WPC16 Was Not Greg's First Rodeo

by Angela LaRocca

So a CEO, VP and Brand Manager walk into the Microsoft World Partner conference Part II

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Email tends to have little to no tone. However, occasionally you can depict one’s excitement from words alone with no facial recognition to match sentiment. Last year I remember getting emails from Unidev’s CEO Greg Alexander while he was in Orlando for his first Microsoft WPC. As a notoriously even keeled person, I could sense Greg was fired up simply through his emails. We all could. Then when he returned, we confirmed it. Unlike yours truly, his face does not usually give him away. However, he entered the office on Microsoft cloud nine (couldn’t resist). We diagnosed Greg with “Conference High,” complete with adrenaline rush, as a result of overdosing on excitement.

But Orlando was so last year; flash forward to 2016. I sat down with our CEO post-2016 WPC to get his take. Greg shares how the overall tone and intent of the conference compared to last year. One phrase kept playing through my mind, “You will be different after this experience.” No, that was not a fortune cookie prediction. Those were Greg’s words as he frequently reminded Andrea Bemis, Unidev Vice President, and me in the months building up to the main event.

Fire up the Fitbit

Logistically, the environment had to be scalable to accommodate the crowd. Microsoft entertained 20,000 of their closest friends (okay, partners) in only one space last year. “Facilities were fundamentally different than in Orlando. There, everything was in one building.” However, Toronto was a bit more spread out. We all learned very quickly that comfortable shoes were essential. Depending on where your sessions were throughout the day, and how often you frequented the exhibitor hall, dining room, and wonderfully dangerous coffee bars, one could certainly rack up some serious mileage on foot. Andrea tracked our steps, and we averaged 3.5-5 miles daily! Compared to last year, Greg noted the quality and energy of the overall event was very similar. Microsoft DELIVERS. You may have a rough idea of how life-changing this event would be, but until you walk a mile in an attendees’ shoes, (or many miles, as we did) you weren’t truly changed. We all experienced it and are better because of it.

Kind of a Big Deal

As much as I begged both Andrea and Greg to just once use the term, “Don’t you know who I am?” my wish was not granted. Both are incredibly humble. Neither will brag about themselves, so I’ll gladly tackle that. However, for an organization whose tagline is, “It’s All About U,” our company’s clout escalated, as we truly learned to embrace Microsoft Gold Partner status and all its glory. Greg shares, “Unidev has been a Microsoft partner for over 20 years and a Gold Partner for eight. It shows Microsoft we’re willing to make the kind of investment you have to be a great partner .” This credible partnership is something to be taken seriously. Unidev is known for playing well with others, but this particular union was especially eye-opening. An obvious commonality among the crowd was the Partner aspect, however, next to no one did more than sell and use Microsoft products. Something that stood out to Greg was Unidev’s marketing solution, and how he plans to strategically align Unidev as a go-to trusted company to bring the unique marketing element to future partnerships. There is something powerful about that moment you become aware of your distinct qualities. This was his a-ha moment. “We didn’t run into anybody that does marketing. We can do these things. Azure offers all these capabilities, and we stand out. We are different because we can implement some of the tools the other partners sell, like big data, for example.”

Greg’s A-List Entourage (Spoiler alert: it’s not Andrea and me)

One surprise element and definite highlight was going to a secret party. The elusive invite left much to the imagination. All we knew was that we were to be downstairs and ready to be picked up in a shuttle at 6:45 pm sharp. That was the extent of our knowledge. We loved the idea of a mysterious field trip. Cut to an hour later, we were in the midst of quite a soiree, and elaborate was an understatement. Once again, Microsoft spared no expense. This lavish gathering encompassed delectable snackage, a live DJ, a backdrop of the city skyline, all while mixing and mingling just feet away from the picturesque Lake Ontario. Another small detail? Attendees had the opportunity to meet and take photos with legends in the wonderful world of sports! Those icons included Bill Walton, Nancy Kerrigan, Marcus Allen, and Jeremy Roenick. “Jeremy was extremely personable, very friendly, and he even asked about St. Louis. That made it worthwhile.” Those experiences, those moments of living in the midst of an adventure, surrounded by your tribe, staying afloat and alert because FOMO was a very real thing, all shaped our world perspective during WPC. Those moments made us all different post-World Partner Conference.

 

Read Part I
Read Part III