Isidora Katanic from the north of Switzerland is a Microsoft MVP (Microsoft Most Valued Professional) and co-founder of the event management company districtUP – organizing IT community conferences Experts Live Europe and Experts Live Switzerland focused on Microsoft cloud, datacenter, security and modern workplace technologies. Isidora engages with the Microsoft community and travels around the world to organize, speak and attend conferences to learn, connect and share with others. She is also the co-host of the community talk show “Head in the cloud, Heart in the community” along with her partner in crime Holly Lehman (Program Manager, Microsoft).
All of those who know Isi or interacted with her on social media can confidently say that she is a true inspiration, making people smile through her tweets or talk shows and always willing to help. We have all faced a tough time with the current Covid pandemic, but Isi along with Holly have made us smile.
Isi has a massive passion for Tech and enjoys supporting and helping grow the Tech community, that passion also pours out of her interview. I won’t spoil the fun, let’s move on 😊
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Isidora Katanic interview
Tell us about yourself?
First of all, Azure Crazy thank you very much for having me on this interview! My name is Isidora Katanic and I live in a small village in the north of Switzerland. I’m born in former-Yugoslavia and grew up in the fabulous city Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I’m nearly a decade in the IT industry and there has never been a dull moment! I love being in this tech world, it’s evolving every single day and we’re part of an amazing global IT community.
In my profession, I organize IT conferences focused on Microsoft cloud, datacenter, security and modern workplace solutions. I truly love my job as I get to connect with people from all around the world and bring them together for a few days per year to learn about (new) technologies, connect with global vendors, and make new friends. Unfortunately, now the conference scene is on-hold due to the pandemic, so I’m really missing everything and everyone and can’t wait for in-person events again!
What is your greatest achievement whilst working in the world of Tech?
My greatest achievement whilst working in the tech world, is one of my most recent highlights: being awarded with the (MVP) Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award! This is a beautiful recognition of the work I’ve done so far in the community, as well as a great motivation to keep on doing what I love. I started my own blog at www.isidorakatanic.com, became active as a public speaker on (virtual) events, as well as started the video series “Head in the Cloud, Heart in the Community”
This is a community talk show I co-host together with my partner in crime Holly Lehman (Program Manager, Microsoft) to shine a light on the amazing work our community members are doing.
You have been successful in the Tech world and an inspiration for other women. What would you recommend for women considering a career in Tech?
I really encourage more women to join the tech industry, it’s such a buzzing industry with so many opportunities now and in the future. It’s a forever changing industry, where women in tech add their personal skills and value to increase innovation, as well as revenue. Diverse teams with diverse perspectives are so important to challenge each other in any type of business. In fact, multiple studies show that companies perform (financially) better with women in leadership positions. My recommendation to any girl or woman considering a career in tech, is to not be discouraged, and to find a mentor who can be there for you if you have any questions about your journey in tech. A mentor can be a colleague, a friend, or someone you haven’t met and has the experience in this tech industry to give you guidance, tips or advice if needed. My door is always open, so feel free to connect with me and reach out.
What has your experience been like as a successful woman working in tech?
In 10 years in the tech industry, I have worked through experiences, amazing, awesome, great, good, challenging, and difficult ones. There are always highs and lows. I dealt with some awesome promotions and opportunities, as well as with inequality and disappointments in the work field. Success doesn’t just fall on your plate, it requires lots of dedication, passion, hard work and the courage to speak up and let your voice be heard. Overall, my experience in the tech world has been fantastic with lots of joy and passion in all my work and community activities.
Traveling around the world to attend, speak or organize tech conferences, meeting (new) people, has truly been an amazing part of my journey in tech. In the past few months of a COVID-world, I have discovered even more how closely connected we are as a community. On a daily basis I speak, call, chat, or work with so many brilliant people I surrounded myself with throughout the years. I’m really thankful and grateful for these connections with good-hearted people in the IT community!
Are there any women in tech who have inspired you?
There are many women in tech who have inspired me! People I’ve known for years in person, as well as people I connected with through the online tech world, or even people I’ve never spoken with before but got inspired by their words or actions. If YOU are looking to connect with more Women in Tech, check out this website including details on females in the tech world.
How did you get into the world of Microsoft Azure?
Through my professional career! Although, I’m not hands-on with Azure myself, I did get involved in the business and community-part of the Azure world. Many of our customers for the companies I worked for in the past, are successfully onboarded to Microsoft Azure (by my colleagues 😊) and many of the community activities I do, are for Azure-related happenings. Also, in my private life I love and live with an absolute Azure-guru at home, who dreams, talks, thinks Azure all day long 😉 Since we share our home office, I can almost take over his Azure talks and demos I’m listening to every day, including weekends 😛 Because Azure never sleeps!
What would you recommend for those wanting to learn Azure?
I’d highly recommend following the Microsoft Learn Azure learning paths and modules, these are clear step-by-step documents and videos to support you on your learning journey. I’m also going through the paths and I’m really enjoying seeing familiar faces from the Cloud Advocate team, who created the learning path videos.
What’s your advice for someone who wants to become a public speaker but not confident, or not sure where to start?
I’m a living example of that person. Speaking in public would literarily make me sick, stressed and give me sleepless nights. But as a conference organizer presenting welcome notes and closing notes in front of large audiences, I had to overcome that fear. My advice would be to ask an ally for the first time you are presenting, to co-present with you. This was really helpful to me, to have someone with lots of experience on stage to present together. This made me feel more comfortable and confident on stage at the start.
How do you overcome your nervousness when presenting in front of a large audience? It must be difficult, any tips?
Yes, absolutely don’t listen to the tip “imagine everyone in the audience is naked” because that I really never understood how it can be helpful! 😂 My basic tips I would give you, ensure you are well-prepared and think of the most basic things to start with. Are the clothes you wear comfortable, do you have enough water in case your mouth gets dry, and speaking of dry, do a dry run of your session. Ensure you are well prepared, test your demos, have someone else review your slides for an extra pair of eyes, and mostly, have fun!
How did you become an MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional)?
I’ve always worked closely with MVPs in both my professional work and community activities, however I never ever considered myself as a potential candidate to receive this amazing award. I always thought it’s a technical program where I don’t fit in as a non-techy. Then one day, it was fellow Microsoft MVP Luise Freese who wrote me, “Isi, have you ever considered joining the program?” and from here on our conversations started. Luise showed me the beauty of the program in a different day light and triggered my interest, leading to another surprising nomination hitting my inbox from MVP Kenny Lowe! I summed up my community activities and realized, wow how many amazing opportunities I had in the past few years to contribute and to help others. I think that’s the key to becoming an MVP, it’s not just about YOU and the title, it’s about how YOU as a person help and uplift others. If you keep doing that, and you have a dream to become a Microsoft MVP, then keep sharing your passion for and with Microsoft technologies and the people in the community. Then one day, you can potentially receive that magical “congratulations” email on the 1st day of a new month 😊
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Yes, I will end this very shortly. Is it too cheesy if I end with “YOLO???”
Just kidding, but I do mean it, life is so short and time flies by. Especially now in COVID-times I have learned what it’s like not to be able anymore to do the things we love and enjoy (like travel…conferences etc…) So whatever it is today or tomorrow, always enjoy and cherish life, family, love, your friends and this amazing community ❤
End of interview
Name: Isidora Katanic
Website: Isidora Katanic
Social media platforms:
LinkedIn: Isidora Katanic | LinkedIn
YouTube: Head in the Cloud, Heart in the Community – YouTube