Sarah Young Interview

Sarah Young resides in New Zealand. She is currently a Senior Azure Security Program Manager at Microsoft. She has worked in Tech for around 10 years. Sarah is also the co-owner of a twice weekly Azure Security Podcast hosted alongside @marksimos, @Michael_howard and @cyber_batgirl. Sarah was very helpful and keen to help share her experiences when I first approached her. She has a busy schedule but was very supportive and helped by fitting this interview in for us. Let’s move onto Sarah’s interview and find out more.

Note: If you have any questions or feedback, please use the comment box towards the end of the interview. All comments are reviewed before we approve and notify the interviewee. Thanks

Tell us about yourself?
My name is Sarah Young and I’m a Senior Program Manager in Azure Cloud + AI Security. I’m based in Wellington, New Zealand and have been working in tech for around 10 years. I have a very good-looking Shiba inu dog called Grayson who gets much more attention than me when we’re out together!

What is your greatest achievement whilst working in the world of Tech?
I’ve been fortunate to have been able to travel to many different countries for work, and I’ve also lived in three different countries due to my work in tech, which is pretty cool!

How did you get into IT?
I’ve been interested in tech since I was very little. I copied my Dad changing processor interrupts to make the sound on the game I wanted to play work when I was about 7. I think that was a giveaway that I might have an aptitude for technology!

What is it like working at Microsoft?
Microsoft is a great place to work! Even though my team is remote and spread across the globe, I still regularly connect with my team mates online. You’ll probably know that Microsoft’s goal is to improve the world with technology, and people who work at Microsoft really do live those values every day.

What would you recommend for anyone wanting to start a career in IT?
I actually took a History degree when I went to university (much to the disappointment of my IT teachers at the time) but ended up in tech anyway. Obviously this might change a little bit depending on precisely where you are in your career, but the advice I’d give to everyone is that there are lots of free resources online to help build your tech skills and many open source projects you can get involved in, and when you’re just starting out in your career/a student/etc. try to use those resources as best you can rather than spending $1000s that you might not necessarily have!

How did you get into the world of Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft approached me about a role a few years ago. I’d been working in cloud security for a number of years prior and they asked if I’d be interested in interviewing for an Azure Security Architect role. I got the role, and focused on the entire suite of Azure security products such as Azure Security Center, Azure Sentinel, Azure WAF, Azure Firewall, etc.

What are your areas of expertise? Are you still working with other Microsoft products apart from Microsoft Azure?
I’m an Azure person through and through! Whilst I do work with other Microsoft products on the periphery, my main focus has always been Azure.

We have noticed from your Twitter profile that you specialize in Azure Security? Could you please explain what your role involves with Azure Security?
My technical focus at Microsoft is Azure security products – in particular Azure Sentinel – and I work with Microsoft customers to remove technical blockers for deployment and report back to the Azure Sentinel product group on new features requested by our customers.

What would you recommend for businesses looking into Azure Security? Where should they start to ensure their following best practices?
We have many sources online that you can look at. In particular, I’d recommend the Azure security documentation page Security documentation and Azure Security Best Practices

What certifications have you achieved, or the certifications you are working towards? Do you get to attend and take lots of exams at Microsoft?
Just this week I passed by Certified Cloud Security Professional exam (CCSP), so I’ll be taking a well-deserved break from exams for a while! Earlier this year I also took the AZ-500 Azure Security exam that Microsoft offers.

We noticed from your Twitter profile that you are a co-host for Azure Security Podcast. Could you please provide details and what these talks cover?
It’s a twice-monthly podcast dedicated to Security, Privacy, Compliance and Reliability on the Microsoft Cloud Platform. Hosted by myself and my colleagues Michael Howard, Gladys Rodriguez and Mark Simos, we invite a special guest each episode to talk about their speciality in security – we’ve covered topics as diverse as CosmosDB to Confidential Computing, to Kubernetes and containers to Azure Security Benchmarks. Definitely worth a listen if you’re interested in the Microsoft security space!

What would you recommend for someone wanting to start an Azure related Podcast? Do you need to know everything about the subject you’re talking about?
No, you don’t need to know everything, and I’m no expert on podcasts, but I guess it’s a good idea to have a USP (unique selling point) for your podcast to make people listen!

What would you recommend for those wanting to learn to start a journey into Microsoft Azure? Where is a good place to start?
You can learn the Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) curriculum for free and online, so I would certainly start there – Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals  

How do you keep up to date with the latest Microsoft Azure products?
Plenty of hands on with the Azure platform and talking directly to our product engineering groups (that’s part of my role, I may well have contributed to some of the documentation about new features/products that you have read!)

Do you have any final words of wisdom?
You can’t know everything in tech, so don’t feel bad about that. Focus on things that interest you (which can change over time) and see where the endless opportunities take you!

The most important question of all 😊
From a scale from 1 – 10 how crazy are you about Microsoft Azure?

Clearly, I must be an 11! End of interview

Name: Sarah Young
Twitter: @_sarahyo
Linkedin: Sarah Young Linkedin
Azure Security Podcast: Azure Security Podcast
Azure Security Podcast Twitter: @AzureSecPod

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