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Quarter one update! Exams, running and more

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Covid, Non-Profits & Exams #

The dawn of 2022 marked a challenging chapter in my life as both my partner and I tested positive for Covid-19, a stark reminder of the ongoing pandemic’s impact. Remarkably, despite the heightened risk due to Emma’s frontline work in the NHS on a respiratory ward, we had managed to avoid the virus for nearly 18 months. However, the year did not commence on an auspicious note, as we found ourselves in a 10-day isolation period during the first working week of January.

Thankfully, my encounter with Covid-19 resulted in only mild symptoms, with the fever proving to be the most discomforting aspect, fluctuating between feeling like I was burning up or encased in an icy igloo. Following my recovery from the virus, I experienced a remarkable improvement in my well-being and embarked on a journey to enhance my knowledge of Microsoft 365, with a particular focus on preparing for the challenging MS-101 Exam.

My initiation into the world of Microsoft 365 began during the initial lockdown period, culminating in my successful completion of the MS-500 exam, which delved into security and compliance aspects. This achievement served as the foundation for my pursuit of the Administrator Expert credential, an accolade that adorns my professional profile on my website and LinkedIn.

While I had successfully conquered the MS-100 exam at the close of 2021, I set my sights on conquering MS-101 early in the new year. My exam date was locked in for January 28th. Gratefully, my hands-on experience with Microsoft 365 proved to be an invaluable asset in my preparation. Throughout my career, including my tenure at Shaping Cloud, I had the privilege of working extensively on the Microsoft 365 platform, honing my expertise in areas such as Mobile Device Management and the fundamental principles of Microsoft 365 security.

I harbored some doubts about my chances of passing MS-101 on the first attempt, given my relatively brief revision period of around four weeks and the inherent challenge of Microsoft’s exam question construction, which can sometimes be deceptively tricky. I have dedicated myself to the world of Microsoft 365 for approximately 6-7 years, with my recent focus on the Intune aspect providing a substantial advantage in mastering MS-101. In the end, I am immensely gratified to have successfully achieved this milestone, reaffirming my confidence in my professional capabilities and demonstrating my aptitude for conquering “expert” level Microsoft Exams.

The Standing Tall Foundation - M365 Non-profit licensing #

Following on the Microsoft 365 route, I have been working with a local non-profit, to help them with any IT needs, and specifically get them using the Microsoft 365 platform in the best way possible. I started working with the foundation in 2021, with the possibility of getting the foundation the non-profit licensing from Microsoft. The foundation worked really hard on achieving their goals of helping the local community in Merseyside, as well as applying for official registered charity status, which allows them to apply for the non-profit licensing.

The Standing Tall Foundation promote the mental and physical health of all community groups, through the provision of counselling, addiction support and physical activity initiatives.

In early January, Standing Tall Foundation achieved their registered charity status and I started the process with Microsoft to gain the non-profit licensing. The whole process was relatively straight forward, I signed up to the non-profit portal and filled out the relevant forms for the foundation. A few days later, we received an email from Microsoft showing that the Foundation could use M365’s non-profit licensing for 10 users also a $2000 spend on Azure, impressive! It was good to help standing tall with migrating them to M365 and now running their charity with the use of modern-day technologies on the M365 platform. After this, I have been intrigued into seeing what else Microsoft offer to non-profits, and how non-profits could utilise the cloud.

Visit the Microsoft Non-Profit Portal here: Microsoft Non Profit Portal

St Helens 10k & fundraising for charity #

Late last year, I decided to sign up to the St Helens 10k run. I’ve always enjoyed running, and more recently been doing 5-10k runs almost three times a week. Running in an organised event always put some doubt in my mind in whether I could actually run that far, or would look silly in doing so.

On the day of the 10k, the atmosphere was great before the start of the run. It was the first time since before the pandemic that the event could be ran, previous years during the pandemic were “virtual 10ks”. I think everyone who participated was just happy to be there again.

I’ve never ran the route that the St Helens 10k uses, so I was unsure on what id think of running up the notorious North Road. I tend to run a 5k in around 25-30 minutes, so anything close to 55 minutes for a 10k run, I would have been made up. When I ran through the St Helens rugby stadium at the final 100-200 metres of the run, I was shocked to see that I had run the 10k in just over 50 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised with myself, and it felt great to be given the St Helens 10k T Shirt & Medal. View my stats below:

Overall, I thought the run was great, and next time I will try and run the event for a charity. I am going to keep up with my running and hopefully do some more events in the future.

As well as St Helens 10k, Shaping Cloud also ran a fundraising event for Manchester & Cheshire Dogs Homes, which was to collectively walk or run 388 miles, which is essentially Cardiff to Wakefield in the UK and back again. It was good to have an event like this to make sure I kept up with some training for St Helens 10k as well.

Something I’ve found in the past 11 or so months at Shaping Cloud is that they look after their employees as best as possible, with the monthly socials we as well as wellbeing events like this, great when everyone is working remotely.

Looking ahead into the next quarter of the year #

So, I apologise if this post is a long one! I have been aiming to post on here at least once a week, but at times I’ve found it hard to come up with ideas for new posts, whether that is technology based or not. So hopefully you will see more posts on here in the next few months. I have been doing a lot of work with the M365 platform as of late, hopefully that continues as I feel that’s the platform, I have the most confidence with.

But now I want to focus studying back on Azure, and specifically IAC (Infra-as-code) with Terraform. I have played about with Terraform in the past, but never got to use it consistently. The Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework is a great place to learn Terraform as well. My Ex-colleague and friend Andrei Pavlitchouk is launching his own course on Cloud Adoption Framework and Terraform. Check out Andrei’s introduction video here:

Id love to have the Terraform certification badge on my site as well. Alongside Terraform, I at renewing my AZ-104, as well as potentially going for the Expert level architect exam as well.
So, I hope you have enjoyed this quick overview of the past few months of my life in Tech as well as outside of tech as well. I am hoping to post a lot more on here about the things ive been working on in my career as well as some other helpful guides on M365, Cloud or anything tech,



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