and enjoy all the journey by doing what we like to do.

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