EPISODE 2: SEARCH MAVEN AGNES MOLNAR

Heather Newman: All right. Hello everybody, it's Heather Newman with you with Creative Maven here at Microsoft Ignite and talking to a longtime colleague and friend, Agnes Molnar and talking with people who are mavens, experts in their field. I think she's definitely a maven in tech. How are you today?

Agnes Molnar: Hello everyone. Hi Heather. Thank you. I'm quite exhausted because it's been a long day, long week, but at the same time I really feel very good. It's an amazing and very interesting even.

Heather: Wonderful. So Agnes tell everybody a little bit about your awesome company. So female woman owned business. Yes?

Agnes: Yes, absolutely. So, what I do is I do trainings and consulting and also in person workshops about enterprise search and SharePoint and Office 365 and, well the name of my company is Search Explained, and I think it describes everything I do. I explain search in the language that makes sense for everyone. If I talk to business, I try to talk their language. If I talk to end users, I like to talk their language, so I really, I really like, you know, just explaining things, how it works, how you can make it work because search is like magical black box for a lot of people. So you'll get the content in and you get some results out. This magic is actually, it's complex, but it's not magic.

Heather: Right. I think you’re magic. So that's awesome. You have a lovely accent. Where are you from?

Agnes: I am from Budapest, Hungary, central Europe.

Heather: That's wonderful. Budapest. It's one of my favorite words to say ever.

Agnes: We pronounce several things a little bit differently. We pronounce Budapest.

Heather: That's awesome. How long have you been in IT?

Agnes: Since my birth I would say no, not really. It's, it's been a long story because, you know I was born in central Hungary in a very small town in a very poor family. We didn't have computer. We, I mean, yeah. And, even in the school where I was in elementary school, they did have computers, but only in the eighth grade you were allowed to go to the computer room which had 16, Commodore 4s and Commodore 16s. And so it was a big thing to get to that room. but I was very good at math, so my teacher, my math teacher allowed me to go to the computer room in the fifth grade, with the eighth-grade boys and girls, which was a very cool thing. I spent a lot of my time and often was in the computer room, but at the beginning I, in the fifth, sixth grade I wanted to become a doctor. So I thought, okay, it's fun to play. I mean, play with computer. I was writing code, so I was developing games

Heather: So, you came out of the womb writing code?

Agnes: Just a, just for fun. So I didn't have any plans with that. I thought it's just fun. And then I don't know why I was in the seventh grade maybe when my teacher asked me, “Why don't you want to learn this?”, because those days at the universities, we already had computer science and those kinds of things. So, she asked me, “Why don't you do this?”, and I am like, is it possible? So I went to high school. I did almost the same there, but I still didn't, I didn't have a computer at home. I got my first pc when I was 17 and yeah, after, I mean at the the end of the high school I applied to the Budapest University of Technology and Economics to, for computer science. And, yeah, I've been there and stayed there. I mean, yeah, I mean it's, it was a very fun part of my life. I started my studies at the university, but after a few months my parents told me that I didn't have money for it anymore. So they wanted me to move back home and start doing something, you know, that I make money with and you know, I am, I can be, I don't know the right word.

Heather: Formidable?

Agnes: Yeah. So, basically what I figured out, okay, I'm going to start work, but I'm not going to home. I'm staying at the university, I'm doing my studies and work at the same time. So, I started to work, you know, the school year starts in September and I started to work in January. The same semester actually. My very first semester. So it, yeah, it was seven years until I've got my diploma in the end, but by the end of my studies I've got six and a half years of work experience as well. So it was really, really hard at some points. But now I am, I am very happy for that.

Heather: That's amazing. And you persevered through the whole, you just kept going and going and going.

Agnes: So, from the point of when I've got my first salary, you know, after the first month, because in Hungary we get salaries each month, not, you know, not every two weeks. So when I've got my first salary, I haven't accepted a penny from my parents anymore. Nothing. I was like, okay, you wanted me to work. I do that, I do that for myself. Just, you know, to be able to continue my studies and everything and yeah, it was, it was a big thing.

Heather: I can see from the smile on your face. That's something to be proud of.

Agnes: I am.

Heather:  Yeah. You should be, you know, because that's a big deal to be able to fend for yourself.

Agnes: Yeah. So back to your question, I was 11 when I started to play with the computer. In other words, when I started to write code and yeah, since then I've been doing that in different things, but still with computers.

Heather:  When did you start with SharePoint?

Agnes: It was in 2001 with SharePoint, 2001. I was working with a company who just became a Microsoft Partner at that time and they wanted to do a proof of concept, which was really funny because it was a Windows application that use the SharePoint search API to get data from Exchange. And the funny part was I was a developer. I was responsible for the back end. So, I use the SharePoint API to get data from Exchange, but for more than a year I didn't realize that SharePoint had a user interface as well. So, for me at that time SharePoint was an API, but my next project was to work with SharePoint from user perspectives to create some content management or whatever. And Yeah. And after that, you know, I've got the stamp on my hand that I know SharePoint, so at that company and at my next, employers as well, they, I did several other things, but I always got back to SharePoint.

Heather:  And when did you start your business?

Agnes: Actually, it's my second business. Yeah. I started the first one which is still alive, it's a funny thing. When my first son was born, who is 11 and a half now, we founded a company with my husband, which is a software developer company. what they do, I mean my husband still runs that company, so that's the funny part. They do SharePoint development, custom applications and all those things. So I, I used to work there for about three years, then I decided to leave and when I left the company that I had founded with my husband, a lot of people thought we have got divorced as well. No, it was not the case. I just wanted to do something else. So yeah, I started working as an employee again for a company based in the US. Um, but I still lived in Hungary, so it was a really funny two and a half years. And then I left that company and finally I founded this company four and a half years ago.

