Who Is A Microsoft Regional Director?

Earlier this month, Microsoft awarded me by selecting me as a Regional Director (RD), a prestigious recognition by Microsoft.

Obvious Questions: Do you get paid? Are you a Microsoft employee now? How do you become a regional director?

Let me start by saying this: Microsoft Regional Directors are not Microsoft employees. Microsoft Regional Directors also do not get paid.

Microsoft Regional Directors are the trusted advisors to developers, IT professionals, businesses, and Microsoft. Microsoft RDs work with Microsoft and businesses, gather real-world business insights, and communicate with Microsoft technical product teams and senior leadership.

Think of Microsoft RDs as un-biased evangelists who believe in Microsoft and other products and services and do not shy away from telling Microsoft what is going wrong in the real world. RDs work with businesses, gather real-world insights (mostly problems) and communicate them to Microsoft. From time to time, Microsoft RDs also participate in focus groups, meet senior leadership, and work with Microsoft and its clients on projects and problems.

So, what are the benefits of becoming a Microsoft Regional Director?

RDs get recognition and work closely with Microsoft senior leadership, executives, and product teams to get insights and company direction. RDs also get free access to one or more of Microsoft’s premier events, such as Microsoft Build. RDs also get a chance to speak at various conferences and events.

And how do you become a Microsoft Regional Director?

The Microsoft RD selection process is a secret one. No one knows how it is done. Unlike Microsoft MVPs, there is no contribution criteria. Microsoft employees and existing RDs can nominate a new RD. If I had to guess, some of the qualities Microsoft looks for in RDs are technology and community influence, involvement in emerging Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies, business insights and experience, leadership skills, international speaking experience, authors of books, good social media presence, good followers, and good work and business ethics. Imagine a person about whom Microsoft employees can say – Yea, he works with us.

Here are some of the FAQs from the rd.microsoft.com website.

Do Regional Directors get paid?

No, Regional Directors do not get paid.

Do Regional Directors work for Microsoft?

No, Regional Directors are not employed by Microsoft. In some cases, Regional Directors or their companies may have contracts to deliver goods or services to Microsoft but they are not employees.

How are Regional Directors selected by Microsoft?

Regional Directors are hand-picked by Microsoft based on a rigorous set of evaluations designed to help us select the best representatives of developers, IT pros, and strategic technology needs of the world's most impactful businesses.

How do Regional Directors work with Microsoft?

Regional Directors act in a non-paid advisory capacity with Microsoft. On an ongoing basis, RDs are asked to participate in scheduled strategic feedback sessions with Microsoft senior leadership teams. Because of their community leadership positions, passion, commitment to technology and business excellence, RDs have a regular outlet where they can express real-time customer and community feedback directly with Microsoft engineers and the senior leadership team, including Satya.

I'd like to become a Regional Director and believe I meet the qualifications. Is this possible?

We actively search for amazing leaders. RD nominees come from Microsoft senior-level full-time employees or other RDs. If you have a relationship with either of those you should express your interest. We open up the nominations once a year, typically in January. Usually we have very few available slots and hundreds of candidates but we are continually looking for new leaders to step in.

Do Regional Directors have specific technology expertise?

We like to think of RDs as technology generalists. Most of them have significant technology backgrounds but have progressed their careers to the point where they have architect level depth across both Microsoft and non-Microsoft platforms. This uniquely helps qualify them to work with our product teams to understand the needs of all customers which ultimately helps us build better products.

What is the difference between an RD and an MVP?

Many of our RDs also carry the MVP award title, although most of them are finding it harder to maintain both credentials as each has different demands on the member's time which makes it difficult to qualify and maintain both. However, the key differences really come down to the business consultative nature, customer experience, and cross platform architect skills possessed by RDs versus the deep technical focus which qualifies an MVP.

How long is an RD term?

Microsoft Regional Directors are selected for a two years’ term and evaluated again after two years.

How many RDs are total?

There are about 159 RDs in the world. I believe 53 of them are in the USA.

Learn more about Microsoft Regional Directors here: http://rd.microsoft.com.