A Canuck In The Machine

Mark Relph - Senior Director - Startup and VC Team

June, 2009

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Want My Job?


    Recently I announced my move to join the Windows business group in Redmond.  Well, now it is time for me to hand over the reigns of the DPE Canada Organization to someone else.

    So, if you want my job – read on.  It’s an amazing gig, leading an world-class team, with a tremendous mission.


    Director – Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE)


    The Challenge:

    As a member of the Canadian Leadership Team at Microsoft Canada, The Director of the DPE is an exciting and dynamic role that offers both the opportunity to be “chief technology evangelist” for Microsoft Canada and the exciting business challenge of owning an end-to-end business. This role has national and industry wide impact. Outside of Microsoft, this role helps to support and grow Canada’s technology economy. The role provides a chance to build a strong public profile which includes press, public speaking and key thought leadership opportunities; to meet with customers and partners across the country; to experience sales and strategic business development; and to ensure the success of an exciting and diverse set of marketing programs.


    About The Organization:

    The Developer & Platform Evangelism Group (DPE) mission is to “Secure the Future of the Microsoft Platform” by ensuring that students, startups, developers, IT Pros, and ISVs choose Microsoft platforms. To achieve this goal, DPE works across 3 key engagement areas – Technical Audiences Marketing & Evangelism, Customer Engagement & Tools Sales and Partner Engagement. This group’s mission is critical to the long term success of Microsoft. It is a unique group that combines product marketing, audience marketing, sales, business development and technology evangelism. DPE offers an exciting people environment - it prides itself on an agile business philosophy and a dedication to personal development.

    The impact of DPE spans 3 key pillars:

    1. Supporting Canada’s Technical Professionals by connecting with them and responding to their needs with outstanding programs, activities, interactions and content. We also engage with students in sciences, technology, engineering, math and design to ensure we are supporting the next generation of Technology Professionals.
    2. Driving strategic platform & technology adoption by helping our customers and our partners do amazing things with our software.  DPE aims to help them maximize the impact of the software they already have and helping them be ready for the technology of the future. This also includes a variety of initiatives including improving our position as a web platform provider, driving new industry standards.
    3. Inspire, Support & Foster Canadian Innovation. DPE works to grow Canada’s “software economy”. This includes engaging with startups, building relationships with Academic institutions, building industry partnerships and working with government.

    Specific DPE activities include:

    • Connecting the Developer, Architect and IT Pro audiences through an integrated approach to evangelism, communities and intelligent audience marketing.
    • Engaging Independent Software Vendors through depth and breadth technical evangelism activities
    • Driving highly visible reference wins on strategic technologies in enterprise accounts that lead to compelling customer reference
    • Product Management of the Development Tools products and key platform technologies such as .NET and Silverlight.
    • Sales of Microsoft Developer Tools and Platform
    • Engaging technical students and faculty in universities, colleges and high schools


    The Role:

    As Director of the Developer & Platform Evangelism Group this role leads a team of 30 people help secure the future of the Microsoft Platform. This role is also a key member of the Canadian Leadership Team, helping to ensure the success of the Canadian subsidiary as a whole.

    This role is the overall business leader of DPE, as well as being accountable for key strategic initiatives within the subsidiary. The Director of DPE Canada will have the following priorities during the fiscal year:

    • Ensure Windows 7 compatibility and lighthouse applications
    • Grow Internet Explorer share and lighthouse applications
    • Drive Web Platform Share
    • Technical Audiences (Developers, IT Pros, Students, Startups)
    • Own the Developer Tools business in Canada – Win Share, Grow Licenses, and exceed Revenue targets
    • Lead the overall ISV Strategy for Canada
    • Lead the overall S+S Strategy for Canada
    • Build a strong culture of competing within DPE Canada

    Key responsibilities of this role (with support of the entire DPE team) include:


    • Build an innovative set of marketing programs to connect with Canada’s Technology Professionals
    • Build a strong yearly product and platform marketing plan
    • Execution of our product and platform campaigns, promotions and activities
    • Work in conjunction with our marketing and communications team in the development and execution of our campaigns and agency management

