Talking Microsoft Teams with Pouneh and Karuana

I’m sure some of you are wondering if I am still writing regular articles, or focusing more on video. Well, I’ve just about caught up with my video and podcast backlog, and am wrapping up two major research projects (both will be available later this month), and will soon move back into a normal content cadence….to work through the other backlog, completing and publishing the 50+ articles sitting in draft mode. Not exaggerating. But for this quick post, I wanted to share the conversation I had while at the Microsoft MVP Summit while visiting campus early last month, sitting down with long-time friends and former-community-members-turned-blue-badges Pouneh Kaufman (@pminovi) and Karuana Gatimu (@karuana) to talk about Microsoft Teams in this latest installment of the Digital Sack Lunch video series.

Image result for pouneh kaufmanFor those who don’t know Pouneh and Karuana, the two were involved with and ran the Los Angeles SharePoint User group (#LASPUG) for a number of years. When I met Pouneh back in 2010, she was the Executive Director of Technology Solutions for Warner Brothers down in Burbank, California, and was there up until joining Microsoft just over a year ago, where she is currently the Director and Principal Program Manager in End User Services Engineering — Team Productivity. What does she do? From her LinkedIn profile, her team is focused on Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business, and “applying end user insights and partnerships with engineering and business stakeholders to influence product direction, validating product readiness and enabling rich productivity experiences.”

One area where Microsoft has made noticeable improvement over the past decade is in trying to understand the end-to-end user experience — which may include multiple products and platforms from Microsoft, as well as technologies outside of the ecosystem. Satya Nadella talked about this in his first keynote after taking over the role of CEO a few years back, telling an audience at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) that Microsoft’s goal is to create the best software in the world (I’m paraphrasing), but where Microsoft does not have the best solution, or does not offer a solution at all, the company would ensure that their software and solutions integrated with the best solutions. In other words, the shift that has been underway has been to view technology through the eyes of the end user to understand. The company still has a long way to go, for sure, but for those who have worked at or with Microsoft over the last decade, the change has been huge. While there may have been small teams or individuals who had similar roles to Pouneh a decade or more ago, it was never to this extent, which is cool to see.

Many of you probably know Karuana by name, if not having interacted with her at some point. I met Karuana in late 2009 or early 2010, and then teamed up with her to create the inaugural SharePoint Saturday Los Angeles event in late 2010. At the time, she was a Senior Director of e-commerce and marketing at Skechers (the shoe company) where she owned SharePoint, among other systems and platforms. You can find her on LinkedIn here). She joined Microsoft a couple years later to help establish a strategy and adoption team at Microsoft around discovery and adoption, which included a focus on SharePoint, Yammer, BI, and enterprise search — which led to her participating in the creation and launch of Microsoft Teams. She now serves as a Principal program Manager on the Microsoft Teams Engineering team. She is also heavily involved in the Women in Technology (WIT) community efforts, and is often a key driver of these topics at Ignite, Inspire, and other events around the world. She also hosts the Coffee in the Cloud show on YouTube & Channel 9.

I share this detail because it helps put some of the discussion in the video below into perspective, and helps demonstrate that the two of them have rich experiences from the front-lines of the community, and are taking those experiences and your feedback and trying to make the technology that Microsoft provides better. That’s a key point that we discuss at the start of the video: how Microsoft listens to the community, and is attempting to make that feedback — and their planning and actions — transparent to all of us.

Check out this episode of the Digital Sack Lunch to learn more:

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.