Tim Huckaby, CEO of InterKnowlogy, MSDN regional director of the year and guest speaker at Microsoft's TechEd conference in Brisbane talks to Builder AU on this years event and life as a CEO on the road.
Builder AU: Is this your first time at TechEd Australia?
Tim Huckaby: Yes. It's actually an amusing story because my speaking career started at TechEd 99 in Dallas. I was so green and so young. It was my second public presentation and I was chartered to do back to back 1000+ people presentations on Siteserver 3.0. I worked on the product team for Siteserver; I had the highest rated keynote presentation at dev days; all the Siteserver folks were heads down on the commerce server product. So they asked me to develop and deliver a session at TechEd and it went great. I had no idea how great it went. In fact, it wasn't until years later that I found out it was the highest rated session at the conference. Back in those days, the thought of a 3rd party speaker doing so well pissed some folks off I guess. In any event, the owner of TechEd Australia was in the audience. I forget his name. He ran up on stage after it was over and said, -Oh my god, you were so awesome. Will you speak at Tech Ed Australia?!!!" I said, -You are kidding, right? Will you pay for the flight?" He, said, -Absolutely, yes!" Well, you know Microsoft. When push came to shove they didn't have the budget to get me out there and I was bummed. The irony is the story has been the same every year. I'm lead on to believe I'm coming, then I'm let down! So, when Chuck Sterling told me last year that this would be the year I was skeptical. But, I have a flight on Friday and as far as I know I'm coming and I'm very excited. I have many friends in technology over in Australia and they are excited too.
What will you be focusing on telling Australian developers at the event?
Well at my age it's all about architecture. It's all about developer productivity, integration and messaging. I'm doing a couple generic technology presentations (sps2 and sqlnts) and those are awesome technologies with great stories, but I'm very exited about my smart clients presentation. It's a presentation that I've done twice (the Windows Server 2003 launch in Norway and Connections in New Orleans) and both went really really well. I continue to -rev" the content and demos. It is designed for all facets of technologists but especially rings home to application architects. It gets the folks thinking about the future of software development and the infrastructure it's delivered on and puts urgency in the concept of -now is the future".
What are the most common questions developers ask you at developer events like TechEd?
-Where's the party tonight?" or -are you as hung over as me?" Just kidding, developers usually ask me when they should switch to .Net which, as we all know is about a year ago. Another question I get is: -how do I start on learning .Net?". That's tough because people learn differently. Once I nail down how a person learns, I can usually steer them to the right path.
As a CEO how often to do you get your hands dirty in code/developing?
[laughs] Legitimate question. The joke here is that I always say, -I've worked myself into a figure-head position.". I also tell my folks all the time that I'm so jealous of their jobs because their tool is Visual Studio .NET and mine is Outlook. But, you better believe I squeeze my time in at night. The absolute smartest thing I ever did was to hire Gary Dickinson as President of InterKnowlogy to run the -business part of the business." As we grow, I will be working myself more and more into a Bill Gates type of position of the company. I probably should change my title to something silly like the one he took.
How did you win the MSDN director of the year?
I believe you are referencing the -Microsoft regional director of the year award for 2000". I won it through a labour of love and tons of technology evangelism. It was a great honour that I will cherish forever. To be named the guy in that group of incredible people is humbling.
Do you have any other plans outside the event while visiting Australia?
Absolutely. I have many buddies in Australia and New Zealand who I've been promising for years so I'm going to shoot over to the dimension data forum event in Melbourne and speak at their event. Then I go to TechEd in New Zealand and speak at their event. I'm a sports fanatic. So, the most important event I have during the trip is seeing the All Blacks play Australia in rugby. I'm very excited about that.
It says in the Microsoft press material that you are an "International .NET Association Rock Star" speaker. How many events do you speak at per year and how do you keep up as a CEO with your "rock star" lifestyle?
I love the part of my job that facilitates me speaking to technologists all over the world - no doubt. But, it's a full time job. That makes two full time jobs that I hold. Tons of preparation and building demos and research. Public speaking is so difficult. I love the challenge. I love that feeling when I know the audience is fired up and ready to implement when I'm done. However to do it right takes huge amounts of time so I try to limit the big events to 10 or so a year. Unfortunately I have to turn down 5 times as many events as I'm asked to speak at.