    Technology Adoption:

    • Win share in the marketplace of our development platforms (such as .NET), key infrastructure technologies (such as virtualization) and development tools (such as Visual Studio)
    • Drive adoption of our technologies with customers, with a focus on building key wins that can be used as evidence / reference to build momentum in the Canadian marketplace.
    • Ensure compatibility with and use of key client and web technologies (such as Windows 7 and IE8)
    • Drive the business development around key strategic wins that highlight our technology
    • Be a thought leader for key technology focus areas such as Software+Services and Microsoft’s Web Platform


    • Drive the overall ISV strategy for Canada
    • Build a powerful ecosystem of partners around our technology
    • Build readiness programs to help prepare partnership for our future technology programs


    • Maintain the overall Tools Forecast. Accurate and timely sales pipeline forecasting and participation in the subsidiary forecasting process, including integration into the Server & Tools business processes.
    • Achievement of our Tools sales goals across all customer segments. Maintain an accurate and effective sales forecast
    • Tools Growth Models and Yearly budget creation. Develop and implement analytics on the health of the business and the market opportunity.


    • Build a strong team that can be agile in achieving the business goals
    • Ensure that an outstanding focus people development is maintain
    • Strive for exception employee satisfaction results

    Success will be measured across the sales, evangelism and marketing aspects of the role and achieving a “green” business scorecard.


    The Fit:

    • A strong business leader with a track record of success
    • Affinity for public speaking & PR
    • A passion for technology
    • The ability to scale across sales and marketing
    • Ability to drive execution and innovation
    • A solid people manager who can grow, inspire and support the people on the team
    • Experience selling and/or marketing a highly technical product
    • An outstanding ability to execute and orchestrate across teams
    • Ability to fit into a dynamic, high performance team and have fun!

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Microsoft Canada Is Hiring – Senior Product Manager, Windows 7 & IE8


    Here is another GREAT role open at Microsoft Canada.  This one is with the Windows Consumer Team.  With the launch of Windows 7 in the near future, this is a great position to consider if you are an amazing marketing talent!




    Purpose: This is an exciting time to be on the Windows business as the brand prepares for the upcoming launch of Windows 7, re-establishes itself as a leading consumer brand, and re-defines the value proposition of its core applications, Windows Media Centre and Internet Explorer. Overall, the purpose of this role is to profitably drive category growth and achieve Windows and Internet Explorer market share objectives by 1) building new growth engines in the consumer channel, 2) driving ecosystem excitement around Windows 7, Windows Live and IE8 with key partners (OEM, Telcos, On line destinations etc.), 3) improving the value proposition of Windows and IE through new relevant content and add-ons, and 4) pro-actively identifying new market growth opportunities through a deep understanding of the PC and browser market.
    Key Responsibilities:
    1. Build new growth engines in the consumer channel
    Partner with the Communications Sector Team to drive business development opportunities in the Telco channel
    Drive category growth via netbooks in the consumer channel
    Partner with OEM and Telco to deliver a premium PC experience across all form factors
    2. Drive ecosystem excitement around Windows 7, Windows Live and IE8 with key partners
    Partner with the OEM team to identify opportunities and execute breakthrough holistic marketing across Windows 7
    Lead category thinking across consumer PC usage scenarios across OEM, Telco and retail
    Identify key growth drivers for IE and identify the right partners to light up the browser experience and distribute the browser
    3. Improve the value proposition of Windows by lighting up its applications
    Make Media Centre a `Must Have’ feature by pro-actively identifying and securing the right content partners
    Maximize the impact of IE8 by identifying the right webslices and accelerators to differentiate the browser vs. competition
    Build a marketing plan that drives awareness and trial of Media Centre and IE
    4. Pro-actively identify new market growth opportunities in the PC and browser market.
    Become the PC and Browser consumer expert for the Canadian subsidiary
    Pro-actively identify category growth drivers via deep category and consumer understanding
    Recommended Qualifcations:
    Degree or Diploma from a recognized post secondary institution required; A Masters in Business Administration preferred as well as:
    3-5 years experience in consumer marketing from a top tier company
    Strong strategic thinker with strong analytical skills leading to actionable strategies
    Strong ability to partner and work with others (internally and externally)
    Excellent presentation skills and proven track record to influence others
    Strong consumer understanding (target and branding understanding) with a proven track record of results
    Experience working with OEM and/ or Telco channel is preferred