Heather: Okay. It's been a while then. Do you love running your own business?

Agnes: I do, yes. It gives me, you know, it gives me the freedom, you know, raising three children is really challenging.

Heather: Yes. Good on you sister.

Agnes: Uh, so yes, I, I don't know how other mothers do that. I mean working mothers do that, but I really need the flexibility and freedom that I get when I run my own business. Of course it has another tradeoffs that I have to deal with it, but it's, I think it's the best for me and the best for my family as well.

Heather: That's great. So, um, in a sort of women in tech area or just, I know you read a lot, you know, you're looking at different things education-wise. Is there anybody that sort of lately or in the last bit that you really like what they're saying. women out there who have blogs or books or talking about different issues or writing or any of that stuff. Is there anybody you pay attention to?

Agnes: I know you are not expecting this one, I swear, but my answer is you.

Heather:  I didn't pay her to say that actually. Thank you.

Agnes: No, but really, whatever you write on medium and your Facebook posts and everything, you gave me so much inspiration. I really mean that. So if anybody asked me I would say the same.

Heather:  Wow. That's. We’ll all right then. Thank you. Absolutely. That's great. Well, cool. And for this show, you know, there's been lots of announcements. What are you sort of taking away from Ignite this year that's pertinent to you or just think pertinent to SharePoint in general?

Agnes: Yeah, I think there are a lot of very cool things and the amazing announcements here. To be honest, I cannot be as excited as many people are, not because they are not cool announcements because they are really cool. But first some of them are not related to my expertise. Second, some of them are kind of not messaging the way I expected or not communicating the way I expected. But anyway, it's a cool conference. And, and the announcements are really cool. I just really have a lot to do with, you know, I have to digest everything

Heather:  You’re expected to talk to people and they're asking you questions and so you have to have that filter of like I am taking in all this information, trying to understand it regardless of how it's messaged, and be able to put it back out into the community as a community leader. I mean, you're an influencer, you're a leader, you know? How many times have you been awarded all kinds of great things, you know, like lots, right?

Agnes: Yep. Absolutely. So back to the beginning of my conversation, I want to be able to explain it to everyone.

Heather: That's the point of your company, right?

Agnes: Yeah, exactly.

Heather: That's great. Yeah. my last question for you is, I'm very interested in sort of those moments, be they big or micro that spark us to do something or that change us or, that something that happened in our life, it can be, you know, about business, something in business or you know, just something that really, that you kind of recall as, maybe something that lit you up in a way that changed something for you or you know, something.

Agnes: It's a really interesting, you know, because, you know, I travel a lot for events and conferences and many people think that it's exhausting. And as a mother of three, I should stay home more and those kinds of things. Actually, even if I travel for business and even if I travel for fun, I am busy when I travel, those are kind of me time when I have time and you know, I can be away from my home, my work, everything, to reflect. And so usually I get those moments when I travel.

Heather:  Yeah, yeah. I get your little sparks. I feel the same way. I love, I love that there's the, I love my home, I love going home. There's something about, you know, a super clean hotel room that you can mess up

Agnes: And I don't know, like right now the contrast is not the same because we still, and it's a stupid thing. We still have a very good weather in Hungry, but I am here in Orlando every year for another conference, which is always in November or December when we already have winter. So those trips are always amazing for me because you know, I can get sunshine, I can, it's warm and everything. So even if I work hard then I don't know. I have lots of meetings and I do workshops every year and, and those kind of things. It's always like a vacation for me as well and I always go back with new ideas.

Heather: Energized.

Agnes: Yes, exactly, exactly.

Heather:  Well, so everybody, this is Agnes Molnar. She's fantastic and worked in SharePoint for a long time. She's a, I will call her a search maven for sure. She is an expert in that field. she has her own wonderful company Search Explained, she's doing blogs and she has wonderful courses and she's doing webinars and all of that stuff. And where can we find that on the web? Where can we find you on the web?

Agnes: You can find me at the SearchExplained.com

Heather: So, Agnes, lovely. Thank you so much.

Agnes: Thank you Heather.

Heather: You're welcome. And I really didn't pay her to say that, but I really appreciate that.

Agnes: Not yet you didn't.

Heather:  We'll get you later. No. So anyway, so I'm talking podcasts for Creative Maven and everybody, let's lift each other up and have a great day. Thanks.

Heather Newman

Heather Newman is an award-winning marketing maven, technology entrepreneur and an epic connector that brings many worlds together. She has extensive experience marketing products and services for Enterprise businesses, startups and emerging markets. Heather builds plans and processes that are nimble, human and different. She is an adept storyteller and is passionate about growth for both employees and the corporate bottom-line. Heather hails from the arts and the bulk of her career has been working with the largest technology companies in the world (Microsoft, Google, Amazon, NetApp, Hewlett Packard, and Dell). Her nineteen years of experience working at technology companies and building global high-tech marketing strategy has driven millions of dollars of revenue and multiple award-winning campaigns. She has led global marketing teams for many technology companies including AvePoint, IT Unity & KnowledgeLake. Heather was a part of the original Microsoft SharePoint Marketing team. During her tenure, she helped launch multiple versions of the product, build the SharePoint Partner Ecosystem and conceived of and produced the first three Microsoft SharePoint Conferences. Creative Maven has produced thousands of global marketing campaigns and events. Currently CM is focusing on go to market strategies for Microsoft and its partners as well as a new site sister site launching in 2015 called Marketingfixer.com. Heather also serves as Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Content Panda, an innovative technology startup looking to actively disrupt how content is delivered inside software.