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5 People who inspire me 2020



I write this list every year because I am constantly being inspired to do bigger and better things by the people around me. I use this as a way to reflect on the year and understand the impact others have had on my journey. I know I am help by others around me, either directly or indirectly, and that's what this list is about.



Claire Carmichael

I met Claire at Scottish Summit 2020, I stood alone in a corner, feeling out of place and overwhelmed. She spoke to me and invited me to an after party. I knew who Claire was but this was my first time speaking to her. After Scottish Summit, Claire started the Virtual Power Group, a group dedicated to be virtual source for learning and sharing in an open format. Sessions are recorded but at the end of the session, the recording is switched off to allow people to talk and ask questions without any fear asking silly questions (btw, there are no silly questions).


The VPG was started with the idea to bring people together to learn, people who struggle to get to usergroups because of commitments like jobs and kids and other things, people who still want to learn, people who still want to network with people, but just can’t do this in person often. This might seem a fairly familiar concept, living through a pandemic like we are, but the VPG was not designed with this in mind, it's virtual BP (Before Pandemic) and will still be virtual in the same format AP (After Pandemic).


Claire has built a community with over 300 members, produced 36 sessions since April 2020, she has spoken at conferences, she has helped new speakers find a voice, she has brought experts from around the globe to people in remote parts of the world (that's not a Scottish joke, I just want to clarify).


I myself have a monthly session at the VPG, which is called the Flow Surgery, where we build a solution to a problem/question posed by the community and we build it as a community. During these sessions, Claire has taught me so much, her knowledge of the platform is incredible. Claire is a total inspiration. Claire and I also share an MVP award date, we were both awarded on 1st November, making us MVP Besties. 😁


Virtual Power Group

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Clarissa Gillingham

If you do not know who Clarissa Gillingham is, have you been living under a rock for the last 12 months? She has exploded onto the Power Apps/Power Platform scene with some awesome content. She “learns out loud” to twitter with the new knowledge she has gained through her job, something I’ve begun doing this year through twitter as well, and what I’ve done through this blog and my YouTube channel.


Clarissa has been showcasing and blogging about her amazing Infinity form. A Canvas App which has the ability to overcome the control limit of Canvas Apps in a really inventive way. I’m not going to spoil how it’s done, you will need to read her blog for that, but what I will say is that Clarissa is an amazing person and you should all be following her.


I met Clarissa and got to spend some time chatting to her at Microsoft Ignite the Tour, in London in January this year. She is as friendly and smart as she is on Twitter.


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Ana Inés Urrutia

Wow, what a journey Ana has been on this year. Leaving out just the physical journey of her traveling around South America and her future plans on moving to the Netherlands (doing this all while working and speaking at community events, which is really impressive). Ana is someone I’ve gotten to know this year, I first attended a session of hers at Community Summit Europe where she was talking about HR.


She has launched and built a D365 HR usergroup with Malin Martnes, presented at various places, become a huge part of the community in part because she is a big advocate to uplifting others.


One of my favourite aspects on Ana is that she is a "Cheerleader for almost everything" and I love that! Ana is constantly promoting, talking up, supporting and giving everything she has to help other people, that is truly a special thing to find in life, especially when people thing so much of themselves, it's great to find people who uplift others.

Ana was awarded the Microsoft MVP award this year and is an absolutely incredible human being who I have the pleasure to call my friend.


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Luise Freese If you don’t think Luise is an inspiring person, I really don’t know what you think inspiration is. This badass does everything! Microsoft 365 Consultant who runs several businesses, the consultancy business and sticker business, she’s #NotADev but has been learning things like the Microsoft Graph, building incredible canvas apps for organising her event attendance and then freely sharing the knowledge to anyone. I’m also completely in awe of her style and baking, but that’s a personal note.


Luise is also a talented artist, her SketchNotes of conference keynotes are stuff of legend, another thing I envy. I think we all want to be a little bit like Luise, I know I do.

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Carl Cookson

I met Carl...at some point, but we disagree on that 😁 Carl is someone I’ve had the pleasure to get to know a lot better over the last 12 months. Carl is an XrmToolBox tool creator, helps run the Power Platform Virtual Happy Hour , is the maestro behind the Virtual Events Hub, speaker and MVP, that’s quite a resume.


Carl is a constant compass in this community, helping guide us (and me) through technology and people through this ever evolving landscape. I highly recommend checking out some of his XrmToolBox Tools like the Mockaroo Data Munger or the Flow to Visio builder.


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There you have it, these are the 5 people that inspired me in 2020, who inspired you this year?

Ciao for now

MCJ