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Microsoft Canada Is Hiring – Partner Marketing Manager, ISVs


    Partner Marketing Manager - ISVs


    Want a chance to help shape Microsoft Canada’s partner strategy for Independent Software Vendors?  This is a critical part of our partner marketing group.  ISVs are vital Microsoft’s long term success, so we are looking for someone to fill this important role.

    Come and join the Microsoft Canada team!!

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Announcing – The Muchmusic Video Awards & Silverlight


    The team has been hard at work to get this surprise ready and now we can let it out of the bag!

    We are happy to announce that MuchMusic will broadcast the MuchMusic Video Awards online in High Definition powered by Silverlight and SmoothHD technology!!!

    This is one of the biggest shows in Canada (Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga, and a ton of other stars that teenagers go crazy for).  It’s also the 20th anniversary of the MMVAs – so it’s an extra special event.  Muchmusic will be broadcasting 6 live Silverlight streams online (5 Standard Definition from various backstage cameras and 1 full SmoothHD broadcast).  Interestingly, this will be the first North American execution of Live SmoothHD.

    What is SmoothHD?  SmoothHD is a solution that combines the amazing cross-platform video experience of Silverlight, the streaming features of Windows Server and the power of the cloud.  In this case, MuchMusic captures the show live, pushes the bits in realtime up to Windows Servers in Akamai’s datacenters.  This solution creates a full Live HD experience (up to full 720p). The value is that users get the best picture, should see almost no buffer time and the video stream will automatically throttle itself according to the available bandwidth the user has.  (You can see an example in action here http://hdbeta.ctv.ca).

    There are lots of other cool digital aspects to the show….. I went down to the set of the MMVAs earlier this week and met up with Ryan Trotman who is the Director Of Digital for Muchmusic/MTV.  We recorded a little video and talked about the web / digital side of the event.

    You can read more about this in an interview we did for InformationExec located here.

    Here is the copy of our official press release:

    MuchMusic 2009 Video Awards Rocks a Canadian First with Real-Time Streaming in High-Definition Using Silverlight

    Backstage Live to offer computer users a unique, multi-camera online experience

    June 19, 2009 - Mississauga, ON - Microsoft Canada Co. announced today that MuchMusic, a division of CTV Limited, has selected Microsoft® SilverlightTM browser plug-in to give people across Canada one of the best seats in the house for this Sunday's 2009 Much Music Video Awards (MMVAs) in Toronto.

    This year, anyone watching the MMVAs on a computer running Microsoft Silverlight will have access to Backstage Live, a unique, online video experience based on Silverlight that will stream the event live in high-definition - a Canadian first. Backstage Live lets viewers select from six different views powered by 21 cameras located throughout the event venue, so they can enjoy planned live on-stage performances from the Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas, take part in exclusive behind-the-scenes celebrity interviews, peek into the VIP and press rooms, or join in the action from backstage or in the crowd.

    As well, viewers can take advantage of the Alt Show cams to enjoy a "second screen" experience, letting viewers access TV footage framed in an alternate shot with different cameras. People using Backstage Live can also chat with friends live via Facebook and Twitter.

    "The MMVAs are all about the fans, and Backstage Live gives them an entirely new way to experience the show," said Brad Schwartz, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Much MTV Group, CTV Inc. "Microsoft Silverlight technology is helping us make one of biggest shows of the year even more exciting by providing an interactive, online experience that re-defines what it means to broadcast on the Web."

