As I talk to other people in the Dynamics 365 space, I am always surprised with the number of people who just “fell in” to their position (or sometimes were unwillingly pushed in). I am no exception. I thought it might be beneficial for others to know my story and see how I learned and grew into my career. Plus I only got one “Meh” vote on my twitter poll 🙂
I was always interested in technology as a young person and I spent a considerable amount of time on my computer playing games, writing newsletters, and creating menus for the restaurant I knew I would own one day (don’t ask how that is going). One of my favorite games to play was Roller Coaster Tycoon. One day while I was attempting to build the most thrilling and impressive coaster ever, I got an error saying there was not enough virtual memory. I was very confused as I did not understand how I could be out of something that didn’t really exist (virtual). I did not know how to resolve the error and my roller coaster days were over just as soon as they started.
This one experience stuck with me even into my college years. I had initially decided to pursue graphic design and the advertising field. However, I quickly realized that I did not enjoy the subjective feedback I would receive on projects I put a lot of effort into. As it turned out, I preferred my math and computer science classes with their objective logic. It was at this cross-road that I decided to change directions and point my career path towards a Computer Science degree. I thought to myself, “Maybe now I will finally learn to fix my virtual memory problem?”
My search for answers ended in my senior year of Computer Science classes when we reached a chapter on virtual memory. Years of wondering, pondering, and searching were going to be over at long last when at the end of the class, I raised my hand and asked, “I played this game when I was a kid and it stopped working because of a Virtual Memory error. What does that mean?” My professor simply said, “Oh it’s just a setting. You can change it.” There I sat, processing this disappointing answer, when my whole career path came into question. However, it was too late to change my major so a Computer Science graduate I became.
While I was not sure where I wanted to go now that my virtual memory issues had been resolved, I knew for sure I did not want to write code. I was offered a Project Manager Apprentice position where they wanted to put me on their “CRM” team. I enthusiastically replied, “that sounds great!” and then proceeded to go home and google what the term “CRM” even meant.
During my time in this position, I was introduced to CRM 4.0 and how it was being utilized by a large organization. The tool had been rolled out to one department and I would work closely with the project manager / product owner as we rolled it out to other departments. This gave me a great exposure to the full project life cycle and I also learned about Customization in CRM. I was in charge of field, form and workflow changes. As well as many of the training sessions for these new departments. All of which introduced to me so much new knowledge and skills, even public speaking.
In order to learn as much as I could in this new role, I spent much of my time on the Microsoft CustomerSource. I poured hours into watching as many training videos as I had time for and absorbed as much information as I could.
When my organization upgraded from 4.0 to CRM 2011, it was necessary to re-train all 1,500 users. Due to the significant changes, I found it was a great opportunity to get all the different departments back on the same page. In a relatively shorty amount of time, I went from not knowing anything about CRM to fully understanding the deep complexities of a large user base implementation, diverse user training, and the efforts of a massive system wide upgrade.
All this combined experience led me to being recruited to the Financial Services Firm where I currently work. I was excited as I started as the first dedicated CRM resource at the organization. The first order of business was to develop a change management strategy and document the customizations already in place. After successfully completing those goals, I eventually worked my way into a product owner role, with a small team reporting to me to handle all the support, training, and new functionality or our implementation. It all came full circle as I lead upgrades from 2011 to 2016 to Dynamics 365 (still all on-premise).
While in this role, I started going to the DC CRMUG chapter meetings. This was a great opportunity to learn and network. I started taking notes which I posted on the community. Before long, I was asked to help with the planning of the chapter and then suddenly, I was the chapter leader.
After becoming a chapter leader, I caught the community bug, and exploded on the scene with newfound energy for all things CRM. I started blogging and soon started speaking at local and national events. I have presented at Summit North America for 3 years, spoke at multiple Dynamics 365 Saturdays, and I am now coming up on my second year speaking at Focus. Not to mention presenting multiple webinars and panel sessions each year.
I tell you this story not to tell how great I am but to tell you how even someone who started their journey with a simple question of virtual memory (or even a Google search of “what is CRM?”) can become a top contributor in their field with hard work and the support of a great team like the Microsoft Dynamics 365 community. Beyond studying for certifications, I continued to learn so much through the user group events and people every week. The community continues to motivate me to learn more, to be further involved, and to inspire others to the do the same. I just fell in to the Microsoft Dynamics space and found a great, supportive community
. that I am so thankful and blessed to be a part of!
Thank you to each of you for being a part of my journey so far. So I will ask you, what is your story?