Voices of Azure – Isidora Katanić, Switzerland

A warm welcome to Isidora Katanić; member of the management team at make it noble, organiser of Experts Live Conferences and co founder of ‘Head in the Cloud, Heart in the Community’ video series as she joins us for ‘Voices of the Azure Community’.

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

Please tell us about your own role with make it noble

First, I would like to say thank you very much for this interview. I’m part of the Management Team at make it noble, which is a company based in Switzerland offering customers a variety of services within Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365. Our team is a group of tech enthusiasts active in the Microsoft community, through our day-to-day work with customers as well as other community activities including blogging and speaking engagements around the world. Recently make it noble achieved its 5th Microsoft Gold competency and I’m very proud to be part of this exciting journey from the very beginning. My responsibilities within the company are varied from our marketing, community and conference activities as well being an active member on the Management Team running other operational activities in the company.

You organise the Experts Live Conferences, how did this come about?

Before I joined the Experts Live team, I worked for an ISV in the Netherlands. That is where I got introduced to the Experts Live family and have attended several of the conferences in USA and Europe as an attendee or sponsor. Being very active in the Microsoft community, I have always loved the community feeling at Experts Live and knew the founders and organizers for many years. When I moved from the Netherlands to Switzerland in 2017, I joined forces with Microsoft Azure MVP Marcel Zehner, hosting Experts Live Switzerland and Experts Live Europe together. This was a dream come true, now I’m in the driver’s seat and can fully co-organize the conference from A-to-Z in both Switzerland as well as the European edition. I love bringing people together and to create a fun, tech, geeky, inspiring and inclusive environment where we can learn, connect and share knowledge with each other. My motto is to combine learning with fun, and conferences in general are a great platform for that!

In addition, you have just launched a new video series ‘Head in the Cloud, Heart in the Community’ with your co-host Holly Lehman, can you tell us a little about this and what you have in store for this new series?

We have just launched our first episode, with Samuel Erskine, Microsoft MVP and Head of Cloud Engagement at Deloitte. Sam is a wonderful friend and great inspiration as well as our motivator to do the community activities we are doing. Head in the Cloud, Heart in the Community started with a joint mission Holly Lehman (Microsoft, USA) and I share, to shine a light on the amazing positive work our community members have been doing. We speak to people from all corners of the world about current topics, lifestyle and community. We already have our next 4 episodes confirmed with….I just can’t reveal that yet 😊 So make sure you follow Head in the Cloud, Heart in the Community, where you can enjoy our upcoming episodes and fun conversations with our community members.

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

My work week is both very structured and chaotic at the same time. I jump between several roles and projects throughout the day which always keep me busy. I’m juggling between make it noble (management team), Experts Live Europe (co-organizer), Experts Live Switzerland (co-organizer), districtUP (co-founder) and ongoing community activities like Head in the Cloud, Heart in the Community (co-host), my blog and other community activities and engagements. What I love, is that all these activities blend in together and relate to each other. When I’m networking with someone or have a work meeting, I always try to discover how we can help each other and cooperate through any of the roles I’m involved in.

You will often find me at Microsoft and community conferences where I’m attending, sometimes speaking, working, organizing, or helping out the organizing team with their event. However, at this moment, almost all conferences are hosted online which completely changes the way my work week looks like. Where before I would be traveling abroad to events, I’m now involved in mostly online engagements from home. Thankfully, there is a positive side, this gave me some fantastic opportunities like being the co-hostess of the official Global Azure featured track 2020 and the co-hostess of the Women in Tech Virtual Conference amongst other great community initiatives including The Azure Poem. With my colleagues at make it noble, we also hosted online sessions to keep sharing content with the community.

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

What I find most challenging, is to prioritize between my roles and responsibilities because I tend to believe that everything is top priority. To bring up the current situation, I find it challenging to deal with “the virtual events” as I’m really missing the people. I’m a “people-person” and I really love to give and get energy from the community. Being an extrovert, out and about meeting people and reconnecting at conferences has always given me joy in my work. I truly thank many people in the community I have met along the way, who play a significant role in my work and private life. It’s a challenge for many of us in this current pandemic, but I’m happy that also through the virtual world the community has proven to be a true family.

And to touch on what I find the most rewarding aspects of my role; I will focus on my role as a conference organizer. I’m passionate about bringing people together at our events and I really love all aspects of organizing conferences. No detail goes by without putting a lot of passion into it. The most rewarding moment after months of preparation is seeing the puzzle pieces finally fall into their place. It’s very rewarding to see happy faces and to receive positive feedback, as well as feedback on aspects for improvement which give me motivation to learn, grow and get better for the future.

You have recently been awarded with the #AzureHeroes badge in the category of Inclusive Leadership and have been named the 1st Cloud Community Champion. Can you tell us about each award and what they mean to you?

 I’m thrilled to have received these recognitions! The #AzureHeroes badge in the category of Inclusive Leadership arrived in my inbox while I was volunteering in Vietnam. I was teaching at an orphanage for children with disabilities, so receiving this badge for Inclusive Leadership at that particular time really meant a lot to me. Of course, the badge mainly focuses on my conference activities in the Microsoft community but in every scenario in work and private life I find inclusion a very important topic. Receiving this badge, feels as a recognition as well as motivation for my future activities.

Next to the official Microsoft #AzureHeroes program, I’m very excited about the Cloud Community Champion award. This is a fully community-driven initiative and I’m truly honoured that others in the community have given me this recognition.

To date what has been your proudest accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment to date has been my volunteering journey I mentioned above. At the start of 2020 I took one month off from work to go volunteering in Indonesia and in Vietnam. This is something I have always wanted to do in my life and this year I finally found the courage to do so. I spent a full month entirely dedicated to children who live in poverty. I was teaching English lessons, Computer classes, encouraging and motivating kids and sharing my personal experiences and lessons learned in work and private life.

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

Forme it has been very exciting that Microsoft launched the Swiss datacenters a year ago, Switzerland North and Switzerland West. This of course is fantastic news for our customers, and also gave me the opportunity to host a video interview with the CTO (at that time) of Microsoft Switzerland. In the interview we spoke about the launch of the Azure datacenters, its data residency, security, compliance and resiliency. Microsoft Azure today has more global regions than any other cloud provider, and with the pace Azure is growing it’s never a dull moment for me to closely work with the Azure community.

Have you had or do you have a mentor?

I don’t have one particular person as a mentor, but I do feel like certain people around me are like mentors to me. These are friends, family, my older sister, my colleagues and members from the Microsoft community. I can also really count on my boyfriend, who’s a top expert in Azure and so knowledgeable about the community and basically anything Microsoft tech, that I love to pick his brain sometimes (and vice versa 😉)

There are so many inspiring people in this community and I’m very grateful to learn from them every day.

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

The unique spirit of the Microsoft Community means a lot to me. At each and every activity I do I always have the community in mind. To me, it feels like an extended huge global family. What I love about this community, is that we are connected in many ways by helping, supporting and uplifting each other. Whether if it’s in-person conferences or in the virtual world, via Twitter or any other ways, I feel the community is always there 24/7. All the energy I receive from the community, I’m happy to give back and to stay involved in different community activities. I’m a strong believer of #CommunityRocks and #CommunityPower. With that, I would like to thank you and everyone at the European Cloud Conference for this interview for the ‘Voices of Azure!’

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