    "Web presence is about more than just a Web site - it's about extending the online experience into the everyday lives of consumers," said Mark Relph, Vice President, Developer and Platform, Microsoft Canada. "The MMVAs and Backstage Live are a great example of this, and we're proud that Silverlight is helping to bring Canadians closer to one of the biggest entertainment events of 2009."

    The cameras start rolling June 21, at 9pm ET. To experience Backstage Live, visit http://mmva.muchmusic.com/category/pepsi-backstage/

    For more information on Silverlight Smooth Streaming visit http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/smoothstreaming/

  • A Canuck In The Machine



    Mark Relph Bio Pic - PhotoJunkie - May 2008I love my job.  I really do.  Not everyone gets to say that with as much passion as I can, so it’s a special privilege to be in this position (particularly in this economy).

    I believe that my role here at Microsoft Ca nada is one of the best in all of Microsoft.  The mission of the job is amazing – connect with Canada’s Technology Professionals, build Canadian momentum for key strategic technologies and help support Canadian technology innovation.  For the last 3 years as VP/Director, and 3 years before that as a member of the Canadian Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE) Team it has been a pleasure to pursue that mission across Canada’s IT industry.

    I have a truly amazing team – the finest group of people I’ve had a chance to work with so far in my career.  In 5+ years, DPE Canada has accomplished a lot as a group.  The list is so long that I cannot possibly capture it all, but a few things jump to mind.  We’ve fundamentally changed how we go to market and redesigned our approach to engaging Canada’s technology professionals – Techdays, EnergizeIT, Ignite Your Career all come to mind.  We embraced social media in order to maintain a two-way dialogue with the tech audience.  We’ve been a part of some of the largest product launches including Visual Studio, SQL Server, Windows Server & Windows Vista.  The Visual Studio business has grown significantly in the last 3 years, despite the recent economic downturn.  We have helped .NET grow to almost 80% marketshare in Canada and we are now working to help drive momentum around new elements of our platform like Silverlight.  There are countless customers that we have helped to do amazing things with our technology – The Weather Network, CTV, Bank Of Montreal just to name a few.  Helping Canadian software vendors has always been a focus for us and I know we have directly helped hundreds of companies over the years.  We’ve become a first class citizen in the technology community – participating in events like MESH and StartupEmpire.  I’m proud of the partnerships we have forged across Canada with academic institutions like Waterloo & OCAD and with industry associations like CATA, ACCC and CIPS.  As I look to the near future there are even more great things to come for DPE Canada – including the launch of Windows 7 in Canada.

    With all that background I can say that it is with very mixed emotions that share some news with you.  As the saying goes ‘the only constant is change’ and the time has come for me to take on my next challenge. 

    After 11 years at Microsoft Canada, I have accepted a role in Redmond as the Senior Director of the Windows Ecosystem Team, reporting to Mike Nash, Corporate Vice President, Windows Product Management

    This is a very exciting opportunity for me.  I have always said that I would move to Redmond for the right job.  One that has incredible strategic impact – something that could help shape the future of the company.  This role definitely fits the bill.  It’s a big, exciting, daunting, awesome, scary, amazing challenge.  I think it is a great fit for my skills and my passion for our technology.  Starting in July, I will be responsible for driving the overall Windows Ecosystem strategy that will ensure world class compatibility, drive innovation on the platform and deliver a clear message to developers on why their long term bet for their business is the Windows platform.  Windows is at the heart of the Microsoft – it’s our flagship product.  It’s an area where we’ve been working hard to do better - Windows 7 is evidence of that hard work.  It is critical to ensure that Windows benefits from a healthy partner ecosystem and a big part of my new job is to help show that hardware and software innovation is a differentiating asset of the Windows franchise.

    Looking ahead, I am not only excited about the business challenge but also about everything I will experience in the new job.  Redmond is a totally different place compared to the field and I know I have lots of learn.  As great as my current team is, I am very excited to meet my new team and learn more about the great things they are doing.  Bottom line – I have a chance to help a new team succeed and to make a difference in Redmond.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s incredibly exciting (and a little scary as well!)

