TechStylers … October 2020

Journey to the Power Platform

Our October inspirational meetup was a little bit special.  On Saturday 31st October, our guest was the one and only Charles Lamanna, Corporate Vice President the Low Code Application Platform at Microsoft.

Charles shared the story of his journey to Power Platform with the group, starting with studying aerospace engineering at College.  As with many of us, Charles admitted he didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life, but once he had done an internship with Lockhead Martin, he realised it his future was not necessarily in Aerospace, and decided to change his direction, trying out chemical engineering and pre-med before settling on computer science at the very end of his degree.

After graduation, Charles was offered a job with Microsoft, but after just a few years decided to try to go it on his own with a new product in his own start up, Metrics Hub.  Ironically, that company was acquired by Microsoft in less than a year, and Charles ended up working in Azure which gave him all the right experience and knowledge to eventually to become a leading figure in driving the development of the Power Platform.

Charles firmly believes you have to have belief in yourself, otherwise nobody else will believe in you.  He also thinks that you should take the hard decisions to follow your dreams if you are to achieve them in the end.

Outside of work, Charles told us he is a huge dog-lover and does a lot for animal welfare, and that in his spare time watches a lot of American football.


Foyin then moved onto some of the questions the group had sent in for Charles.  The first one was around career switching to Power Platform from someone who wasn’t sure they were ready to switch from HR.  Charles suggested that one approach could be to learn Power Apps, and develop solutions that were useful within the HR sphere.  The answers Charles gave to some of the groups further questions are shown here.

Q: Which women have influenced your career?

We had a few technical questions, and then I was delighted when Foyin asked Charles one of my questions, which related to which women had influenced Charles in his career and how.  Charles generously credited his colleague Erica Lan who was his Group Engineering Manager, who was one of the few women engineering leaders and who spent the time to mentor and coach Charles when he was fresh out of college.  Aside from building great teams, Erica has a great depth of technical knowledge that has held her in good stead to this day.  Charles freely acknowledges that he has been able to learn and grow through the generosity and support of his colleagues, and that his number one piece of advice is to help others where you can.

Q: How would you address the gender pay gap?

When asked my second question, which was about the gender pay gap, Charles quickly said he finds the pay gap amongst any groups is not acceptable.  He would like to see a greater transparency, tighter legislation and equal representation in leadership roles at a senior level to start to drive the idea of equality forward. 

Q: How can we encourage greater cognitive diversity in tech?

Asked how we can encourage greater cognitive diversity in tech, Charles spoke about how companies like Microsoft can open up different programmes to provide access to specific groups, and also foster an environment of inclusion, so that people can feel comfortable to be their authentic selves at work.  Further to that, he believes that if Microsoft lead by example, many of their Partners will follow, especially if it is made very clear what the minimum expectation in these areas is.

Great answers Charles!

In closing, Charles thanked everyone for being part of the Community, and encouraged everyone to stay engaged as there are a lot of awesome things coming soon.  My personal lesson for the day was … always be ready for whatever opportunities may come your way!

An image showing Charles Lamanna