vExpert and an end of an era

Today, Feb 12, 2021, I am proud to announce my 11th consecutive year of being awarded the vExpert designation.

Yesterday the official announcement came out from Corey at VMware and my Twitter feed couldn’t keep up with all the #vExpert posts. I’m immensely honoured and humbled to receive the award again but also for the many friends in the community that liked my tweet, over 60 of you at the current count, thank you!

The VMware community truly is unique, I can’t count how many great folks I’ve met through it over the years and how much help and support I’ve received from it and them.

One of the advantages of being a VMUG leader was the opportunity to meet all the executives – many of whom I already knew from my time at VMware – but will always remember meeting Pat back in 2012 at the vExpert party in San Francisco. It was his first VMworld and vExpert party as VMware CEO and I was determined to let him know about the London VMUG and our community and how welcome he’d always be to visit (never happened unfortunately!) My co-leader Simon Gallagher took this picture of me accosting Pat! He doesn’t look too impressed, does he?!

Every year Pat would attend the vExpert parties and VMUG leader lunches and ALWAYS took the time to speak to as many people that he could. As his VMUG farewell video expresses, so many selfies, high fives and hugs!

Here’s one of my many selfies with him at the 2015 VMUG leader lunch – he looks slightly happier to be in my company in this picture!

Today marks the day Pat departs as VMware CEO and – although he never made it to a UK or London VMUG! – it’s a sad day for us, but I want to wish him well for his return to Intel now as their leader and to say “Thanks Pat” for being a CEO that truly recognises and understands the power of community. Au revoir Pat!

I’m getting broadband!

I have to share this with those of you that have followed my broadband struggles. Finally, after 17 years, I will be getting ultrafast broadband December 12th! I know, amazing huh?!

When we first moved to this property, we just naturally assumed we’d have broadband. Never assume – as it makes an ass out of you and me!! After discovering we couldn’t get it, I ordered HomeHighway from BT – effectively ISDN. After a couple of years, however, BT determined this service was no longer viable for them as a business, because everyone could get broadband. Not us though!

As we’re 11km from the exchange it was technically impossible to get a signal that far down the copper. So, despite BT sales people continually telling me it would work, we went for a satellite service. This was definitely an improvement on HomeHighway but the latency was a big issue for services such as VoIP and online gaming. My poor boys were playing some friends online and thought they’d shot them whereas in actuality they’d been shot due to the latency!

Having endured this service for many years and appearing on various local TV and radio stations to berate both BT and the Government about the lack of service for rural communities – despite being only 10 mins drive from junction 8/9 of the M4 – we adopted mobile broadband from EE. This service, when performing at his best, provided a 30MB download and 8MB upload – more than adequate and more than the Government USO of 10MB. However, living in a communications black hole has meant that at various times the signal isn’t great and over time even this service has degraded, despite many calls to EE tech support.

We were to get “superfast” rural broadband through the SuperFast Berkshire initiative – whereby they got money from the Government to roll out broadband to rural areas. However, they first awarded the contract to ….. yes, you guessed it…… BT. And BT were not interested in a small hamlet of 9 properties, so we were never ‘top of the list’. Further campaigning gave way to SuperFast Berkshire re-awarding the rural part of the contract to Gigaclear – our saviours!

About a year ago we registered our interest on their website that resulted in a while ago them laying the infrastructure down our little lane to enable FTTH. We’ve had to wait a while to get connected to the circuit, but today I received a call to say my installation will take place on December 12th!

Patience has never been my strong point, but after 17 years waiting for broadband I will very soon have a 300MB service – not because I need it but because I want it. I will be opening a bottle of champers to celebrate finally entering the 21st century!

UK VMUG Virtual UserCon – November 24, 2020

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged….. Although work carries on as usual – I’ve always worked from home since setting up hiviz-marketing – nothing has inspired me to put ‘pen to paper’!

With the first ever virtual UserCon in the UK coming up, however, I did want to quickly blog about this important event and the agenda.

As ever, the committee has come up with a fab line up of speakers and subject matter experts for your continued learning and enjoyment! It’s great to see that even being a virtual event, the keynote will be delivered, as usual, by VMware EMEA CTO, Joe Baguley, entitled VMware 2021 and Beyond, that starts at 09.20.

This year’s closing keynote is to be delivered by Mr. EUC himself, Brian Madden at 15.40, but no title on the agenda, so intrigued as to what Brian will be discussing.

As always, there are sponsor sessions, along with a couple of ten minute tech talks interspersed during the day as well as a gamut of VMware presos, delivered by the likes of Cormac Hogan, Robbie Jerrom, Matt Coppinger, Katherine Skilling and more!

Make sure you register here to secure your spot! The agenda can be found here too. I’ve already registered, but not yet had info on joining the virtual event, but look forward to seeing everyone on the 24th!


VMworld – other virtual events are available

This post follows on from one I wrote at the start of lockdown

During lockdown and the pandemic, I’ve attended a number of virtual events – ranging from using Zoom to a full-blown conference ‘type’ platform. My experience of all of them vary considerably but my overall thought is that you really get out of these events what you put into them, despite how good (or bad) the platform is. What I mean by this is that if you attended an IRL conference or event, and you hadn’t organised your schedule in advance or set up meetings, you’d end up wandering the halls aimlessly. Likewise, if you’ve not done your research about the focus of the event and which sessions you can dip in and out of, you might miss something important to you and/or your job role.

