inside insync , Microsoft MVP , MVP award , | 2020/11/06 at 9:32am

Becoming a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) – Michael Zanatta

We are pleased to announce that our Senior Consultant, Michael Zanatta, has been presented with a 2020-21 Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for the award category Cloud and Datacenter Management. Michael will join colleagues Megan Strant and Loryan Strant who currently hold an MVP award in the Office Apps & Services category.

The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award is given by Microsoft to community-focused technology experts who have been recognised and nominated in their area of expertise. We caught up with Michael to gain a bit more insight into his journey and receiving the MVP award.

Tell us a bit about how your journey, how you got here?

Actually, it all started because of a virus which infected on my dad’s computer. Ironically, the virus was called Windows 95 CIH. Of all the viruses to put on my parent’s computer, that one was probably the worst. Back in those days, motherboards only had one BIOS (Basic Input Output System) and didn’t have any recovery features. So when the virus reached the predetermined time, it would attempt to overwrite the BIOS chip on the motherboard, effectively killing the motherboard. So not a good start, but an interesting start to say the least!

After that, I got into computing (Grade 9). My dad worked in IT, so he introduced me to IT by teaching my DOS 4.6, and then I was batch scripting. Soon after that, I learned VBScript and VB.NET. Since I was learning to code while I was attending school (back in the days of Windows XP), a lot of my personal projects were pranks that I deployed at school. For instance, I wrote a Remote Control Application (Task Control, Computer Control) and messaging chat script similar to MSN Messenger. Much fun!

So, what is your area of expertise?

My area of specialty is Powershell. I’m a Powershell Subject Matter Expert. That’s really my area specialty, but really like what I do, obviously from day-to-day is more IT Process Automation/ Integration and WinOps/DevOps.

That is interesting, and with the MVP award could you tell me like a little bit how it works. Did someone nominate you for it? Or was it something that you went after yourself?

It’s a nomination by peers/others – It has to be done by either an existing MVP or a Microsoft employee. I was nominated by a Microsoft employee who was a former MVP.

What does the MVP award mean to you? What sort of benefits does it have for you?

There are many benefits that the award gives, but for me, I think it’s good to be recognised for the community involvement. It’s always nice to have someone say, ‘Hey, thanks for the input, it helped me with such and such’ Having that recognition is really good.”

MVP’s have access to a lot of NDA content from Microsoft that I can’t talk about. But there are other things like you can get a Visual Studio Enterprise subscription, which is fantastic for me as a coder.

You also get Azure credits so you can run services in Azure, but there’s a lot of little benefits with (MVP status) as well.

Outside of Microsoft third-party companies also come to the plate so they have their own MVP program so you can go to them and get additional valuable software from them as well. That’s handy to help you develop your journey.

Do you have a favourite platform you post on or a particular article that you have contributed to?

I think the two major articles/passion projects are the PowerShell Conference Books, Volume 2, and Volume 3. Working on the book is a full-time job outside of work for about four months.

Volume 2 is a bit of an interesting story. Initially, I was a contributor, I wrote a chapter for the book, and then I jumped on board as unofficial editor. The book is about 600 pages, so it’s not a light read! While it’s a ‘conference in a book’, you are reading a series of lectures/ deep-dive topics. It also serves as a textbook resource.

Now I’m working on Volume 4 which is exciting, and I’m taking ownership of the project as editor-in-chief. It’s a really exciting challenge.

I am also working on a PowerShell Module which allows new MVP nominees to automate their submissions, saving a considerable amount of time.

I also spend time talking to students, teaching them some PowerShell to get them to automate their labs a bit easier, and demonstrate how cool PowerShell is. During those talks, I also do a non-nonsense open IT AMA session where students can ask questions about IT.

Do you have any tips for anyone else – who is striving for an MVP award?

I think if you want to get an MVP award, the first thing you need to think about is why do you want to do it.

The best piece of advice I could probably say is if you’re in the right mindset, then everything else will come along. Be good at what you do, and love helping others. I think those are really the two key it that you could probably take away. And be prepared to get your hands dirty and spend a lot of time going the extra mile.

For me, I am committed to upskilling the Reddit community and realigning them back with the PowerShell community. It’s really really tough; you have your good days and bad days.

Is there anything else you would like to mention in regards to the MVP award?

Don Jones, wrote a book called “Be the Master”. Don uses the analogy of the apprentice and the master and how the apprentice learns from the master. The difference between the master and the apprentice is that the master teaches. So when a person has the skills and proficiency, they can start going a mentoring someone else. This reinforces what you have learned and forces you to learn something new. Having that mindset and being around those people is fantastic. I would also like to point out that we should always be putting on the apprentice hat and learning new things. When you have mastered something, learn something else.