Microsoft Regional Directors are independent technology enthusiasts who engage in dealing with and evangelising one or more of Microsoft technologies in a particular region. It may sound like they are someone who are on the payroll of Microsoft, but that is not the case. Just like Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, Microsoft Student Partners or Microsoft Student Associates, they are members of a Microsoft program.
Microsoft Regional Director Program
Microsoft MVPs are selected based on their contributions towards a specific technology and are not bound by location. Unlike Microsoft MVPs, Microsoft Regional Directors are independent developers, trainers or professionals who form a vital link between Microsoft and the developer community.
A Regional Director typically is an expert who focuses on software development tools and technologies, whereas a Microsoft MVP can be experts in any of the numerous Microsoft software and services – like Windows for instance.
He/She could be an expert whose contributes in a particular region, creating a powerful impact in their technical community. RDs also provide valuable feedback to Microsoft on emerging technologies and are invited to seminars and conferences to speak about technologies of their expertise.
Regional Directors represent the best of the Microsoft Developer Community. While we come together in a Microsoft program we work on all platforms and technologies. We believe, however, in Microsoft’s commitment to the developer community and we work directly with the company to help enhance their products and bring the market the best of technology innovation.
During their 2 year term, RDs are expected to engage with the developer community as well as Microsoft customers. This could take the form of Training, delivering talks, speaking engagements, as well as writing books, articles, etc.
How to become Microsoft Regional Director
There is no simple or straight forward method to become a Microsoft Regional Director. You cannot apply to become a RD or Regional Director. The development evangelist of an area recommends a person to his or her immediate superior mentioning the qualities, contributions and achievements of that person. Based on the recommendations, Microsoft selects the Regional Director.
Thus, to become a Microsoft Regional Director, you have to be visibly active in different areas of technologies. You must be contributing towards promoting and creating an awareness of Microsoft technologies and must be helping out people in using those technologies properly. Involvement in other Microsoft programs and completion of Microsoft Certifications could be an added benefit.
This could be brought to the attention of the Regional Development Evangelist or the Manager of the Microsoft Regional Director program whose work includes identification of people who are contributing to different technologies and hold a good position in a Microsoft region of development.
The best method to become Microsoft Regional Director is to keep on contributing to different conferences, delivering talks, technical presentations and lectures at various fora and technical platforms, and let the Regional Development Evangelist know about the work you have done. This won’t guarantee that you will be made a Regional Director – but a passion for Microsoft technologies and your efforts at evangelising them can definitely raise your chances!
Adds Dr Nitin Paranjpe, a newly appointed RD:
I have been conferred the title of Microsoft Regional Director recently. It is a misnomer, neither have I become a Microsoft employee nor do I get any remuneration.
RD is a small group of around 140 people globally. I don’t really know the selection criteria.
However, unlike the MVP program, it is not product driven. MVPs engage and work with people in their area of expertise. Usually this means IT Pros and Developers.
RDs on the other hand have a dual interface. Their opinions are actively monitored and discussed internally within Microsoft.
On the other hand, RDs also engage with decision makers from customer side. Microsoft utilizes their expertise and experience in key technology as well as strategic decisions. Customers find interacting with RDs useful as an independent and knowledgeable mentor.
From what I have understood so far, RDs are not really worried about the ground level hands-on stuff. Their focus is to ensure that the technology is used in an effective manner, on a sustained basis and is utilized fully to deliver business benefits. Yes, I know that sounds like some copy pasted management jargon. But trust me – in spite of having so many technically superb minds on the planet, hardly any technology is optimally and fully utilized.
What does that mean? Vendors are spending billions in creating a plethora of features. Customers on the other hand do not even know about these. This is a waste of resources on a global scale.
RDs can help bridge this gap.
See the list of all the current RDs here and here.