Before i begin to introduce Shannon, i just want to mention that i thought it may be difficult obtaining an interview from a Microsoft employee. I was so wrong!! I have had a few Microsoft employees come back to me with positive feedback and VERY keen to help. Shannon was the first Microsoft employee to provide an interview for the AzureCrazy website, and there are more to come.
Shannon was very eager to help and excited about the AzureCrazy idea. I am grateful to all who have taken out personal time to provide interviews to support the Azure community.
Shannon Kuehn (pronounced “Keen”) is a Senior Cloud Advocate at Microsoft. She lives in the Chicago, Illinois metro area within the US and originally a transplant from Nebraska (smack dab in the middle of the United States). She is really proud to be employed at Microsoft as you’ll find out from the interview below.
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Shannon Kuehn Interview
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Shannon Kuehn (pronounced “Keen”) and I’m a Senior Cloud Advocate at Microsoft. I live in the Chicago, Illinois metro area within the US and am originally a transplant from Nebraska (smack dab in the middle of the United States). I am a big foodie and love exploring new restaurants that pop up in the Chicagoland area. I read a lot and enjoy digging deep into books. I also am a music junkie. The only genre I’m not a big fan of is new country.
What is your greatest achievement whilst working in the world of Tech?
I think getting hired at Microsoft became my great “Achievement Unlocked.” Honorable mentions are: When I first achieved the Microsoft Certified Professional designation, when I received my first MCSA (in O365), when I received my first MCSE (Cloud Platform and Infrastructure), when I reached the point of obtaining my Microsoft Certified Trainer designation, and when I received my first VMware certification (VCP 5.5).
How did you get into IT?
I had a not-so-typical journey into IT. I did not go to college for IT (my major was Communication Studies and my minor was English). I started DJing in college and began troubleshooting the connectivity of my mixer into my computer and sound card so I could record demos for promoters. I started tinkering more and more and quickly could troubleshoot a lot of help desk questions. My first technical job came at the age of 26 and didn’t magically fall out of the sky, as I was originally hired on to be an Administrative Assistant. Over the course of my 8.5 years at that firm, I built technical skill by forming great friendships with consultants that came on to help build out the infrastructure I supported and by going to training classes. Once I started learning more and more, I kept evolving and shifting focus as soon as things seemed to be changing (first O365, now Azure).
Most techies would love to work for Microsoft! What is it like working for Microsoft?
It’s amazing! You gain access to learn a lot about a lot of things. You’re incentivized to really learn it all!
What would you recommend for those wanting to work for Microsoft? Where should they start?
The interview loop can be long, so don’t get frustrated if it takes you some time. I think it took me a good solid 6 months of back and forth before I was hired. The Microsoft Careers site is updated regularly with new jobs. Take a peek at what is open and what might make sense for whatever role you’re looking for. Also, if you get selected for an interview, go through the process, and if you aren’t hired…try again. Never give up!
How did you get into the world of Microsoft Azure?
I was working at a Managed Services Provider and migrating a large customer to O365 from on-premises Exchange. My O365/Exchange Online/AAD background made me an interesting candidate for a Microsoft partner (10th Magnitude). I went through an interview loop and wound up getting hired as a consultant in 2016. So, it’s been a little over 4 years with my “head in the cloud.” 😊
What are your areas of expertise? Are you still working with other Microsoft products apart from Microsoft Azure?
I focus a lot on Azure outright: Azure VMware Solution, Azure Monitor, ARM Templates, Azure Governance, Azure Migrate/Azure Site Recovery, Azure Active Directory, etc. Prior to all Azure all the time, I was an Exchange and Active Directory admin, who supported many VMware infrastructure environments.
What certifications have you achieved, or the certifications you are working towards?
I have the alphabet of certifications. I’ll list everything here (P.S. it helps working for a Microsoft partner):
Azure: AZ-900, AZ-102 (bridge exam), AZ-203, AZ-302 (bridge exam), AZ-400, AZ-500. Prior to the role-based certification shift in 2018, I had achieved the following certifications: 70-532, 70-533, 70-534, and 70-535 (earning me my MCSA and MCSE in both Cloud Platform and Infrastructure).
Office 365: 70-346, 70-347 (earning me a MCSA in Office 365)
VMware: VMware Certified Associate – Datacenter Virtualization, VMware Certified Professional 5.5 – Datacenter Virtualization, VMware Certified Professional 6.5 – Datacenter Virtualization
Citrix: CC-XAD-MA – XenApp and XenDesktop Service Integration with Microsoft Azure Certification
EXIN: ITIL v3 Foundation Certifications I’m considering:
HashiCorp Cloud Engineer Certification – Terraform Associate
HashiCorp Cloud Engineer Certification – Vault Associate
MTA: Introduction to Programming Using Python
What would you recommend for those wanting to learn Azure?
The sky is the limit with cloud and especially if code does not create massive anxiety. Find someone in the broader community who has a job you want or might want. Start networking with them to see if they would be willing to offer advice and form some sort of regular cadence as you move towards deeper levels of technical skill. Forming the friendships and networking is just as important as certifications because you start getting exposed to more sides of the proverbial technical coin.
How do you keep up to date with the latest Microsoft Azure products?The Azure Blog, various MVPs who have a lot of great blog content in the broader community, and working at Microsoft.
What would you recommend for someone who wants to become Azure certified?
Certifications are part of your cloud journey. Once you achieve a few of the certifications, you will want to network with the community to find the job that’s built for you. Certifications are half of the equation and regularly get you in the door. The experience outside of the certifications falls within the realm of networking and building your network in the broader community.
What’s your advice for someone who wants to become a public speaker but not confident, or not sure where to start?
Look for a local Microsoft Toastmasters chapter and get involved. It will help you with any hang ups surrounding speaking in public and get you to focus less on fillers like “um” and “uh”.
How did you become a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)?
I have been training customers and people on Azure for the last 4 years. I had a former colleague of mine offer to be a reference and I showcased all the training to Microsoft that I had conducted during the last 4 years.
What’s next in your Microsoft Azure journey?
Finally developing in full. 😊
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Don’t ever give up! We all had to start somewhere and not all of us completely understood all these heady concepts right away. If something is frustrating, take a break, relax, and come back with the right frame of mind to learn more.
I often tell customers and folks in the broader community that if I can do it (meaning Azure), they can do it, too. It’s not rocket science and everything can be dumbed down for better understanding.
The most important question of all 😊
From a scale from 1 – 10 how crazy are you about Microsoft Azure?
It’s way higher than 10. 😉
End of interview