Rotating as a PM in R&D – Hong Kong and Shanghai experience

I started my PM rotation a few week ago and the first task was to help out a project in Hong Kong. It is a cloud project that will servers a million of customers, which is quite exciting. I stayed in CyberPort, a very quiet and peaceful place, located in the very south of Hong Kong island. And that’s also where the office located. From office, you could enjoy nice sea view. And Hong Kong office has a lot of local drinks, even a machine making milk tea.


I was seating in Service floor and it as a quite empty office. People are very busy on the client side I guess. My teammates for this project are all very nice. I learnt a lot from them. Also, I felt quite lucky to gain real project experience on Windows Azure. There are a lot of storage or compute functions designs are unique to cloud computing. After I get a hand on, I begin to realize from on-premises to cloud is definitely cost-consuming. It is not only a configuration change but also architecture change. It is much easier for enterprise to start a cloud project (PaaS) from scratch.

I met Hong Kong DPE team during lunch time. It is quite a young team as my team in Singapore. They are very nice though sometime the conversation switches to Cantonese. We exchanged a lot of information on campaign, technology and all kinds of events. They were inviting me back for a event. However, I am a bit scared about speaking in front of people who are not using English as native language. I did Chinese presentation in Beijing last year in TechEd. That’s also my first Chinese Technical presentation. I have to dedicate time to translate all the technical terms and way of presenting. Overall, it was a unique experience.

Last week’s stress test was a very interesting experience. We were testing on 1000 request/sec. Under this high workload, some abnormal behavior began to pop-up. We were so surprise to find out that using SQL Azure is much faster than SQL table storage. This was very different from my demo tested in Singapore data center. Again, it is on the cloud so you couldn’t really find out physically which machine handles your storage and monitor why it is slow.

I arrived Shanghai 10 days ago. And I met Xibei at my birthday. I wasn’t plan to celebrate in Shanghai, but just having a relax day with some old friends. In addtion, I have already celebrated my birthday in Singapore with friends and teammates. Xibei’s arrival was truly a surprise. It reminds me of my birthday two years ago in New York. That was truly a blast.

My low energy period is finally over. I was quite tired last month after last travelling to US. It was a big trip from Paris- Bulgaria-Amsterdam-New York-Vegas-SanF-Seattle. Currently I am working as a PM, and will be staying in Shanghai for a few weeks. First task is to finalize design of a tool and manage the development process. There are a number of discussions with developers, testers, designers and other PMs in the team. Clearly, there were a few arguments. As a PM, one of the important things are not only bringing in good ideas but also defense for your idea. There are usually many opinions around one particular features and all of them have different advantages. PMs need to make decision to end the discussion with best solution possible.

I’m happy with what I am doing now. This learning experience is totally new to me. I begin to understand how products made in Microsoft. PM work involves a lot of thinking. Also, it is always good for a PM to open eye and see how competitors are doing in the industry. After comparing different solutions and learning newest technology, PMs should bring back those best practices as suggestions during new product planning. That’s how a better product could be made.

I got to know a senior PM from Redmond last week. He was visiting Shanghai with his family. I had a very happy memory with this family for touring Shanghai. I would never want to do that by myself. He is quite well-known in developer community and spoke at a lot of important conference such as PDC and MIX. He spent descent amount of time with developer community, friendly and compete. He also organized a advisory board for his product, in order to get customer feedback in time. I was impressed by his work. Moreover, initially, I was thinking of working on a consumer product in the future. But now I feel, maybe a developer tool is better for me. I am really enjoying of communicating with developer community.

Overall, it was a very smooth beginning. I am quite familiar with R&D team here. Looking forward to learn more in the following three months time. It is a fantastic beginning for my 25 :)

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