The MVP Global Summit has ended, and what an inspiring week it was! Last week Microsoft headquarters in Bellevue and Redmond buzzed with excitement, as MVPs and Regional Directors (RDs) from 82 countries converged to celebrate 25 innovative years of the MVP Award Program.
This year more than 2,100 MVPs and RDs traveled to the Summit - including 600+ first-time attendees. We saw friends from across borders reconnect and share their expert knowledge to provide valuable feedback on Microsoft technologies with Product Groups (PGs).
For many in our community, the MVP Summit was a trip of a lifetime. After all, who doesn’t want to spend multiple days diving into deep technical sessions and hands-on workshops?! This year the Summit hosted 645 sessions, including ones that focused on soft-skill development, interactive breakout sessions for all Award Categories, keynote speeches, panel discussions, and hackathons organized by PGs to finish off the week. There was lots of social media buzz about it all, too. In total MVP Award tweets received over 65,000 impressions. MVPs also set up their own PowerBI to track tweets, which you can see here!
We know those who attended the MVP Summit are already counting down the days until the next event and those who didn’t are hungry to hear the details. Of course, we can’t share most session titles due to NDA - but here are our top highlights from the 2018 MVP Global Summit:
Community building and soft-skill development at Pre-Day
The Summit Team was especially excited to kick off the Summit with the Community Pre-Day on Sunday, March 4. And based on engagement, Pre-Day demonstrated that MVPs and RDs are hungry for soft-skills development! With over 12 sessions on two different tracks, the day featured a diverse range of speakers - including MVPs, RDs, Microsoft Student Partners (MSPs), and Microsoft employees.
Attendees learned how to engage younger generations online from MSPs, Doug Winne and Walt Ritscher of LinkedIn demonstrated how to rock a LinkedIn profile, MVP Rie Irish presented on how to support women’s voices in IT - and that’s just to name a few! The day was filled with an abundance of actionable advice from real-world experts.
“This is my first MVP Summit, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Pre-Day. The atmosphere exceeded anything I'd hoped. 500+ attendees could have been anywhere but chose to attend the soft skills sessions,” said Rie. “People were engaged, excited and enthusiastic about what was being presented to them. Watching people greet old friends at registration was so reassuring. Hearing people excitedly hold technical conversations in such a social setting reminded me ‘these are my people!’”
Taking a breather with PaintFest
MVP Summit attendees are notorious for always being on-the-go. However, this year, PaintFest provided them with a healthy break. During the main event from Monday-Wednesday participants could take some quiet time to themselves and collaborate on painting 4 awesome murals. Not only was it a great escape, it was also a wonderful way for our attendees to give back to the local community and let their creative juices flow through a medium beyond code or tech.
Each mural was donated to a local Seattle hospital and will give the white walls a burst of color to ‘soften’ stays for patients. To facilitate this Microsoft partnered with the Foundation for Hospital Art, an organization which since 1984, has facilitated the creation of more than 44,000 paintings for 4000 hospitals in 195 countries.
Regional meetups to drive impact in local communities
The Summit offers attendees and PGs a range of networking opportunities to expand global and local community connections. And on Monday evening, our globally-based Community Program Managers (CPMs) hosted Regional Meet-ups for MVPs and RDs, to increase conversation and idea sharing in regions around the world.
Since participants were divided by region, it was a great opportunity for everyone to meet their CPMs and connect with other MVPs to learn about how they can get involved in their local communities. Overall, regional meetups acted as a bonding event for participants – just take a look at how proud the Canadian MVPs and RDs are above!
Developing relationships with PGs at happy hour
One of the biggest perks of attending the Summit is having the opportunity to connect with Product Group members at Microsoft. The Happy Hour events facilitated exactly this. PGs across Microsoft hosted 10 different Happy Hours based on award category on Tuesday evening, providing the ideal setting for everyone to share ideas, exchange solutions, and establish working relationships with other MVPs, PGs, and Summit speakers.
Commemorating the community at the Attendee Celebration
In perhaps one of the most energized Summit events, participants used the Attendee Celebration on Wednesday evening as a chance to really commemorate 25 years of the MVP Program! The Microsoft blue-lit room was buzzing with energy as participants matched each other in games – like ping pong and foosball – shared a delicious meal, took plenty of selfies, and danced the night away at the silent disco. Simply put, it was epic!
Participating in post-event hackathons and workshops
While the Summit formally concluded at the Attendee Celebration on Wednesday, more than 64% (or roughly 1380+) stayed to participate in 70 post-event hackathons and workshops hosted by some PGs. The events on Thursday and Friday were a huge success - with attendees raving about the intimate, hands-on environment that allowed for greater engagement with each other and PGs.
With a huge scale of networking opportunities for MVPs and RDs, amazing technical and soft-skill sessions – and yes, the silent disco – the MVP Global Summit 2018 demonstrated just how devoted and driven our community really is. Here's to another 25 years, and we can't wait to celebrate with you all next year, too!