Steve Rea Interview

Steve Rea (Aka Rev), located in the United States, is a Microsoft Business Program Manager and an Azure Technical Trainer. He has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) for 15 years and soon to be 16 years in November 2020. Steve currently focuses on a few well know Azure Products including Azure Active Directory, Security Center and Azure Sentinel. When Steve was approached for an interview he was quick in responding and keen to share his experiences with us. Let’s move on and find our more about Steve.

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Steve Rea Interview

Tell us about yourself?
Steve Rea, Microsoft Business Program Manager | Azure Technical Trainer. I live in Chattanooga, TN (United States) and have been in IT for around 25 years overall. I am an avid hardware tinkerer and one of my favourite projects I built a few years ago was a 1980s Teddy Ruxpin that I hardware hacked into a functional Amazon Echo.

What is your greatest achievement whilst working in the world of Tech?
I think for me one of my greatest achievements in tech is building a comprehensive disaster recovery solution for a major credit card company while working at AT&T for a 65,000 seat Global SharePoint installation.

How did you get into IT?
I always had a passion for technology and when I went to college, I learned my passion was not in code specifically. For me I learned while taking a class in Borland C+ 5.02 that application development was not my area of focus. So I went into infrastructure and information security.

Most techies would love to work for Microsoft. What is it like working at Microsoft? And what does your role involve?
Microsoft is a great place to work. I have a great team and my role as a Technical Trainer allows me to connect with our customers to share my experiences and knowledge in and out of the cloud.

How did you get into the world of Microsoft Azure?
I was recruited when this team was built. I have made Microsoft Technologies a forefront of my career from the start but when this role began, I was working at Amazon Web Services at the time. I had worked for Microsoft Previously but had not had nearly as much Azure specific cloud-based knowledge at that time.

What are your areas of expertise? What products are you currently working on at Microsoft?
Azure Active Directory, Security Center and Azure Sentinel are the three areas outside of infrastructure I focus on at the moment.

What certifications have you achieved, or the certifications you are working towards?
In Microsoft I have the Azure Fundamentals, Azure Administrator and Security Certifications as well as the Microsoft Fundamentals and Data Fundamentals. I am still waiting on my AZ-303-304 exams to get out of beta for those to be graded. In AWS I have The Cloud Practitioner, SysOps and Cloud Solution Architect. Beyond that I am a Microsoft Certified Trainer and have several other Microsoft and Industry certifications (70 or so)

What would you recommend for those wanting to learn Azure?
This is not an easy question to answer as it really depends on the individual’s area of focus. But always start with the AZ-900 (Fundamentals and from there if you’re infrastructure move into AZ-104 or if you’re a developer look at AZ-204

What’s your advice for someone who wants to become a public speaker but not confident, or not sure where to start?
The best thing one can do to prepare to speak is to practice in front of people they know (even small audience of one of two) because practicing in front of a mirror, while beneficial does not truly allow one to ascertain their abilities. Also I’d recommend someone look at Toastmasters if they feel they might need a support group of professional individuals who are dedicated to assist you in your goals to speak in public.

How did you become a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)?
This is a funny(ish) story. Back in 2004 I was attending an MCSE BootCamp for Windows Server 2003 as I needed to become certified to help my career goals at the time. About half way though the bootcamp I thought to myself, “I could do this!” So I papered the internet with my resume and a little New Horizons location in Greensboro, NC took a chance on me and sponsored my first MCT (celebrating my 16th year as an MCT this November 2020)

How do you keep up to date with the latest Microsoft Azure products? First off, I don’t. LOL But as much as one can I follow our RSS feeds and even have a logic app that I use to post Azure Updates to my own twitter feed. I also follow Azure MVPs on twitter, etc. But in the end I miss things as the speed of the cloud seemingly is faster than the speed of light!

What’s next in your Microsoft Azure journey?
AZ-400! While I’m not a developer I am very much a coder in the sense for SysOps and Infrastructure as Code. Also, I work with our content team to help develop content. For example, I helped build our Azure for AWS SysOps (AZ-010) Course and I’m hoping to also work on some of the upcoming changes tour security courses.

What would you recommend for someone who wants to start a career in IT?
Find your passion and find your niche. In the end we’re a plentiful resource but if you find something you really like you’ll pour yourself into it with a drive that allows you to grow in a way that usually allows you to stand out. Do not just become another It Swiss Army Knife.

Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Learn to work with a collaboration and growth mindset, but more importantly be replaceable. While I know the later comment seemingly sounds counter intuitive it really is not. If you cross train others to do your work it frees you to move around as well as upward in an organization. If you are the ONLY one who can do your job it’s rather hard to take a vacation and progress in your career. Work/life balance is an absolute key.

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

I would say 9. I am honestly rather agnostic and when someone asks me if a certain thing in AWS or Azure is better (on competing technologies) I will give them my honest opinion regardless of who I am working for. That said I really do love Azure!

More about Steve
The nickname “rev” was coined by one of my close friends almost 20 years ago after I volunteered to obtain an online ordination to perform a wedding for a couple I knew personally. This witty little joke calling him “The Rev” quickly became simply “rev” and eventually stuck with me even into his profession because if you yell Steve at a convention 5000 people turn around but if you yell “REV!” likely the audience is smaller…it’s either myself or Run, from RunDMC. Prior to my experience in the Information Technology Field I spent time in East Tennessee as a Disc Jockey for a Top-40 [CHR] Radio Station. I additionally spent time touring the East Coast as an Improvisational Comic which is likely why I tell a lot of “dad jokes” during my classes.

End of interview

Name: Steve Rea
Twitter: @acloudsteve

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