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Power Couple Interview: Reza Rad and Leila Etaati

By Delaney Freer posted Jul 02, 2020 08:14 AM


@Reza Rad and @Leila Etaati are both Microsoft MVPs, User Group All Stars & Academy instructors, well-known international speakers, best-selling authors, and avid bloggers about the Microsoft Power Platform - the true definition of a 'Power Couple'. 

Dynamic Communities (DC): Leila, you were the first Microsoft AI MVP in New Zealand and Australia. What does that mean to you?

Leila Etaati (LE):
I was energized (and still am) by anything AI. Even the time that I was Data Platform MVP, I always did the data science and AI parts of it, and evangelized those parts. That led me to become the first AI MVP or let’s say double-sided MVP of AI and Data Platform in the AU/NZ region. That helped me a lot to convey the message about AI to the community and help it to grow. I still these days enjoy working with AI technologies and helping others to learn about it. Through my courses, conference speakings, blogs, videos, etc.

DC: What is your favorite part about the Power Platform Community?

Reza Rad (RR): I like all our community members. They are like family to me. I made many friends in the Power Platform community. When I travel around it is like I have a family there and I am going to visit my friends and families. Not only to talk about the technologies we use and love (Power Platform) but anything else. The most valuable part of the community, I believe, is the connections and having so many good friends.

LE: Being part of the Power Platform community means to find new family members, friends who share the same interests and passion for Power Platform (Power BI, Power Apps, and Power Automate). It does not feel a work community to me; I can call it a friendship group that has common work interests.

"It does not feel a work community to me; I can call it a friendship group that has common work interests." - Leila Etaati

Community Summit Australia 2020 DC: What is the best place that you have presented at?

RR: I like it when I present at a place like Orlando because I take a few days before and after it to enjoy theme parks there. I love it when I present in Europe with so much history and art, and in New Zealand and Australia, I always feel home. In all of these places, the thing I enjoy most is the interaction with the audience. The audience of my sessions gives me the energy that I can’t find in any other place or meeting.

LE: It is hard to choose between them. I love Orlando conferences as they held in a big venue with many audiences and a variety of topics and, of course, close to theme parks. I like Europe, as we meet different types of audiences compare to the USA, NZ, and Australia. Of course, the conference in NZ and AUS region always feel home and always enjoy them.

DC: With all of your travel together, do you have any travel traditions?

RR: I enjoy lounges at airports and sitting in the airplanes. It sounds crazy, but you can ask Leila about it. When I sit on a plane, I have energy. I like to spend my time there very wisely. I plan it carefully. I often travel to the airport very early. I enjoy sitting at the lounge for hours rather than doing things in a rush.

LE: Meet different airports, and different cultures are one of the exciting parts of it. Also, I have a habit of collecting fridge city magnetic as it reminds me of the travel we have to that city. Also, I do my best to bring some New Zealand Chocolate and some small Kiwi bird sign and give away in my sessions.

What is the best feature in Power Platform and why?

I am the Power BI person. So for me, anything to do with Power BI. I am a fan of dataflows because it helps to have a better-organized data model. I like working with DAX calculations and solving challenges around that.

LE: I like, of course, Power BI and also Power Automate as both can bring a more comfortable life for creating data transformation and reporting or for automating the process. As a person interested in AI topics, all features regarding AI in Power Platform from visuals and Automated ML in Power BI to AI Builder in Power Apps and Power Automate is interesting to me.


DC: What’s one thing a person might not know about what goes into creating Academy training classes?

RR: Creating Academy classes takes a lot of time. Preparing the content for me wasn’t a big problem because I use lots of content from my blogs and videos. But if you jump straight into creating a course without having the content, this will take a long time to prepare. Another thing is to keep your content up-to-date, especially with the fast pace of changes in the Power BI world.

Creating material for an Academy class can be related to how much we know about a specific topic and how these contents can be organized to presented for half-day, full-day, or even two-day course. For myself, I always have a series of blog posts on specific topics that help me to create materials easy for even a week-long course.

"I often hear from my course students that they got a promotion in their jobs because of the learning and implementing it. This, for me, is the most valuable result." - Reza Rad

DC: Do you have a favorite “success story” from a student?

RR: I do have a lot of those stories. I often hear from my course students that they got a promotion in their jobs because of the learning and implementing it. I even hear that people moved to have their own business; they become MVPs, coaches, and trainers. This, for me, is the most valuable result of the course. I get the feeling that I managed to guide them to the right path.

LE: I've heard from many students that my sessions or books were an inspiration for them to start their journey in the AI and data science field. Some people start to speak and even become a Microsoft MVP, and some get promotions in their current job. All these successes make me feel energized and continue my community activity. I thank them for sharing their experiences with my course or session. 

DC: What are you most proud of the other accomplishing professionally?

RR: For me, Leila is the reason why RADACAD exists. Without her, there won’t be such a thing, the blog, the academy, everything. Leila is *the Ideas lady* and she has fantastic ideas. Not only am I proud of her being a well-known international speaker and MVP, but I am mainly proud of her abilities than the titles. She can take something from ground zero and raise it up to the sky-high.

LE: Reza is the role model not just for me but many other community members and other Microsoft MVPs. I consider him a great colleague and team member who encourages and supports all of us in the Auckland Power BI User Group. I always learn about how to manage work and how to be inspirational from him.

Catch this Power Couple leading these Upcoming Academy training classes



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