Episode 186 – Stay Positive and Seek Out New Opportunities to Energize Your Tech Career with Thomas Maurer
Phil’s guest on today’s show is Thomas Maurer. He works for Microsoft as a senior cloud advocate. In that role, he engages with customers and the community to use the cloud to transform their businesses. He is part of the Azure engineering team.
Thomas has been awarded the Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Award, several times. He is also an accomplished public speaker and the author of two books.
Over the years, he worked as a software and systems engineer for several companies. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was the Lead Architect for a Swiss engineering and consulting firm.
(1.15) – So, Thomas can you tell us a bit about your career before joining Microsoft. Thomas explains that he started his IT career straight after he left school. He began by working for a firm of consultants, then a service provider, before returning to consulting and engineering.
He ended up working a lot with Visual Studio. So, when he got the chance to be a Microsoft Cloud Advocate he couldn’t resist saying yes. Thomas really enjoys the fact that the role keeps him close to the community, attending events, learning and helping others to do more.
(4.18) – Can you please share a unique career tip with the I.T. career audience? Thomas says it is very important to learn to stay positive. Things are bound to go wrong. Maintaining a positive attitude helps you to get through those times and make what you are working on a success. Over the years, Thomas has noticed that negativity attracts negative things. The mindset of the workforce has a huge impact on a company. Of course, at times, things get tough, but being optimistic keeps you going and takes you through it.
(6.26) – Can you tell us about your worst career moment? And what you learned from that experience. Many years ago, Thomas spotted a job he really wanted. But, he just assumed he was not experienced enough to land the role, so he did not apply. Instead, he set his sights lower and joined another company.
When he rang a friend to tell them about his new job, they thought he was crazy for taking it and told him that they could have helped him to land the job he really wanted. They said so in a nice way, but it was still a bit deflating.
At that point, Thomas realized that not applying for his dream job was a mistake. It felt pretty bad, but he had said yes, so he started working for the other company. Only then did he realize how big a mistake he had made. They did not have the right type of projects for his skill set and what he wanted to learn. So, for a few months, his career progression slowed.
Fortunately, not long afterwards, he was offered his dream job. But, he played things cool and told them he wanted to sleep on it. This gave him time to think and be certain that he was not making a mistake. In the morning, he took the job, which turned out to be one of the best decisions he has ever made.
(10.30) – What was your best career moment? Of course, landing his dream job was a big moment.
So, was getting his first Windows Insider MVP award, in 2012. He is especially proud of the fact that one of the chairmen nominated him. Thomas loves working with the community, speaking, blogging and helping others. But, it felt great to have his efforts recognized. Over the years, Thomas has won several MVPs and other awards.
(14.39) – Can you tell us what excites you about the future of the IT industry and careers? The never-ending variety of the projects you end up working on keeps things exciting and interesting. But, Thomas thinks the changes cloud computing has brought have been particularly exciting. Better still, there is more to come.
He also sees machine learning, IoT, 5G and AI bringing in another wave of drastic changes. The list of new opportunities this tech opens up is endless.
(16.52) – What drew you to a career in IT? It was Thomas’ love of gaming that laid the foundations for his IT career. Through it, he got into building his own computers and optimising the operating system.
(17.30) – What is the best career advice you have ever received? The best career advice Thomas given was not to complain too much. Instead, work to make things better.
(17.47) – Conversely, what is the worst career advice you’ve ever received? Someone once told Thomas to stretch the truth a bit. Thomas does not feel comfortable doing that. He believes that if you take that approach, in the end, people will lose trust in you.
(18.19) – If you were to begin your IT career again, right now, what would you do? Thomas says he would become a data scientist, working with AI and machine learning.
(18.50) – What are you currently focusing on in your career? Of course, Thomas is focusing on adjusting to a different working environment. His role as a cloud advocate requires him to spend a lot of customers listening to their issues. So, at the moment, he is honing his listening skills. It is vital that he truly listens to what they are saying. If he fails to do this he cannot make the right decisions.
(19.38) – What is the number one non-technical skill that has helped you the most in your IT career? Thomas feels that is his presentation skills. It was a tough skill for him to learn because he was a very shy person, but he is glad that he did.
(20.26) – What do you do to keep your own IT career energized? Being a person who wants to know it all helps to keep Thomas’ career energized. He finds being on the bleeding edge keeps him interested and engaged.
(20.59) – What do you do in your spare time away from technology? Thomas enjoys running, playing badminton and going to the gym. They offer him the chance to completely switch off from work-related things.
(21.50) – Phil asks Thomas to share a final piece of career advice with the audience. Never give up on the things that are important is Thomas’ parting piece of career advice.
Not everything will come easily, but, in the end, you will get there. Good results, often require a lot of hard work and effort.
(3.24) THOMAS – “Listen to your customers. Think about what’s on their minds, what is stopping them from succeeding.”
(4.41) THOMAS – “What’s helped me a lot is staying positive.”
(6.19) THOMAS – “Enthusiasm is infectious.”
(17.26) THOMAS – “Stop complaining. Instead, take action and make things better.”
(22.02) THOMAS – “Never give up. Be persistent and put in the practice to reach your goal.”