Boss Lady Takes on Toronto!

by Angela LaRocca

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

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WPC16 marked our VP Andrea Bemis’ first year partaking in this nonstop Gold Partner Adventure, otherwise known as Microsoft World Partner Conference. In the company of seasoned attendee Unidev CEO Greg Alexander and myself (another newbie), we all had plenty of our own a-ha moments (remember my life altering HoloLens experience or Greg’s encounter with legendary Bill Walton). Andrea’s was a bit different, and exclusive. First, let’s get into some first-timer feedback.

Info Overload

Greg-and-AndreaBased on Greg’s 2015 Conference High, Andrea knew she was in for more than just a fun and informative field trip to Toronto. WPC16 far exceeded even her high expectations. This event was a mashup of adventure, anticipation, and information overload to say the least. It could have been easy to arrive intimidated at such a massive, first-class event especially for first-timers. The beauty of WPC (okay two things) one, Bemis states, is that “Microsoft knows how to throw a party.” Enough said. But the ability to make even 20,000 unrelated partners feel important, valued, and comfortable, says a lot. “The minute we arrived, I felt like I belonged. It gave me a confidence.” That sense of inclusion speaks volumes for a company of Microsoft’s magnitude.

Follow the Leader

My nickname for Andrea has been “Boss Lady” as long as I have been reporting to her. She defines a true leader. IAndrea-Guest love working for unpretentious leaders. Those words don’t go together as often as I think they should, but Andrea walks the walk. Not just because she has done more than 7 different jobs at Unidev before the big-girl promotion to Vice President. Ask anybody how she operates. Naturally, many of her selected educational sessions revolved around the hot topic of leadership. Even having the fancy VP title, she shares, “Leadership is ongoing. You never stop learning. Use what you know for good and to be better. The key is to maintain and lead by example, not just ‘Do this because I’m the VP and I said so.” (perfect time to insert her infamous Mom voice). One session in particular on leadership highlighted something that especially stood out to Boss Lady, I mean, Andrea. Too often, people waste time dwelling on the issue rather than just solving the problem. She shares, “Problem solving is a major element of the Vice President role.” The rule for getting things done, or the edgier, #GSD, as the kids say, is to efficiently fight crime. Acknowledge what needs to be handled and simply move on. Don’t waste time, but rather use your common sense, your gut feeling and handle business. Bada bing bada boom.

That One Time Andrea had Dinner with Venus Williams…

Remember how we met the celebrity athletes at one of the partner parties? Well, something else pretty extraordinary happened. Andrea was lucky enough to receive one of the most exclusive and enviable invites to a dinner party with a fellow woman of influence. (Thanks to our fantastic Microsoft representative, Jeff Kaznica!) This time, ruler of the court. The tennis court. Out of the 20,000 attendees, 200 carefully selected Chosen Ones attended the US WPC People for Innovation event. The night kicked off with an interactive art exhibit created by future coders. Guests responded to the children’s art by writing positive words of encouragement on cards for young artists. The philanthropic actions didn’t stop there. Know how goals get real when they’re put into writing? Well they get even more real when they are featured on a large banner at the event. (see image) Andrea’s read, “I pledge Andrea-usatwpcto help everyone young and old, male and female, to know and remember their value and worth."

After the impressive cuisine, the evening flowed into an unforgettable presentation. The hot topic? Women in Innovation. The keynote speaker? None other than Venus Williams. (Have we mentioned how Microsoft spares no expense?) You did not read this wrong. Directly off a flight from handling the small task of winning the Wimbledon doubles final, the lovely and gracious Venus Williams engaged in conversation with her new girl boss BFFs. Sharing childhood stories, personal motivation, as well as honest challenges, she created the feeling of truly being among friends. “She made you feel like we were all around the dinner tables just telling stories. She was incredibly down-to-earth, had handwritten notes, and talked with us like we’re equals. It reminded me that people are still people no matter how much success you achieve.” I kindly reminded Andrea that she has that effect on people. The ability to talk with, not at your team, sets true leaders apart. They can confidently call the shots, and use their talent and grace to change the world one leadership moment at a time. Now that’s what we call inspirational innovation. Game, set, match.

Read Part II
Read Part I