So with everything currently going on in the world, I thought its time for a positive post after some reflection. For me, the vExpert program is probably one of the best things to ever happen to me personally and for my career. Many people think this is a certification program and it’s not… In my opinion, it’s a mindset! Plus you also get to evangelise about a product you love to use. The best thing about the entire ‘group’ if you want to class it as that is that we are all people wanting to provide back to the #vCommunity and better each and everyone in the process. The best things are the opportunities including trying something new, personal growth with professional development, starting ideas that I did not think were possible and finally the most important bit some lifelong friends!
If you are thinking of applying then the first thing do you is to reach out to one of your local PROs and start a dialogue. I am also happy to mentor anyone if we can make the times work! This is something I did not have when I was applying and my introverted self at the time was too worried and scared to apply. There are some select members of the London VMUG who I can not thank enough for giving me that courage at the time to apply.
As PROs we are here now to help and coach you through the process and what things you can do to get started if needs be. This part of the program I think now is invaluable as it helps VMware have ears to the ground in local areas and the program is larger now so it’s hard to know why someone in the area may have gone silent for a while. Is it simply there are not enough events to talk at, or there just is not enough engagement in the area or has something happened with their role/life etc. I really love being a Pro as it provides me an opportunity to ignite that fire/passion in someone and watch them grow as others did for me in the past,
At this point, I have to stop oddly and mention some absolute superstars who you need to go follow if you do not already. Firstly Corey Romero as the VMware vExpert & VMware Community Manager so his tweets will include when things are opened up and always has some great blogs for inspiration. Next, there is Ariel Sanchez who made me feel so welcomed as a new vExpert and he is one of the fountains of all knowledge in this amazing program. Also you can not forget who would probably be closest to the father of the whole program and all-round amazing community guy John Troyer.
One main thing for that has come out of this whole thing is my personal growth. I honestly do not think I would be the engineer and person I am today without this program and VMUG. Both mentored me throughout from the time of the person who would not even make eye contact with anyone to now that person who (despite still being scared) will get up on a stage and speak in front of people. The best thing is everyone in the program around you wants you to succeed and you need to grab that and go with it. Mine all started off with a short 10 minute presentation about my love for Apple and VMware technologies to now where I can stand on a stage for 45-60 minutes and discuss a topic in length and keep people engaged in it. Back at that first talk I did not even think I could do the 10 minutes so never look back keep growing.
From this, I also got the courage to enter the Virtual Design Master series which really pushed my knowledge to the limit and really made me start to think outside the box. The entire team and judges on here have always been amazing and helped me every step of the way to grow despite it being a competition.
It has also allowed me to expand so much on my ‘Personal Brand’ to the point this year I have been recognised as one of VMware Top 100 Influencers. Yeah… I still can not believe it either but the program has really helped me get in tune with writing content, creating Podcasts and uploading videos but best of all finding and exploring a creative side in me.
The biggest opportunities for me is opening up some amazing channels to the greatest minds in the industry. I have some amazing engaging chats with people that I did not think were possible. It is amazing to think about what I have learnt from some of these things even webinars and been able to put out into my work. Some parts have been made possible by things such as the vExpert party and getting to meet Pat Gelsinger, its great to see how much he loved the program and made time to say Hi to everyone that wanted to.
Another thing is all the blogging/press events and getting in front of some of the product teams and decision-makers. I still hold every VMworld close especially the ones I got passes to as I would have otherwise not been able to afford to go. One thing I will say is self-fund if you can! It’s well worth it if your company won’t. That said two trips I have fond memories of thanks to John and his team are the Ravello Bloggers days. This also helped close a techy dream of being able to make it out to San Francisco and really see all the buzz! As above I also got to see some amazing cutting edge tech and got some great podcasts out from that day. I made some amazing contacts from all the above its great to see how everyone has grown. I do hope to go back one day and visit the VMware campus and at long last get across the golden gate bridge as the weather beat me the other times.
The biggest shell shock to me is still is at VMworld in Vegas where Alan Renouf stopped me for a chat about the podcast and seeing him live on stage! This is one thing that has always kept me driven as I still see these guys as the rockstars of our community.
One other thing I never thought would happen is I got to take over the VMware EMEA Twitter handle for a day! You can see this here.
Along with another honour that year being on the vAllStars for a 2nd year running, it was great fun to track these down and trade them with others for a signature.
The other great thing about this program is it bears fruit on some amazing ideas. Not to self-plug much but from the contacts I made a few of us started ideas such as the OpenHomeLab project and of course the OpenTechCast. I would have never done these by myself. There have also been things such as the #vBreakfast #vFit and many of the Ambassador & Mentor offerings people have done. Other great mentions here are things like the #vTrailMap from Yadin Porter and I know two things I really enjoyed was getting some vExpert T-Shirts done for Europe and also following up on the charity bags for UK events for people who could not make it to events like VMworld.
One thing I would have not expected to ever have got from this program is meeting some amazing people and having them as friends. Every VMworld I have been to I have come away with some great memories especially after some amazing laughs with the VMware Code team too! I think the best way to sum this part up is a little gallery of pictures that always have made me smile and reminds me of the great times with friends.
So what are you waiting for if you have read this far! Start your journey today and get involved in such as great community here right now!! Come grow with us and give back to the vCommunity