Kelly Broekstra, MVP

January 22, 2024

It’s not hard to see why Kelly has been recognised as a Microsoft Most Valued Professional, as she did last week. I think everyone who meets her understands right away the leadership she provides within the data community. And given that her technical expertise is also very high, people have often assumed that she’s been awarded for a long time.

The MVP award is very different to most statuses that people can have with Microsoft. It’s not a certification that can be achieved by passing exams, or like the partner program that requires a financial payment and a commitment to selling Microsoft products. The MVP award is a recognition for community involvement and technical leadership. It’s about serving and influencing regular people who are trying to do their best with Microsoft technologies. MVPs are often found leading user groups, answering questions in online forums, presenting at conferences, mentoring people, and generally being helpful and influential. No money changes hands, and in fact, if people are only serving the community because it’s part of their job, then they’re much less likely to be awarded. There is no threshold of community activity that must be achieved to qualify for the MVP award. Microsoft has to notice what the person is doing, and consider whether they exemplify the right values. The amount they contribute is a factor, but the technical expertise and the influence they wield is typically more significant.

Being recognised as an MVP is an honour. There are just 15 current MVPs in the Data Platform space across the whole of Australia. About 350 in the world. It’s a big honour. There are many people who strive for MVP status but never quite manage it. A lot of it is about the kind of person you are on the inside. Whether you’re a leader, a servant, an expert.

Kelly oozes leadership in every part of her life. Whether it’s stepping up to lead the Melbourne Data Platform User Group when its previous leader needed to move on, or the work she does in her Australian Air Force cadets’ unit, she not only leads, but she develops leaders, raising the standard of those around her. She has been part of business leadership groups, part of Microsoft’s Women Rising group, and of course for many years now she has been the General Manager at LobsterPot Solutions as well as providing excellent consulting to our customers in the analytics space.

The process for becoming a Microsoft MVP is an interesting one. I’ve often considered that if this award is something you’re trying to achieve, you’re less likely to get there. The key is to focus on serving the community through being the leader you are, letting your technical skills show, and having a heart for seeing the world improve. As technology experts in the Microsoft space, there is a lot of opportunity for improving the world individually, but change happens through enabling other people. A lot of technical leadership is actually pastoral in nature. Caring for people, lifting them up, seeing them achieve more of their potential – that’s the kind of community leadership that can impact the world.

Kelly has been exhibiting the attributes of an MVP for a long time. The award reflects who she already is. She hasn’t had to strive to become an MVP, she has simply been herself.

The harder part was to persuade her to accept a nomination for the award.

As you can imagine, Kelly is a busy person. She has a lot of commitments outside what she does within LobsterPot Solutions, and she is very aware that MVPs tend to wonder if they’ve done enough to be re-awarded each year. There are always people who don’t get re-awarded, even though they seem to be making the right kind of influence, so many MVPs try to cram in a bunch more ‘community activity’ early in the calendar year. The criteria for being awarded is naturally subjective – I don’t think it would be appropriate to try to measure influence and leadership – but there is a “tell us what you’ve done” step, which can feel quite awkward when you’re humble like Kelly. Her busyness in the rest of life has made her reluctant to add to her commitments for the sake of an award. She’s needed other community people to help persuade her that being an MVP is supposed to recognise who you are, rather that build expectations on you for the future.

Naturally, we’re stoked for her to accept this award, and have told her it’s well deserved.

Because it really is.

Well done, Kelly. You’re a natural fit for the MVP award.


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