Azure McFarlane on The MVP Show

Azure McFarlane on The MVP Show

Azure McFarlane
Microsoft Business Applications MVP


  • Hear Azure McFarlane talks about her inspiring story and love for food, family, and fun, and how these things play a role in her life outside of tech. 
  • Listen to the full episode for more insights from Azure on the importance of building a strong support system in tech. 
  • Azure shares her journey into the tech industry and the importance of building a strong support system. 
  • Azure talks about her expertise in Power Automate and how she uses it to increase productivity in both her personal and professional life. 
  • Azure shares her experience using Power Automate to snap photos of receipts and upload them to SharePoint and Dynamics for easy tracking and organization. 
  • Tune in to hear Azure's thoughts on the importance of continuous learning and staying engaged with the Power Platform, and her tips for finding creative uses for Power Automate in your own life. 
  • Azure shares her journey in creating engaging content for YouTube and blogging platforms. 
  • Azure shares her experience as an MVP and the opportunities it has provided for her, such as speaking at events and being a part of the MVP community. This serves as inspiration for others looking to become an MVP and the benefits that come with the recognition. 

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Thanks for listening 🚀 - Mark Smith


[mark]: today's guest is from washington d c in the u s she was first awarded m v p and twenty twenty one she's past passionate about educating and powering and supporting women and minorities in cully enjoys running baking yum and hiking in a free time you can find full links to her bio or the kind of stuff she's done in the webisphere in the show notes for this episode sure welcome to the show

[azure_mcfarlane]: hi there how are you doing mark

[mark]: good good good now do you know and this is just it just came to me there because i know heaps of people probably say you hey with a name like a sure you know is microsoff paying you royalties et cetera um mean that i think you had the name before they had the product and so with that in mind did you know that there was a there's a rock um that's part of the mediterranean that's called it was called a or as an arch and actually it fell into the sea and i only found that one i went there and i was like well markof still like there was an ancient landmark that had that name are you aware of that

[azure_mcfarlane]: are you talking are you talking about so is that the one

[mark]: yeah yeah

[azure_mcfarlane]: yea yea yea somebody actually threw that in a in a group chat the other day a friend who is into rocks and what not and he's like have you seen this and i was like i really like this a lot i don't think i've ever actually hadn't seen it before then but now i know next pieces of jewelry that i that i get i think y're gonna be that my favorite color

[mark]: nice

[azure_mcfarlane]: is blue by the way i don't know if that's like a that's that's like a cop out

[mark]: this is actually a rock like a massive outcrop on an island that was called sure rather than yeah and i was just trying to look it up and i'm like

[azure_mcfarlane]: okay

[mark]: it's not as easier to jump to my finger tips so i might come back to you on that but anyhow tell me about food family and fun what do they and to you what do you do when you're not doing anything power platform related

[azure_mcfarlane]: food family fun one food is like why i exist i love to cook i love to eat in fact i've aready cleaned out some of my meals for the next couple of days tomorrow night's dinner is going to be a jerk chicken with rice and peas i have to make in so i've been craving something from like mom's kitchen so some jerk chicken tomorrow rice and peas like a mingo cabbage slaw and maybe some fried plate it's um yeah so i think that's gonna that's going to be it for the next couple of days ah um family family is super important to me i have a close relationship with my family but i also feel like family of choice is also incredibly important right if your family origin doesn't quite do it for you i understand that not everybody has a has a good relationship or a close relationship perhaps no family has passed away friends community like same thing to me huge support system i call my friends my family two and these days i had been traveling for a bit from like august like mid last month um got to catch up with a few friends which was absolutely wonderful and then for the folks who were here at home i'm getting back to seeing them as we so there's been a couple of babies born i'm enjoying anti life and supporting friends in that new chapter of their of their journey oh it's been really nice so tomorrow get to help a friend like her husband has to go travel little bit further for work tomorrow so i'm gonna walk it a dog for them and then i hold lie hat do you ned to do old laundry judices whatever it is i'm there to help

[mark]: awesome i love it i love it it's so grounding tell me how did you get into technology

[azure_mcfarlane]: good question i feel like it's kind of a maybe like a bit of a piecemeal thing so i never thought i would go into tech per se like my degrees and is in by a chemistry and i ended up in the farmasitaple industry had wanted to go to me school at the time my mom was really sick at the time i was taking you know my medical intresixsams somebody's got to pay so i turned to farm suitochools but when i was younger i worked in a computational chemistry lab at a university i interned i really loved chemistry and in the slab was like using lynics to analyze ring structures molecular ring structures for chemotherapy targets and so this software that we're using would tell you the distance between rim structures bond energies bond length if you change around what happens to them which i thought was really cool i don't think i ever really saw i could do with it in the future to be honest um and then i discovered power platform after working you know for years in the farm citico industry i think i'd been there about nine years this was back end of twenty nine team so this was about three years ago three years ago and kind of fell head over heels for power automat and that's kind of how i got into tech so taught previous company i found i worked for s k taught their first power platform camp or at least the power automat section of it got invited to do that got introduced the community a couple months later started doing some frances and quite frankly i didn't even though it's teaching other people power automat power apt to get into tech and they were getting jobs i actually didn't feel confident enough to step into the tech world for some for whatever reason you call it impostor centre maybe um but i had gotten a data analyst job that was really strictly power platform at transition rules and then earlier this year made fall into consulting so that's a quick the shorthand story

