Houston, Texas-native Donovan Brown didn’t intend on becoming a prominent speaker in the world of tech. But with the countless hours he’s invested into his passion of programming, it’s no surprise Brown has honed his craft and found greater confidence on stage.
Brown credits many of his career highs and overall opportunities to Microsoft.
“My entire career has been on Microsoft software,” says Brown, who’s been writing software for over 20 years. “Microsoft is literally why I have everything that I own. Even when I was a consultant, it was all Microsoft. When I joined Notion Solutions, it was Team Foundation Server [a Microsoft product]. To work for a company that’s literally given me everything, professionally, I take that extremely seriously. I’m extremely proud to work for Microsoft.”
His first big stage debut began with a cold email. A technical sales rep at Microsoft at the time, Brown was preparing for a customer visit and pushing Release Management, a product that automates deployment and testing in multiple environments, to its limits. When it stopped responding, the self-taught programmer knew reaching out to the co-worker who created the virtual machine Brown was using, would yield an answer.
Not only did the email lead to a conversation with his colleague, the passion and knowledge Brown conveyed was enough to secure an invite to speak at Microsoft’s TechEd North America conference. He had no prior large-scale public speaking experience, but knew he could get the job done. His strong delivery — he said he treats his presentations like a Broadway performance — and 100-plus rehearsal hours, which has spent reviewing jokes, monologues, breaking and repairing things, calculating clicks, timing and word placement, have led Brown to speak at some of today’s largest developer conferences, including keynotes at Microsoft’s Build, Connect(); and Ignite events.
“The moment before [an executive keynote speaker] invites you on stage, that moment in time. Not when you’re on stage, not after, not when you’re reading all the tweets, all the people and all the accolades, but that moment right before he or she calls you on stage, holy crap, it’s amazing,” says Brown. “It is just amazing!”
While presenting and giving demos is a large part of his job, Brown writes software before and after he leaves the stage. He stays sharp by coding daily. “I have probably four pieces of software that I write every week. I moonlight, which means you can write software after hours at Microsoft, I have two of those and then I have my two open source projects that relate directly to my work. At any point in time I’m writing four pieces of software in order to stay connected to customers.”
The avid programmer has broken down DevOps for an entire industry. “I’m going to rub a little DevOps on it” is a popular catchphrase used by Brown and his team. Just check the hashtag, #RubDevOpsOnIt .
After deep analysis, writing and rewriting, Brown settled on this definition: “DevOps is the union of people, process and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users.”
Leading the charge on Microsoft’s vision for DevOps, it’s clear that whether on or off the stage, Brown’s confidence, solution-oriented mindset and work ethic will help usher the multinational corporation into the next phase of innovation.