Getting back to being Maker – making more content

I’ve always prided myself on being a ‘maker’, whether that’s in my IT world or my Woodturning hobbyists world. And being a maker can mean a number of things. In woodturning, it generally means slapping a piece of wood on the lathe and turning a rough piece of wood into something beautiful.

I’ve recently been experimenting with turning wooden birds as a way of using up some odd scraps of wood and it’s been a fascinating journey to see how I can represent a mixture of species in a number of ways. The image below is a stylised version of a Wader, and I’ve recently been working on Robins and Wrens with a mixture of success.

Woodturning Maker - Stylised Bird - Wader

The IT ‘Maker’

In the IT world, the word ‘Maker’ most often means putting out some content on YouTube, or creating an App in PowerApps but for me it also means ‘making’ knowledge and ‘making’ it available to people to consume. As a consultant this has often been part of my day to day role, with me creating and sharing knowledge with the clients that I’m working with. This has often meant some long hours, mixed between travelling, prepping for conferences and working with Clients.

For those of you that have read my blog in the past, you’ll know that I had a major life event at the end of 2019 that put me in hospital for heart surgery and took me out of commission for several months. I made a slow return to work and was actually helped by Covid as that forced a longer spell of recuperation than would actually have been possible without the pandemic.

As the pandemic started to die down, I had written a few articles and was back to full time work with my employer Trustmarque. However I felt myself dropping back into some of my previous bad habits. So I decided it was time to make a number of lifestyle changes. The easiest of the changes was adopting some of the M365 tools to help me manage my workload and I hope to write about some of these soon. (For the curious, I’m talking about things like using To Do to manage my tasks list and help reduce stress by curating it regularly using MyDay, being disciplined with my use of Outlook, using Power Automate to monitor my Inbox for key messages using a VIP/Subject list in M365 Lists (And even a bit of sentiment analysis!)).

Making a positive change

By far the biggest change however was to step away from the Consulting lifestyle at the end of 2022 and to take an Associate Director role with WTW, looking after a large M365 platform (along with a number of smaller tenants) that draws on my Multi-Geo expertise and other areas of my M365 skillset on a daily basis.

It’s been an interesting mind switch from Consultant to Customer and I’m really enjoying the challenge and the ability to not just flex my existing M365 skills, but to also grow in areas that haven’t traditionally been part of my skillset, such as Exchange Online.

I’m still committed to the Microsoft 365 Community, continue to speak at events and continue to maintain my MVP status. Part of my reason for joining WTW is their attitude to ‘making’ knowledge, sharing internally, valuing my MVP status and supporting a healthy work life balance. I regularly present internally on making use of the M365 tools to help manage your workflow, your life balance and generally trying not to end up where I did at the end of 2019!

Looking forward into 2024, I have a number of speaking engagements line up, with a return to North America to speak at NACS in early April, followed by a few more CollabDays events throughout the year (1 confirmed, several submitted!)


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