Well, ugh – of course you don’t – who would? It’s a horrible thought…! But perhaps you think you’d be a good fit for the open position we have in our team right now for another Windows Presentation Foundation evangelist, in which case, read on.
We’re actively recruiting right now for someone who can help lead the effort to change forever the way that Windows-based applications look. With WPF, we’re already starting to see a new wave of applications that redefine user experience. You can see early examples of these by looking at some of the screenshots Karsten posted in his mix06 trip report, but as WPF starts to hit the mainstream, we’re going to need to broaden our team to effectively reach and assist consumer and business ISVs, enterprises, and web content publishers.
What does an evangelist actually do? Over the last year or so, I find that the majority of my work falls into four largely discrete buckets:
- Account Engagement. Identifying showcase partners that have the potential to generate a snowball effect due to their market penetration or the exploitative nature of their work, and giving them day-to-day assistance with their technical and business needs. You’d probably handle anywhere from 3-10 customers on a 1:1 basis, working alongside their developers and architects to unblock them, as well as running technical deep-dive labs and participating on conference calls.
- Hero to the Field. Internally there’s the need to ensure that our worldwide technical and sales divisions are well equipped with great demos, presentation content, and other information so that they have everything they need to work with their customers.
- Building an Ecosystem. The first customers to start building on our technology began about two years ago, when there was precious little documentation or samples, no books or introductory whitepapers, and plenty of bugs and inconsistencies in the API. Most of them only succeeded through one-to-one support from the product team. As we near release, we want to gradually inculcate an ecosystem that can be self-supporting, so that the answers to questions people have are in the public domain. An evangelist can support this by finding the next generation of “rockstars” – MVPs and others who are broadly recognized as experts, writing whitepapers and other content for MSDN that sets the stage for WPF, putting good valuable developer technical notes out there through outlets like blogs which can be more rapidly updated than the SDK, and so on.
- Internal Impact. There’s a strategic aspect to the evangelist role that shouldn’t be overlooked. Like any organization, we don’t make the right decision every time; getting the bad decisions “fixed” before they ever appear in a product or announcement is part and parcel of the job of an evangelist – being an internal advocate for customers and trying to help get our strategy right. In some ways, this is the most rewarding aspect of the job – I can barely think of another organization or working group outside of the executive leadership that has the potential to effect change across cross-product boundaries to better meet the needs of our customers.
If I were to sum up the characteristics we’d be looking for from a potential hire, I’d include the following:
- Technical Expertise. We’re looking for developers who are credible in terms of technical skill set. It’s not the end of the world if you’re not the world-class PhD engineer who leaves everyone in awe at the beautifully engineered solutions you generate, but a strong developer background certainly is required. You need to be able to keep several steps ahead of a customer who knows the technology well and has some hard questions to ask, and you need to command respect from others for your grasp of the platform.
- Passion. A good evangelist is contagious in their enthusiasm. That doesn’t mean that you’re a shill who pretends you like everything we do, but it means that you stand out to others as someone who has a deep-seated interest in the technologies they care about, and a motivation to see them succeed. You need to be the kind of person that inspires others.
- Business Acumen. You need to be confident in your ability to stand up in front of an audience of CTOs and be able to synthesize an offering in a relevant way. Are you able to crystallize a set of features or APIs into a value proposition that delivers some benefit to a prospective customer? Are you able to relate to non-technical people as well as technical people?
- Communication. Are you clear and precise in your use of language? Would others choose to read a whitepaper that you’ve written, or attend a conference session at which you were speaking?
- Flexibility and Multitasking. Can you juggle ten different projects at once? Can you manage an inbox which is flooded with over one hundred mails addressed directly to you every day, whilst actually getting stuff done? Can others rely on you to meet your commitments without being chased? Are you flexible enough to manage your own time, working long hours when there’s a crunch but preserving a solid work/life balance?
As you can probably see, we’re looking for an all-rounder. There aren’t many jobs like this, and not everyone is suited for it or has the breadth of skills needed. But some people are born evangelists. My gut feeling is that you probably know if you fall into that category already, and if so, you’ll love this role.
If you’re interested, please feel free to check out the formal job specification; you can contact me via the contact hyperlink on this blog if you want to submit a resume directly. The job is based in Redmond here in the US. Oh, and make sure you read this before you interview…!