I admit it is harder to stay focused and engaged just looking at your computer screen, but if you’re dis-engaged then you’re going to miss out big time!

One of the first virtual events I attended was the London VMUG back in April. It was held over Zoom but was still a very interactive event and having been in lockdown for over a month, boy was it good to see some familiar faces! Just given my passion for all things VMUG, I’d rate this event a nine out of ten.

The next one was the UK Citrix User Group (UKCUG). Their first attempt at a virtual event was first on Go To Meeting, when they realised they had an attendee limitation, they switched to Zoom, but that caused a bit of a kerfuffle in getting everyone logged in but then proceeded OK but was not a great experience over all as everyone was unprepared for the interruption. However, their event outsourcer then instigated a virtual event platform and I’ve now attended two on this virtual platform, which is a great platform from CrowdComms that allows for great interaction and is a solid platform. Their autumn meeting was held just the other week and I’d rate the overall experience as an eight out of ten.

I simultaneously attended another virtual event during the CUG, it was an NHS virtual event that one of my clients, Droplet Computing, sponsored. Well, the platform was shocking! During the event I tweeted the organisers to tell them to look at another platform (CrowdComms in fact) and their response was at least an understanding they needed to change! When delegates can’t login in to sessions they want to attend, when the sound quality is poor, when presentations don’t display, it makes for a very bad experience. My rating is a harsh, but fair, one out of ten for this event.

However, I’ve saved the best to last……. VMworld. Wow! I can only imagine the hard work and effort that went on behind the scenes to make this online event so slick, so professional, so effortless. Kudos to the whole team that staged this event. The platform – despite my shitty internet – never went down, the quality was just superb. Also, being able to have a ‘private’ concert in my own home by John Legend was awesome! I couldn’t fault it, so it gets a ten out of ten.

I long for the day when we can have face to face events again, but in the meantime, if you’re looking to stage an online event, please use VMworld as your benchmark – anything less and you’ll be letting your audience/delegates down.

Stay safe and well my friends!

vExpert Applications Open Monday!


The second round of applications open June 1st and close on June 20th, with the announcement of the awards on July 17th. There’ll be many social media posts about encouraging submissions with advice on what to focus your application on. I want to cover in this post my own personal experience and journey of being a vExpert for my tenth consecutive year. I hope you enjoy the read and find some tips or encouragement for your own submission.

Back in 2010 I become a leader of the London and UK VMUG. In 2011 an industry friend, Tom Howarth, suggested I apply to become a vExpert as the other members of the committee were designated vExperts for their contribution to the community. (Tom was one of the original first minted vExperts back in 2009 – it was a very select group back then of around only 300!) I hadn’t even contemplated applying, as I’m not super technical and only a mere Fusion user. But with Tom’s encouragement I submitted an application and, in doing so, realised how much time and effort I was contributing to the community in my role as a VMUG leader.

My application was successful as has been my subsequent 9 applications, culminating in this being my tenth consecutive year as a vExpert. No longer a VMUG leader, my contribution now isn’t as ‘visible’ as before, but I am still involved with VMUG as a member and supporter of my local group and the UK national yearly event. I have helped other groups secure sponsors, given my extensive network of vendor community contacts. I’ve also spoken at the national UK VMUG events. Whilst my contribution can never be technical, I’ve spoken about getting the most out of social media and also your own personal brand. Both subjects can certainly help in attaining the coveted vExpert accolade. And I’ve been on the selection committee for the VMUG Board of Director submissions.

As you can see, there are many ways to take part – it’s not just about technical blog posts. It’s about contributing and giving back to the VMware community. And the community is unique! I’ve been involved in other user groups and there is always a passion and dedication to the relevant technology. But I can honestly say the VMware community is unparalleled in its fervent commitment to the platform. Over the years I’ve made many contacts, some of which are now great friends. But what I’ve enjoyed most about ‘being involved’ is seeing the progression of some of those friends in their respective careers. Witnessing how being part of the VMware – and VMUG in particular – community has helped to elevate their visibility and resulted in fantastic career opportunities, some within VMware itself.

My involvement with VMware started back in 2002 when I joined as VMware EMEA’s Marketing Director. My involvement now is very much on the ‘periphery’ but I still have that undiluted passion and dedication to the company and its solutions. Being recognised as a VMware vExpert is something I’m very proud of for many reasons, but the two main ones are: I’m one of a few female vExperts and possibly the least technical one!

As the program has grown exponentially since its inception in 2009, some have argued its ‘exclusivity’ has been diluted. But, firstly, it is NOT exclusive but inclusive and, secondly, to address those concerns VMware has instigated specialist tiers (the sub programs), including NSX and EUC. So, as ever, the community speaks and VMware listens and actions!!

So, what are you waiting for! Put your submission together and apply here:

If you’re in need of support or advice prior to applying, you can contact a vExpert PRO who will help and guide you. You can see a list of them here:

Good luck!