[mark]: that that that that is awesome you know when you say you in your involvement in power is an you mention their power automate is that your kind of is that your flag flagship technology that you are the guru on or is it is it any of the other power suit

[azure_mcfarlane]: i do powerautomate that's really where i would say specialize in i do canvas apse as well a little bit of model driven i've been getting into r p over the passes once arabi is i've built like a dash border to but not quite my not quite my wheel house at the moment but yeprautomate is i love it a lot i know about the rest of the power platform to be honest when i was introduced to powerautomate um and just kind of moved with that and then discover the other bits and pieces of it and now it's just it a whole thing there's always something to learn which is what i really love about i really love about the platform so keeps me engaged in i love working at it

[mark]: i love it i love it what do you have and i always ask people that are involved in power auto mate do you have so it's two questions one question is do you have any automation that you've created for your personal life and then

[azure_mcfarlane]: i do

[mark]: do you have any automations that you have done for your professional life but they're more for you round you you personal productivity rather

[azure_mcfarlane]: sure

[mark]: than the automation where you're automating a business or organizational process

[azure_mcfarlane]: sure yeah so a challenge for me when i was learning r p is what's what's a good use case because you can get r pa at home like if you have a windows tenneralof when there's a leven machine and so my task was what can i do with it and i made a flow desttopflow that i can upload covidtestory enversment receits so here in the states um if you buy like over the counter covidtest you can get reimbursed by an insurance company and so i made a flow that i can just snap a pot over seat up into one drive in press a button and it'll uploadit to the the insurance website for me and then i just wait for the reimbersement in the mail so that was that was a fun one for for me to do

[mark]: nice that's good that's practical it's yeah very smart

[azure_mcfarlane]: yeah a buddy of mine shforash he just put out something with prabsonrasberry pie to control lights and he's doing a whole series on you tube right now that's kind i think it's going to be like my next venture to be like i want to control i have a dumb house instead of a smart house so i would to learn how to do some things to empower my home and then let me see for work i had things like to remind me to submit expense reports time sheets most recently i come back i was on a business trip and i had all of these receipts right overseas i'm notorious for losing receipts or they get so folded up in your wallet or whatever they kind of fade so i just created a really quick power apt to snap a photo of the receipt to how is everything and just up loaded it to share point and then just use i was going to use power automat to put it just into like an excell spread sheet and then upload it to dynamics um and use it that way so for me that was a lot better than having to manually he in things on two different ends or have to keep track of our seat like car like an envelope and just your seats n there and then hope you seem over the course of two weeks oh

[mark]: what's what's the craziest or the most empowered you know that you have seen uh power automat used that it really created a massive amount of impact to people inside an organization um where you are just like this is like next level about employe productivity or you know stream lining a process that might have been inherently um bog down um with with data being copied between systems things like that anything jumped to mind

[azure_mcfarlane]: hm so many i have to be honest like that's what i love about this platform that it can do it can do so much in a personal experience we had a safety team at a previous organization that i worked at that was five months behind in their safety investigations attrition right running multiple farm suitical plants at the same time it was kind of hard to juggle everything so they just had a share point list where people were entering in information and then beyond that it was one share point two thousand ton work flow that would send an email just to notify managers that something had happened and then in behind the scenes it was the safety team was creating documentation for you know the effect employed to fill out trying to get approval from their manager potentially from their director all this data gathering they have to do all of this just by hand um they didn't have a status list of anything everything was just like this very manual process maybe a white board a couple of sticky notes and i was able to automate the entire for them the only time that they got involved was when the person had filled out their paper work um and there was a confirmation right because we just use approvals and power automat that's when they stepped in and said oh we can start our investigation but upstream to that they didn't need to worry about if um an incident had happened right because there's people work that needed to be that needed to happen within twenty four hours now if it was like a cool incident of course they get involved s a p but it was some of these minor incidents like a potential accident um were just waiting until you know like they received the filled up paper work and the button you know was was the indicator like okay for the person on the side that was feeling it out like it's done and then it would update a share point list for them and then send teams message out to the safety team to be like okay so once fill up their paper work go ahead and for seen one that i saw at power platform conference in september which i thought was like an amazing use case was um somebody automated a virtual machine creation for there the like their site um and so what was a you know they could customize what kind of machine that they needed could figure out like what the costs were going to be associated with it all using adaptive cards and teams which i thought was incredible

[mark]: that's very cool

[azure_mcfarlane]: use case yeah and people would normally have to call like it in order to make this happen wait for calculations to be done right so people on the back and were also doing it and then it just eliminated really like a at least half of a work stream for it t that they didn't need to get involved until this machine needed to kind of be built um m so many

