On Thursday, while I was flying back from Prague to home, from the last session that I have delivered in this decade, I couldn’t help thinking how much the things have changed in this past ten years in my life. Spence was nudging me to comment about some of the newest Collabsummit session submissions that he was going through during the flight, but – admittedly so – my attention has been somewhere else.
Exactly 3523 days have passed between the first session that I have delivered in this decade at Microsoft WinDays in Croatia, and the last session yesterday at ESPC, in Prague, Czechia. In these 10 years, I was speaking at 137 conferences, on three continents, delivering in total around 250 sessions. At the beginning of the decade, I was awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP award), at the end of the decade I was awarded Microsoft Regional Director award. Both those Microsoft awards mean a lot to me in terms of recognition of the time and work I have been investing in the past ten years.
At the beginning of the decade, I left the company I cofounded, to which I still feel attached to, and in which I spent a decade prior to it – daenet. It fills me with pride when I see that they are thriving and doing very well, ten years later. That the foundation we have laid at the day one was rock solid. It was not an easy decision for me to make that move then, but it felt right, and in retrospective it was a right thing to do. In the past ten years, I was leading projects for some of the largest European and world companies, I was the lead architect for the projects in two of big four accounting companies, for the largest telecommunication operator in Europe, helped to deliver an intranet for one of the largest semiconductor companies in the world… this list could go on and on.
Towards the end of the decade, I have accepted an offer from two people who are more than friends to me – Frane and Toni – and joined SysKit as a Chief Strategy Officer, where I am blessed to work in a group of extremely talented young people, helping to deliver the ultimate governance solution for the Microsoft 365 platform. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have never experienced such a passion, love and energy that SysKit invests into its products. When you walk into SysKit’s offices in Zagreb, you will see Toni’s famous “There is no time for bad software” slogan printed on the wall, and the company is truly living it. You will be hearing much more from us in the years to come.
At the beginning of the decade, Toni, Nenad and me have started SharePoint and Project Conference Adriatics (SPC Adriatics), an annual conference focused – well – on SharePoint and Project – Microsoft’s products that we knew something about. It was a one-day event with 150 people, held in Zagreb, Croatia, in legendary Hotel Aristos. Our slogan for that conference was “Probably the best SharePoint Conference in the world”, which we chose more in a funny manner, inspired by a certain beer commercial.
As always in life, we tried to remain faithful to the slogans we choose. At the end of the decade, the European Collaboration Summit, the conference that SPC Adriatics became, is the leading Microsoft 365 conference in the world. It is, with well over 2100 attendees, by far the largest conference in our industry in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world. But that doesn’t actually matter – our goal, as a community-initiated event, is to be inclusive, to be kind, and to be welcoming for everyone. We value the same way the big corporate customers (thank you for coming – you are the foundation of our industry!) and students who cannot afford two thousand Dollar or Euro tickets (thank you for coming – you are our future!). Inclusion starts with wealth – we feel that we could not call ourselves inclusive, or truly European, if we in the start exclude people based on their buying power.
We are very well aware of our position, but also of our obligations. We are – and we will be – helping smaller community events all over Europe, in organizational way, through marketing activities, and financially – they are our family. The last year, we had dear friends from Thrive Conference in Slovenia, Office 365 Connect Netherlands, and ESPC with us in Wiesbaden, even during the closing ceremony on our stage. We see it as our mission, but also as our duty as the leading and the largest conference in our industry in Europe, to be inclusive and helpful for other community and for-profit events. We will continue doing that, because we are one community, and only as such we are relevant and strong.
On the personal note, I cannot stress enough how blessed I am to be working with Elena, Margit, Martina, Anita, Spence, Toni, Nenad, Fitz, Vesa, Matthias, Aleks and all the other people who are involved in the conference organization, some of them on day-to-day basis, and some as members of the content team, or on specific tasks. Those are the people that fill me with energy and motivate me every single day. They are the people who are making it all possible. We have six different languages as our mother-tongs within this team, but we understand each other without words. We don’t speak about our diversity – we are living it. And I couldn’t be prouder than I am, to lead such an extraordinary team.
This decade is winding up. I have a few more days of work, and then a longer break. I will be using this time to recuperate, and to make some decisions and plans for the next decade.
We have big goals with SysKit. Nothing less than creating the best and the ultimate governance tool for Microsoft 365, the only one customers will ever need.
European Collaboration Summit is partnering with Microsoft Teams group in Redmond, and becoming their strong partner in Europe. We could not be more excited about everything that this partnership is going to bring to our attendees – incredible things will happen in June 2020 in Wiesbaden, Germany.
Alongside the European Collaboration Summit, we are starting a new conference, European Cloud Summit, which will focus solely on Azure technologies. We have set up the best possible team for that conference as well – beside Elena, Margit, Spence and me, that conference will be delivered by Damir (Azure MVP, RD – my former business partner from daenet, and a person whom I blindly trust and often consult about various things), Jussi (Azure MVP, RD – my dear crazy and trusted Finnish friend, who often functions as my feedback pillow, and with whom I can have long focused and productive conversations), Mustafa (Azure MVP, my lovely, crazy and insanely intelligent Bosnian friend, who is a win for every possible team) and Jessica (Senior Cloud Advocate for Microsoft, former MVP, whose task will be to bring some sanity into our work 😊).
Here is to the next decade.