Shawn Dorward, VP, Service Delivery was conferred with the Legends Award at Community Summit NA. In this interview, he talks about his journey with Microsoft Dynamics and shares tips on how to become an MVP.
Every year, Summit NA hosts an award ceremony and hands out the Legends Award. This year they presented eight awards, and we are proud to say that our VP for Global Delivery – Shawn Dorward was a recipient of this award.
“sa.global could not be more proud to announce that Shawn is now a Legend of Community Summit North America. Summit is the largest education and networking event for Microsoft users and partners in North America, and to be nominated by clients and your peers speaks volumes. Each year, less than ten people are selected as Community Summit Legends. Shawn works tirelessly to make the Dynamics community a better place, and we are super appreciative of all the value he adds.” – Matt Calderwood, Chief Revenue Officer, Americas.
We interviewed Shawn after his award ceremony, and here’s what he had to say.
Q: You are a legend now. How do you feel after winning the Community Summit Legends Award?
A: It is very exciting to receive this recognition. I am just proud and fortunate to be a part of the Dynamics community. I enjoy sharing all the cool stuff that I learn about the Dynamics products day-to-day and the interactions I have with our clients. As someone who enjoys doing that every day and at every conference, it is the icing on the cake to be recognized. I am very humbled and appreciative of the recognition.
Q: How long have you been a member of Dynamic Communities?
A: This is my 12th conference with Dynamics Communities. I started as an end user just like most folks who come to my sessions at these events, or to a webinar, or my personal blog site. I was an end-user starving to learn more. That was my first reason for going to a Dynamics conference. I was encouraged by some great folks in the space – to take the things I have learned while I pounded the pavement trying to be better as an end user for my organization and share them with others. I was very apprehensive and reluctant to do that, but through some good convincing, and like most times, when you give back to a community that has given you something, it’s fulfilling in a different way. I learned and I learned more by preparing to share with others than I did as an attendee in the audience. It’s just my way of learning. I am a concise information kind of learner, and I turned that into the way that I like to share with people. I love hearing and feeling the appreciation and success of the people who come to these events and the sessions because I know that I am helping make a difference in their day-to-day lives and make a difference in their careers. And to me, that’s the real reward.
Q:How will this award change your role at Dynamic Communities?
A:: I lead with passion, and I feel like if people are willing to listen, I am willing to talk, and as long as I am welcome, I will continue to participate and hopefully impact someone’s day and make it a little bit easier through a life hack.
Q: You are also a five-time Microsoft MVP. Tell us a little bit about your journey.
A: It is very much the same, the recognition as a Legend and the recognition as an MVP through Microsoft. There’s a great way to have fun and learn and to be uplifting in a sense, and the Microsoft MVP award is something that I cherish very much. Before I received that award, I felt like it was something unattainable, and for it to be renewed a couple of years in a row feels surreal.
A lot of the people that I look up to, that I learned from, that have motivated me – I met them as they were an MVP, and so looking up to them and being inspired by them, I never would have imagined that I would be considered in the same realm.
The journey’s been wonderful. It has been eye-opening and it’s a constant reminder that the learning journey is never over. You never even get halfway. The world of technology is changing rapidly. Businesses change so quickly, and to stay on the cutting edge of these changes, we have to learn. So, no different than a legend, alike as an MVP, sharing what you know must come first.
Q:What advice would you give someone trying to become an MVP or a Legend?
A:This is a very common question from people looking in from the outside. There’s a large number of folks who are very passionate about what they do, and they pursue the accolade of an MVP or Legend. But as the adage goes, “A watched pot never boils.” If you are looking for the end result, it’s likely not going to come. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to be recognized as an MVP. I think the absolute truth of being an MVP and a Legend is the why and why we do these things. It’s not because of the recognition. In fact, it’s in spite of it! It is to make the connection to the community and help you know that the better the community does, the better the products do, and the better all our businesses that use these products do.
The real focus for someone aspiring to be an MVP is to ask yourself why you want to help the community and if you really value that experience and then drive on. Ask as much as you can. Raise your hand often and early. I have learned that people don’t always come asking you to come to speak at their event. You may have to ask them. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you are in the right mindset, you have the right reason, drive on, and the space will recognize your contributions.
Q: You have recently been promoted to a new role at sa.global as Vice President of Service Delivery. How do you apply your knowledge as an MVP in your new role?
A:One of the most important things I do daily is engaging with our clients – the end users of the Dynamics and Power Platform products. Regardless of my role and responsibilities, being an MVP, the genesis of an MVP is learning; you can only share what you have learned. In my role, this role or roles I had before, it is important to have a strong knowledge of the products as they are today and be able to communicate the effects that it will have on an organization’s business and be a truth-teller of what those effects are – not only for today but the changes that are imminently coming through rollout waves and to be prepared. Being an MVP definitely gives me some of that drive to have that in my toolbox when I am discussing escalation issues with another senior leader or providing guidance on a team call when we are collaborating on how to best properly implement workflow. The varying degrees of complexity and technical aspects are the importance of the MVP, regardless of the role.
Q: What does a day in the life of an MVP look like?
A:The same as the day in the life of someone who is not an MVP! Being recognized as a Legend or an MVP makes me no different, no better than anyone else. I start my day with the ambition to learn something new, which usually happens quite quickly in my day, but I don’t think a day of a Legend or an MVP looks any different than anyone else’s. There is a little more seriousness put into some things. I start by trying to learn something new. I love collaborating with folks. I thoroughly enjoy my podcasts, and I am often writing notes about what is cool that I have discovered that I could share with others. That might be the slight difference because if I weren’t an MVP or Legend, I wouldn’t be so concerned about writing a blog. But I love writing blogs. They get on the front side of making an impact before a conference.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to say?
A:I want to thank the Dynamic Communities, as well as say thank you to the prior Legends, and to those who were part of recognizing me this year. I genuinely appreciate it.
Download Shawn’s presentation slides here.