Office Insider Spotlight: Raphael Köllner
As part of our new series Office Insider Spotlight, we will be introducing you to MVPs, creators, and tech leaders who love the Office Insider program. Raphael Köllner is an Office Apps and Services MVP, Windows Insider MVP, Microsoft Expert Student Partner, and speaker at countless Microsoft events. As a consultant, he finds the Insider program to be a necessary tool in his work.
Office Insider Spotlight
“I’m testing all the new features and giving feedback,” he says. “It is really great for my community and my customers.”
Köllner loves the program so much, he made it a major focal point for Office 365 Community Germany, which is now at over 1,300 members.
“We have huge discussions in the Office 365 Community in Germany every two weeks and tackle different topics,” he says. Often, the group reviews and discusses a new feature highlighted by the Insider program. In addition, they prioritize sending feedback on the features.
“Many customers have wish lists for the products or mental blocks to using certain ones, but they feel better about trying things out because of the Insiders program,” he says. “They like being able to give their feedback directly to the team. They love that they can nominate a feature and give it support.”
The communication via the Insider program makes people feel more connected to Microsoft, Köllner says.
Many people in the Office Insider community in Germany are consultants or IT specialists. They can bring back the knowledge, features and latest ideas to their companies that they learned to their company and coworkers. This ripple effect allows insiders to know they have gained real value from the program.
Köllner’s community hosts annual conferences and typically meet once a month in person. They use Teams to increase communication and collaboration on a weekly basis with one-hour Virtual Cafés calls. During these calls, they discuss topics in-depth, for example, translating your PowerPoint from German to English. They also routinely touch on how feedback from the Insider program has shaped features.
“The Office Insider program gives me the chance to create a community and to have awesome events around the world,” he says. “Thank you very much!”
Tell us about your journey in tech.
“I started my journey like most: to handle the IT at home. While I was studying law, I became extremely interested in IT and joined the Microsoft Student Partner Program to learn, connect, share, and certificate my knowledge. I connected tech and law to close this gap. Then, I started to work at Microsoft Germany and switched between law firms and IT companies. During all those roles, I lead communities for Office 365, Azure, Windows, and law.”
What parts of technology inspire you the most?
“I am very inspired by innovative tech like Machine Learning, AI, and the development of default software like Word into the innovative tool it is today. In my view, the technology sector is the most innovative and has the most opportunities to do what you love. One of my favorite parts of technology and law is that you only need a PC and an idea to create something. The power of your thoughts transforms a default tool into an innovative tool.”
How would you describe your work?
“My work is a combination of everyday learning, testing, and giving feedback. I must find default and novel solutions for complex, high security, and compliance solutions. It is a wonderful job. I work with a lot of different people and get to be a bit of a treasure hunter like Indiana Jones to find the best solution that is stable every day. Patience, passion, listening, and persistence are the keys to success.”
What books inspire you the most?
“Recently, I’m reading a lot of law books and only a few tech books. My favorite books are Tools and Weapons from Brad Smith, Hit Refresh from Satya Nadella, Cloud Computing from Prof. Borges, Compliance from Prof. Teichmann, and the Tom Clancy adventures.”
Which superhero character do you connect with in real life?
“One of my superheroes is Gabe Aul, the first Windows Insider lead, and I relate to him today as a mentor and mentee. It is essential to have a person you can talk to and discuss different topics in your work and career. I like to define goals with my mentor and with my mentees and create a clear focus to reach those goals.”
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