    Anyone who knows me knows that I am an incredibly proud Canadian.  I believe in Canada - our people, our technology industry and our potential for innovation.  I’ve been dedicated to helping Canada’s technology community for a long time, so moving away is hard – both personally (our friends and life are in Toronto and we will dearly miss being here) as well as professionally.  I like to think of it this way – if a little Canadian talent and innovation can help make Windows even better, than it is a worthwhile export investment.  I’ll always be Canadian and a Torontonian at heart.  I will commit publically today to remain connected to Canada is a variety of ways and I hope to be invited back often to participate in the technology community.  You haven’t seen the last of me, that is for sure.

    I would like to thank Phil Sorgen, the President of Microsoft Canada and the rest of the Microsoft Canada Leadership Team for all their support over the last 3 years.  They are a great group of people and I think Microsoft Canada benefits tremendously from their great leadership.

    Finally, to everyone across Canada I have had the pleasure of working with – our customers, partners, the developer & IT Professional community, academic institutions and industry group – I want to say thank you. 

    I will begin transitioning to my new role during July and August.  The search for my successor will begin right away.  Whoever that person is, I know that will share my passion for Canada’s potential and will help DPE Canada to continue to make an impact and to evolve.

    Again, thanks to my team, my peers, the community, our customers & partners for making 11 years in Canada a blast.  I will dearly miss everyone, but I leave really excited about the future.

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Students, get out there and get noticed…!


    As the school year comes to an end and summer begins, I was thinking a lot about all the students out there trying to discover the first step in their career.  Last year we surveyed 200 Canadian IT professionals, looking at their hiring and technology needs. More than 60 per cent of respondents agreed that students leave school with the skills needed to land a job. But only 40 per cent felt that students arrive at the workplace prepared for “real world requirements.”

    In other words, they’re bright and eager. But they lack experience.

    Students have always struggled to overcome the “no experience” hurdle. And given the current job market, it’s become even more difficult. The good news is that today’s grads – and especially those interested in a career in IT - have tools at their disposal that can help raise their profile in the community.

    It starts with the social media basics: make sure you tell the world what you do through a regularly updated blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile. But to make a personal brand strong, you also have to get out there and get your hands dirty. It’s important, and it’s why we invest so much into giving students with a passion for technology a chance to shine.

    The foundation of our support to students thinking about a career in technology is Dreamspark, a program that provides free developer tools and server software to students.  Simply verify that you are a student online and presto! you have access.  The great thing about Dreamspark is that it ensures that students have the professional grade tools at the fingertips to help them not only learn, but innovate as well.

    Then there is the Microsoft Throwdown contest, which we announced last month. It’s battle between professional and student developers and a chance to show off interesting PHP applications on the Windows platform. It’s also a great way for a student to showcase their skills and raise the profile. And the $10,000 in total prize money isn’t bad either.

    And there’s never a shortage of creativity on display at the Imagine Cup.  More than 300,000 students from 100 countries – including Canada - are registered, with the finals set for Cairo in July. This year’s contest challenges students to use their technology skills and imagination to address the world’s toughest problems — ranging from halving extreme poverty and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education.

    Finally, we believe that helping students and graduates needs to be an industry-wide effort.  We’ve teamed up with IT industry associations and academia to help give students as many opportunities to shine as possible.  For example, we have partnered with organizations like The Association Of Canadian Community Colleges, launched an initiative with the Ontario College Of Art & Design and teamed up with CIPS.

    Clearly, skills and enthusiasm are important. But it’s just as important to get out there and get involved. The result may not quite be the same as on-the-job experience, but building personal connections and putting skills to work can quickly pay off.

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Just a typical planning day at MSFT…


    Thanks to Joey (@accordionguy) for taking this picture at our all-hands planning brainstorming session… (with a few alterations, of course)




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