Meet Version 1’s First Microsoft Azure MVP – Daniel McLoughlin
Read time: 7 mins
Version 1 is proud to share that Daniel McLoughlin, Senior Azure Consultant, has been recognised as Microsoft Azure MVP and is the first Microsoft MVP in the history of the company. Read on for an interview with Daniel where we dive into the MVP programme, his role at Version 1, what he does outside of work and how he has helped to build a global community.
But first, what is a Microsoft MVP? Microsoft MVPs or Most Valuable Professionals are technology experts who have a passion for innovation and getting their hands on new and exciting technologies. They have very deep knowledge of Microsoft products and services and continuously share their knowledge and expertise with the MS community. They bring together diverse platforms, products, and solutions to solve real-world problems.
The Microsoft MVP Award is broken down into several categories to cover the entire Microsoft ecosystem, such as Microsoft Azure MVP , AI MVP, and so on for Security, Developer Technologies, and many more.
To become a Microsoft MVP you must first be nominated by either a Microsoft employee or an existing MVP. You then need to submit 12 months’ worth of evidence to support your nomination, which is reviewed by Microsoft. If successful, you get a profile on the official site which also curates your publications.
Read on for our interview with Daniel.
Q. What does it mean to be a Microsoft MVP?
Becoming a Microsoft MVP is all about the community. I’m heavily involved in the Azure communities on both Twitter and Reddit, which generally speaking, is a collaborative and supportive environment for likeminded individuals with similar interests. My contributions to the community range from my side projects such as Azure Pirate and Azure Projects, to mentoring, public speaking and blogging. I’m also about to launch my first podcast! This may sound like a lot, but I’m simply following my passion for the tech, and this is where it’s led me.
Being a Microsoft MVP is an honour and a privilege, and I’m still in shock about it to be honest!
Q. What does a typical workday for you look like?
A mad rush in the morning to get the kids off to school and nursery, followed by a strong cup of tea as I start the workday from my home office.
My workday itself is often quite varied. The type of work I undertake ranges from general consultancy to designs, diagrams, infrastructure-as-code and pipelines. No two projects are the same – and I love that about my job. It keeps me on my toes!
I try and drag my backside to the gym at least three times a week over my lunch break. If not for the exercise, then at the very least a change of scenery and a chance to chat with people. Working from home full-time is a fantastic privilege, but I’ve found it’s important to stick to a routine and socialise where possible.
Once I’ve finished my working day it’s another mad rush to pick up the kids from school and nursery. Rinse and repeat!
Q. Can you tell us about the most rewarding project you have worked on at Version 1?
Great question! I’ve worked on one design recently that involved using speech-to-text services in Azure to replace the need for a Dictaphone. The idea is that the user would use a speech-to-text service to take notes and populate forms that otherwise would have been paper-based. Another great one was less technical and more practical, where I worked with a customer over a 9-month period to build out their internal DevOps capabilities and establish it within the wider organisation. That was really rewarding – I got to work with some great people and you could really notice the difference by the end of the engagement.
Becoming a Microsoft MVP is all about the community. I’m heavily involved in the Azure communities on both Twitter and Reddit, which generally speaking, is a collaborative and supportive environment for likeminded individuals with similar interests.
Q. How do you see the Azure DevOps space evolving in the next 12-24 months?
AI! AI everywhere! Seriously, I believe the use of AI like ChatGPT and the Azure OpenAI Service in the DevOps space is going to be a game-changer.
I’ve already used ChatGPT to write code for Terraform, GitHub Actions and PowerShell, and it’s been (for the most part) highly effective. I believe the role of a DevOps Engineer (and likewise any Cloud Engineer) will significantly change in the next 12-24 months. I’m particularly excited about AI enhancing the areas of DevOps like authoring pipelines and IaC, security and testing.
Q. What do you enjoy the most about your role and working for Version 1?
The people and the culture! To be really honest, I’ve never really paid much attention to a companies “core values” before, believing them to be corporate nonsense that were more marketing than realistic. With Version 1 however, that is vastly untrue. The Strength in Balance and our Core Values come into almost every aspect of my role here (in a good way), and that’s reflected in the culture. I feel it make a massive difference – and no, they aren’t paying me extra to say this!
Q. What are some of the challenges you face in your role?
From a technology perspective, a huge challenge is keeping pace with the rate of change. As soon as I feel like I know something well, it’s changed or outright replaced. It’s a constant struggle to keep track of an estate as vast as Azure, let alone all of Microsoft and the wider industry.
I believe the use of AI like ChatGPT and the Azure OpenAI Service in the DevOps space is going to be a game-changer.
Q. What advice would you give to candidates applying to become an MS MVP?
Be passionate and get involved.
I’d suggest getting involved is as much as you can, but be realistic about it. It can be very easy to over-commit yourself and get burnt out, so setting realistic expectations and timescales is important. For me personally, I have a young family and limited time to myself, let alone community contributions. Through the wider Azure community, I made friends that are in the exact same position as myself, and so we’d schedule time in the evenings (when the kids are in bed) to work on projects and review each other’s articles. Determine what works for you whilst maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
I’d also recommend keeping yourself organised. Set objectives and plan time to work towards them, even if its little and often. If and when you get an MVP nomination, you need to provide 12 months worth of evidence, so keeping a record of your contributions is important too.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the benefits of working with the wider Microsoft Community?
Quite like working at Version 1, my answer to this is the people and the culture. The wider Microsoft community (in my experience) is a supportive and positive place to be. I often find out about the latest tips and tricks on Twitter before I do on any official channel and get quicker responses to a request for help then through official channels too! I’d also like to point out that it’s not all about the tech – you’ll find that community members are happy to chat, collaborate and support one another, from conversations on holiday plans to life with a family and mental health.
My contributions to the community range from my side projects such as Azure Pirate and Azure Projects, to mentoring, public speaking and blogging. I’m also about to launch my first podcast! This may sound like a lot, but I’m simply following my passion for the tech, and this is where it’s led me.
Q. What do you like to do in your free time and over the weekends?
I have two young children. Both boys, with the eldest being 6 and the youngest being 3. Needless to say, I have no free time! 🙂
Q. What are your favourite books and TV shows at the moment?
I have a very eclectic taste in books, with my favourites ranging from The Godfather by Mario Puzo, to I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. For the most part, I enjoy anything historical, such as The Vikings TV series on Amazon Prime.
Q. If you were not working in tech, what would you be doing?
I think I’d be a teacher or lecturer. I really enjoy the social element of my work, and don’t mind the odd bit of public speaking.
Huge congratulations to Daniel on becoming Version 1’s first Microsoft MVP! We can’t wait to see the amazing contributions he makes to the wider Microsoft community.
About Version 1 and Microsoft
Version 1 is a Microsoft Gold Technology partner and has been working with Microsoft Technology since 2006. Today, we are recognised as one of the most competent partners in the UK and Irish markets. With broad and deep expertise across the Microsoft stack, Version 1 can look beyond specific requirements to underlying customer issues and identify integrated solutions that leverage the entire technology stack. We have been on the Azure Partner Circle since 2013 and are Azure FastTrack Enabled. Named Industry Partner of the Year 2022, Finalist in the Global Modernising Applications Partner of the Year Award 2022, Microsoft’s Data Estate Modernisation Partner of Choice in Ireland in 2019 and 2020, Partner Award for Intelligent Cloud in 2019, and Business Intelligence & Data Analytics Partner of the Year 2016, we have end-to-end Microsoft capability with demonstrated expertise across a wide number of competencies.