The Journey to SharePoint Site Collection Administrator and Beyond

Many business people have asked me how long it takes to become SharePoint savvy, and what the journey is they can expect.  This is my journey.

Month 1 

November 2006.  Career history to date, Project Administrator for the past 11 years or so.  Heard the word SharePoint for the first time ever during an interview. Hired as a Project Administrator and given the SharePoint POC server to play with.  Told to run SharePoint for the department. (Sorry what?)

First 3 months

Lock myself out of my own sites just about daily.  SharePoint experience, zero! SharePoint courses, zero.  On the job learning is all I have.  Drive the Enterprise Architect crazy all day every day with questions, his response eventually – Google it!

6 months in

Doing SharePoint and my “day job”.  Completely in love with SharePoint.  Calls to Microsoft; one. They couldn’t fix the issue either. Looking around for courses, not getting anywhere and company won’t approve me going.  Been invited to Information Worker (IW), attending monthly, not saying one word cos I feel like an idiot with all those clever people in the room.  Googling like a crazy person and actually getting somewhere. Feeling very proud of myself, wondering what else this product can do. Frustrated that I’m not allowed to attend training or conferences without paying for it myself.

12 months in

SharePoint is my life!  I don’t want my day job anymore. Plus it’s exhausting doing both! Company starts to realise they may need a full time SharePoint person, I want it.  Takes almost a year for the decision to be made, job performance pays off and I become a fulltime SharePoint Administrator.  Another PA takes over my old job.  Also made a team lead at IW.  Working like a slave!  Sleepless nights. Training users, configuring sites, designed an evangelism site.  Become the go-to person for all things SharePoint.  Completely frustrated with the training out there.

2 years in

Get certified on implementing SharePoint.  Working insanely long hours. Running the whole POC server with 3000 users and hundreds of team sites.  Get an assistant and train her up.  Get a fulltime trainer on board too.  Spoke regularly at IW and started a business community following.  Mess up the server completely by changing the title field in the Item Content Type, never got fixed.  Finally get my head around how SharePoint really fits together.  I thought I knew before, but I didn’t really – something I didn’t realise until the lights actually went on … like after the title field issue.

3 years in

Stress induced nervous breakdowns; one.  Identified a gap in the market, resigned and started my own company.  Start at the bottom of the foodchain again. Started my first blog, total hits for the month – 239.  Attend my first overseas SharePoint Conferences, mind blown completely. Meet all my SharePoint heros, completely star struck. Invited to speak overseas for the first time, sheer and utter terror sets in.  Neat vodka is consumed before session.  Invited to become co-manager on SharePoint Experts on LinkedIn.  It becomes all about community and understanding and meeting other business users in the world.  Takes a year before I can sleep through the night again due to chronic fatigue syndrome acquired at previous job.

4 years in

Awared SharePoint MVP.  Introduced to Twitter and learnt to understand and love it!  Started another user group for business people.  Arrange first SharePoint Saturday.  Still travelling like mad, the conference / speaker circuit is manic!  But they’re all just huge reunion parties with a SharePoint theme.  Never happier.   Try my hand at videos and start my own Youtube channel.

5 years in

Re-awarded SharePoint MVP.  Realisation of a 5 year dream to get a SharePoint business conference for South Africa.  Published as a co-author on a SharePoint book available on Amazon.  Arrange second SharePoint Saturday.  Spoken at 11 conferences around the world.  Grow company by 2 people, and another 2 part-timers.  Expand IW to Durban.  Expand SBW to Cape Town.  Increase of 264% in earnings in 3 years.  Blog hits per month – 10 000.

6 years in

Will be Nov 2012.  What will the future hold?  Time will tell, but there are constant big plans in the works.

Moral of the story 

There is nothing special about my skills or my ability.  If a stock standard Project Administrator can change her stars completely by embracing some random piece of software, then you can too.  There are “normal” people doing this as we speak. Your journey from your “day job” to any SharePoint specialisation can take any form you want it to.  If you want something, you need to go for it – unrelenting over years and years.  Don’t give up.

You will be tired, you will be frustrated.  You will laugh, you will cry.  You’ll make a hundred new friends, and a handful of jealous enemies.  You will learn something new every day.  You will love SharePoint, and hate it with just as much passion. You will never be alone again.  You will always have something to do.  It will take time, but that time will fly!

To get started, take your own initiative.  Learn, ask, research, get involved in the community, make mistakes, get up and try again; grow your network.  You can change your stars.

To all the companies out there not looking after their SharePoint people – be warned.  They are building huge networks that will allow them to jump ship at the slightest provocation, and demand is very high for SharePoint jobs of all descriptions globally.  Take care of your staff.  And please understand, SharePoint is not a part-time job!  They will suffer from utter exhaustion and burn out if you try that.

About Veronique Palmer

Empowering people one at a time.
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15 Responses to The Journey to SharePoint Site Collection Administrator and Beyond

  1. Pingback: 15 Ways to Rebrand Yourself | Views from Veronique

  2. Hi Angela,

    I haven’t written that exam no, it’s not my focus. My specialty is in the end user space. 🙂

    I would hit Twitter if I were you. Use the hashtag #SPHelp and see if anyone can recommend some resources for you.

    Good luck on your new journey. Your life is about to change forever. 🙂

    ..V..

    Like

  3. Angela says:

    Hi Veronique
    This is a very inspiring ladder of success!
    I had never heard of SharePoint until I recently took a job as a SharePoint Administrator. I’m learning everything from scratch. Just wondering if you ever wrote the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administrator Exam (70-668)? If you have, do you have any recommendations that would help in exam preparation?
    Thank you!

    Like

  4. Thank you Pat. It’s not always an easy journey, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Many people end up doing what you and I did – resigned and started their own thing. That’s why big corporates have to start taking better care of their staff, or risk losing them.

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  5. Pat says:

    I admire your strength! I had four years just on the CMS side and that was enough for me. Three months after our SA quit and was told there would be no replacement (just me), I resigned to start my own company. I will not be using SP but will use some of the things I learned will come in handy as I build Drupal sites.

    Like

  6. And how hey. A very painful lesson – they can’t teach you that stuff in a class! 😉

    Glad you enjoyed the post Sivu, keep going on your journey.

    Like

  7. Sivu Manene says:

    What an inspirational journey…I can see I’m on the right path. Oh and I so can relate to the title field issue, for me it was a BIG lesson learned and one to never be forgotten.

    Like

  8. I really wish you the best of luck! You have a ton of help if you need it! Go out there and get ’em tiger! 🙂

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  9. Pingback: The Journey to SharePoint Site Collection Administrator and Beyond - The Microsoft SharePoint Blog

  10. inspirational indeed, just what I needed…today as I finish of my last day of being full time employed and taking the entrepreneurial leap!

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  11. My pleasure Aldo. Just take steps every day in the direction you want to go, and one day you’ll wake up and you’re there.

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  12. Really inspirational Vero, I like it. I feel myself as you 5 year before. I will take energy from your history and let the change happen. Tanks for sharing your experience!

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  13. Just trying to save them a few years in their journey. 🙂

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  14. Kirk Schafer says:

    …Ahhh … so now we see why you are “…saving SharePoint end users one at a time.” … You are giving back what you went through 🙂

    Like

  15. Pingback: The Journey to SharePoint Site Collection Administrator and Beyond - SharePoint User Group Blogs - Bamboo Nation

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