[mark]: it's so cool

[azure_mcfarlane]: so many great use cases i've seen marketing campaigns powered out of power automate um things that were manual tracking and excell that no longer have to be done in excel um yeah there's there's so many great use cases things that i've never even thought of because it's just not something that i've needed to do so i love that it's so expansive that people can just make it their own for whatever business use case that it is i've seen people powering their tesla's using power apps

[mark]: wow it's cool

[azure_mcfarlane]: just eopleget really

[mark]: very cool

[azure_mcfarlane]: really creative with the platform

[mark]: tell me about your journey to becoming an m v p

[azure_mcfarlane]: oh okay back in twenty twenty i did my first two virtual conferences because pandemic and when i had done those i had some folks reaching out to me on twitter asking if i'd be nominated and i hadn't and i didn't know what m v p was to be honest and the one thing folks kept telling me was you're missing this community piece you're missing this community piece and community by way of youtuber blog that was like folks were telling you that i needed and at the time a blog well let's be honest i bought it of man i haven't done anything with it but at the time that was a little too much effort for me if i was to be honest because my job i was working twelve plus hours a day was already teaching you know a boot camp you know a previous employer had come up with criculum for that and so i just felt like oh if all this is to a blog er youtube channel i don't know if this is for me so i just kind of kept doing my thing i was teaching but camp posting some work on twitter doing some demos i was teaching for it still am or power platform school which is an up scaling school for um like black folks between the u k and in the u s or you know blacker n of african descent and was teaching there as well kind of just being a busybody and not really thinking about the p s thing and one day a friend reaches out hey what's your email i was like i get my email next thing i know i get hey you've been nominated for v p was like wait a minute i didn't think that i was qualified for it because i didn't have you know to block and this friend john lavac who used to work for microsoft he was like hey it's not just about having that kind of visibility it's about building community and if the people who talk to you know that very strongly you like to do it doesn't necessarily have to be like out in the open so it was kind of an eye opener for me to be honest because i think in my mind from what some folks have told me it was i had to be like out there visible all the time creating content and just at that point in time it just i didn't have enough time for it or i was creating content but it was more internal you know for for people at work i was helping to run like the internal community you know and this was separate from my job this was just because i loved it so then the notification system broke so i never actually i think i got nominated like last february and every month i'd see the tweets come and people were like hey i got you know one i v p and i was like well i guess i just didn't get it at all and somebody else somebody else was like wait again like it's been seven months at this point i haven't you why haven't you gotten and i was like i don't know so they re submitted me and they're like so you've already been submitted it says your application is still pending but that doesn't make any sense like it should take this long and then it turns out like that efication system was broken and i got an email from micrself was like sorry it's been broken you'll hear something soon and then you know it as awarded and in december of last year which was really exciting it was it was like the icing on the cake for all of the stuff that you already do like m v p wasn't on my bucket list i would say it wasn't something i was gunning for but to know that my efforts in the community are not going unnoticed or you know that they're valuable it's a it's a really sweet gesture to be awarded m p her

[mark]: so you've been in m v p for about a year now what impact as it had for you personally

[azure_mcfarlane]: my gosh some lot i fell into like a new career so you know like officially intact i'm in transition right now but it afforded me the opportunity to walk into you know interviewing people like we already know who you are and i was like oh that's that's strange never had that before it's not like that in parma um a lot more i would say just like people want to learn from you opportunities and i think it's a it's it's neat to be able to just coach people you know if they need help on a flow or i've got some mentis at this point older and younger than me who are looking to get into tack or looking to make a transition in a way it's like it's changed a lot and then also nothing at all in a sense because i'm still doing the same things that i was before just get that little bit of a distinction next to it so it's been it's kind of been a wild couple of years i'm not going to lie i just never

[mark]: that's awesome

[azure_mcfarlane]: imagined any any of this and it's really like power platform in general has changed the trajectory of my life very grateful to be here

[mark]: that's so cool last question what's on your radar for the next twelve months

[azure_mcfarlane]: good question i am i'll be teaching power platform school in the spring with a new coort there are couple of events that i'm planning submit ome sessions or so maybe european power platform conference at the moment i've been taking some time to help some of my more junior focus in power platform and encouraging them to apply to conferences so trying to help them get a bit of a stage a bit of a platform as well what else might be organizing some community events and one thing i did want to do this year that i didn't get to was to have a curriculum already drafted for power of it's just not gotten out anywhere so hopefully in the next year that will be something that i can throw on on get hub youtubem i love about this community very much is that there are a lot of free resources right for me i don't think i've never taken a paid class or workshop everything has been available to me at no cost whatsoever and i absolutely want to keep that going so any beginner intermediate space is kind of where i like to stick in terms of teaching things and hopefully i can get that out in the next year somewhere and that might be might be a benefit maybe do some some live workshops to so we'll see

Azure McFarlaneProfile Photo

Azure McFarlane

Azure McFarlane is a Senior Consultant working with Power Platform at Hitachi Solutions in the Washington DC area. She is passionate about people and works with Tech Stylers, a community organization dedicated to bringing more women into tech.