Our MVPs & experts in the spotlight: Nico De Cleyre

Introduce yourself in less than 10 seconds

I’m fundamentally a Microsoft 365 developer and my journey began 10 years ago as a SharePoint developer. Initially, I did an internship at a company that was involved with building and distributing lottery machines, alongside a consultancy branch. My interest in SharePoint was piqued when the HR Manager asked if it intrigued me. My answer was to start self-study and delve into the field. So beginning as a pure backend C# SharePoint developer, my career evolved to a Microsoft 365 developer with the rise of cloud technology.

I grew as a developer by working in a few companies, but eventually, I evolved into more of a technical or development lead role for the last few years. While growing as a development lead, I developed an interest in people management. Eventually, Sam Steen (from Noest) contacted me from that perspective to start the 365 division at Noest, focusing on Power Apps and Power Platform. And that’s what I’m doing currently, together with Klaas Lauwers. But besides my job as Managing Partner of Roboest aan de Leie’, I still love doing my job as a developer as well.

Nico in a nutshell

Expertise
Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Power Platform

Company
Roboest

Favourite apps
Twitter and 9gag

Favourite music
Techno and rock

Best piece of advice
belief in yourself

MVP Nico De Cleyre

How do you kick-start your day?

My day kicks off with waking up and taking my kids to school, followed by either working from home or going to the office. The nature of my work varies greatly from day to day. One day I’m doing project work, the other it’s drafting proposals and recruiting, all shaped by the day’s planning. After I get started, I work continuously until it’s lunchtime. And in the afternoon I finish what the day had in store. During lunch, I always check in with the Microsoft community.

As I said, my work varies from day to day. Sometimes I’m working on a project as a developer, then I switch to drafting quotations for customers or having all kinds of conversations from the Managing Partner perspective. 

However, depending on the workload, I try to stop in time since I greatly value family time, which is crucial in the evening. Finally, I contribute to open-source projects after dinner and finish the day by watching television with my wife.

Do you have certain routines you professionally live by?

There’s a lot of variety in my workday, with no fixed routines, but I always start with a coffee. And I would say that besides coffee, music is a constant as well. It’s my loyal companion for concentration, especially techno and rock, with preferences for Lost Frequencies, Cosmic Gate, Linkin Park, and Green Day. If I start coding with the right soundtrack, the day is done before I’m fully aware of it.

Some of the other MVPs have a few apps, blogs, podcasts or other sources of inspiration that they meticulously check to stay up to date. What about yours?

I do write blogs myself, focusing on development, which is primarily based on my work. My engagement is more profound within the open-source community of Microsoft 365, and though I don’t follow specific blogs, Twitter is a significant platform for me to stay connected with the community.

Did you learn any new habits in the previous year, regarding your professional and personal growth?

Yes, definitely! One thing I try to maintain very accurately is keeping my emails in order. Adopting a ‘zero inbox’ approach has brought me peace and better organization. On a personal note, embracing more extroverted tendencies has been a growth point for me, improving my interactions and effectiveness in roles requiring leadership and knowledge sharing. I used to be more introverted, but after meeting my wife, who is an extrovert, I learned a lot from her, which helps me when it comes to addressing the team or sharing ideas with the community and other peers.

What does ‘growth’ mean to you, both professionally and personally?

Growing as a person involves working on yourself and setting goals that you live towards. For instance, I learned my communication was not good in relationships with people. I started working on that and paying attention to it. If you notice that it’s getting better, you can say that you’ve grown in that area.

Professionally, it’s about keeping up with everything that evolves. Growth is; when there’s something new, jumping on that trend and figuring out what it can do. I’m someone who likes to know a bit about everything, so I grow in width, but in some matters that interest me, I dive deep. Fun fact: they sometimes call me a pitbull because I sink my teeth into material that I can’t let go of.

Constant evolution is of course crucial in IT. There is one obvious trend we need to address, I guess?

AI, and more specifically CoPilot, is a must and we need to keep up with it. I must say, I was surprised about how it has been thrown in our faces and developed so quickly. Because it has evolved so wildly, you have to be on board.

On the other hand, M365 is growing and evolving to such an extent too that some companies tend to skip steps: we have the environment, but no governance; everyone is muddling along for a bit, but what do we do now? This is not necessarily a technical evolution, but I’ve grown in setting up governance as well, which will become more and more important as businesses keep on digitizing further and further. In this regard, following the Microsoft Community Calls helps, as I always attend to hear directly from Microsoft what the latest updates are and which stories the community shares.

But returning to AI, it simplifies tasks and boosts productivity by aiding in creation, analysis, and research across many areas. However, its rapid global introduction has also led to some people feeling panicked, worrying that it might threaten their jobs or be unsure about how to handle it. In my opinion, we don’t need to be worried. It will primarily aid our jobs and also create new ones since it entails a different way of working that creates opportunities, which in turn brings more jobs. However, the way of working changes with AI, and you need to be on board with that evolution.

You already flagged it in your previous answer, but what other tendencies are important to keep in mind besides AI?

Yes, the Power Platform is definitely something to keep an eye on too: it’s about achieving results with low code, which makes it less invasive to start working with. However, you can accomplish a lot in a short time without needing to put in a lot of effort. So it’s something to be involved in as well.

We’re reaching the end of the interview. Do you have any advice you would like to give to anyone related to IT or digitization?

Stay updated with technological evolution. Believe in yourself and don’t hesitate to explore and share knowledge. It’s crucial for growth and making a difference in the IT community. And last, but not least, communication is essential!

Thank you, Nico.