Christopher Mank’s recognition January 1, 2016 as a Microsoft MVP confirmed what his colleagues already know: from the day he joined Concurrency, Christopher drew on his values and work ethic to learn and contribute at every opportunity. Christopher, a Systems Architect, was named a Microsoft MVP in the category of Cloud and Datacenter Management. Concurrency is home to 10 MVPs, the largest concentration in North America.
Career Foundations and Progress
Christopher joined Concurrency in 2012 as a Systems Engineer after gaining IT experience in corporate settings. When Christopher joined the firm, he had no awareness of what an MVP was or what it meant to achieve that recognition. But he recalls that he immediately realized he had nearly unlimited opportunity at Concurrency to expand and enhance his skills, and to work with smart people who were willing to help him on his path to success – in life as well as in his career.
At Concurrency, Christopher took full advantage of opportunities and set a goal to not only succeed as a Microsoft engineer but to qualify as an MVP. He sought training and attended conferences. He worked on projects that gave him new and enhanced skills. He joined Microsoft blogs and forums, building code to share with others and engaging in those communities. He became an evangelist for the product group, helping Microsoft build products that solved real problems for people – a key element in awarding MVPs.
One critical turning point in his journey toward MVP status occurred at a Microsoft conference last year. In a closed session with field experts, members of a Microsoft product team solicited feedback on a pre-release product. Christopher spoke up, offering substantive comments that were of genuine use to the product team, which kept engaging him even after the conference concluded. Experiences like these are opportunities to help shape solutions for users worldwide.
All along the way, he had help and support from his coworkers at Concurrency, including Nate Lasnoski, who opened doors and helped him build a plan and a path to a potential MVP award.
Reflections on Success as a Microsoft-focused Consultant
Christopher’s comments in a podcast titled “How to Be a Successful Microsoft Engineer” reveal his approach and perspective on career development, work ethic and achieving success. He views Concurrency as key to that success, a fast-paced but ideal environment to not only be a successful Microsoft engineer, but to achieve career growth and make a difference.
His advice to anyone looking to succeed is to be an asset to your firm. You can’t work just nine to five –you need to be tuned in and aware of what’s happening in your field. And you need to care – about your colleagues, your firm and your industry. Be an anchor for those around you. Those attributes will help you advance your career but also will help you achieve life goals, he believes.
When asked what it takes to be a successful Microsoft engineer, Christopher notes that it used to mean technical skills and experience. While important, that’s not enough anymore. In his view, successful Microsoft engineers – and successful people in general – have these traits in common:
Being adaptive and receptive to change – Christopher uses his experience writing VBScript as an example of this attribute. He spent four years learning it and building a server, just in time for the introduction of Microsoft’s PowerShell platform. He could have chosen to stay with VBScript but realized he needed to move ahead and gain expertise in PowerShell to advance his knowledge and skills.
Contribute positively to the community and society – Successful Microsoft engineers dive into the tech community. They engage in the forums, they answer questions and they provide resources for others who encounter obstacles. That approach applies beyond IT to life in general.
Attitude is everything – IT departments, as well as every other organization, operate on systems built by imperfect people. You can improve the IT community by having a positive rather than a negative outlook, a perspective that applies beyond technology.
Desire to learn – No matter how long you have been in a role or in the industry, it’s imperative to keep learning. New product sets, new platforms – whatever comes along. You can teach people virtually anything, but you can’t teach desire.
“We’re Looking for Superstars”
Christopher reflected on his experience when he interviewed for his first position with Concurrency. He asked what the firm was looking for. The answer: a superstar. He realized Concurrency was offering him the opportunity and experience to grow in the four areas he considers vital to success.
His view of Concurrency at that moment: They help you soar.
Now that he has achieved Microsoft MVP status, Christopher says his perspective has not changed. He just feels blessed to be with the firm.
The feeling is mutual.