Charles Sterling Biography

Charles Sterling (Chuck) came to Microsoft from being a marine biologist working for United States National Marine Fisheries doing marine mammal research on the Bering Sea. He started out at Microsoft supporting Excel and moved through a couple of support teams to being an escalation engineer for Microsoft SQL Server. Taking his love for customers (and diving), Chuck moved to Australia as a product manager and developer evangelist for the .NET Framework. In 2008 he moved back to Redmond as a Visual Studio program manager then joined the Power Platform group focusing on Power BI and now continues his community passion and looking after the PowerApps influencers and MVPs.

In his off time Chuck likes to do this own Mythbusters/Roadkill type projects with such as:

To see Charles-Sterling’s 25 years at Microsoft check out his resume

Latest sessions I have been delivering:

An all demo view of Microsoft’s new Power platform

While you are probably already familiar with Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow; you may not know that Microsoft is bringing these tools together into a unified brand called: the Microsoft Power platform.  In this session Microsoft Senior Program Manager, Charles Sterling will give an all demo introduction to these products AND how you can use these products together with other offerings such as their new database engine called Common Data Service for Apps and Microsoft Forms to create very sophisticated “no code/low code” solutions for Business Analysts and  citizen developers.

If we are going to do this in a two part series:

Part 1. Introduction to PowerApps

Build apps in hours—not months—that easily connect to data, use Excel-like expressions to add logic, and run on the web, iOS, and Android devices.  In this session we will walk through how to get started with PowerApps and quickly build applications that solve business problems quickly and do not a development background using a point-and-click approach to app design and Excel-like expressions. Publish your app to the web, iOS, Android, and Windows 10. It’s that easy.  This session will also cover Microsoft Flow, a powerful workflow automation that integrates directly into your apps with a no-code approach that connects to hundreds of popular apps and services.  Data is at the core of every app. We make it easy to get your data into your apps with more than 200 connectors for many popular cloud services and even your on-premises data.

Part 2. Introduction to Power BI

In this session, Charles Sterling will introduce Power BI, a suite of business analytics tools that takes your data and delivers insights throughout your organization. Connect to hundreds of data sources, simplify data prep, and drive ad hoc analysis. Produce beautiful reports, then publish them for your organization to consume on the web and across mobile devices. Everyone can create personalized dashboards with a unique, 360-degree view of their business. And scale across the enterprise, with governance and security built-in.  Demos to include creating reports, access data from the web PowerApps integration and putting it all together with purpose built Dashboards…all built with every day computer skills.

What is new and exciting in Power BI

With weekly and monthly releases, there are a lot of fantastic new features to explore in Power BI. In this session, we will review what’s been released lately, including the new collaboration features in the cloud-based service, the new authoring and modeling features of Power BI Desktop, new Power BI resources, and finally what’s new for developers leveraging the Power BI platform.

Data Visualization best practices with Power BI Desktop

By the end of this course with Charles Sterling, you gain a better understanding of the best practices and components that influence communicating data visually. Specifically gain familiarity with Power BI report layouts and structure the agile process to creating Power BI data visualizations. Understand the art behind visualizations, implications behind choosing the right charts, the impact of color, shape and size, and finally the use of Power BI custom visuals.

Story Telling with Power BI Desktop

Join Power BI World Tour favorite Senior Program Manager, Charles Sterling as he delves into the data storytelling components of Power BI. By the end of this sessions, you will gain a better understanding of how to communicate data more effectively through storytelling. This all demo session will focus on Power BI Desktop in action (Bookmarks, Q&A, Explain the Increase, Drill Through, Page Report Tooltips) to help you  to tell stories with your data and help users navigate your reports.

Power BI Administration & Governance

Microsoft Power BI administration is the management of a Power BI tenant, including the configuration of tenant settings, usage monitoring, and provisioning of licenses, and other organizational resources. The job is to make business users productive and ensure security and compliance with laws and regulations. This session covers the typical admin tasks and tools, such as Power BI admin portal and Office 365 admin center, and how to automate them by using administrative APIs and PowerShell cmdlets.

Power BI Hands-On Administrator in a Day

Need to come up to speed fast on the administration for Power BI? Then this all day course is for you!

In this Hands on Session, Charles Sterling, is going to walk through the Microsoft Power BI administration and the management of a Power BI tenant, including the configuration of tenant settings, usage monitoring, and provisioning of licenses, and other organizational resources. The job is to make business users productive and ensure security and compliance with laws and regulations. This session covers the typical admin tasks and tools, such as Power BI admin portal and Office 365 admin center, and how to automate them by using administrative APIs and PowerShell cmdlets.  Specific Hands  labs around  using capacities in Power BI, safely sharing Power BI assets and finally using the Power BI audit log to optimize your Power BI Usage.

Community Advocacy and Conference Swag?

I work on a community team and most of my team mates seem infatuated with giving out swag/chachkies.

…And i don’t get it….

Let’s start out with what SWAG and Community are both good for:

  1. Swag > Driving a brand/marketing message.
  2. Community > Creating a connection

If you are in a marketing role releasing a new offering, giving out Swag makes perfect sense. After the event/interaction, those chachkies can potentially remind a would be consumer to investigate the offering.

With community you are cultivating a connection and advocacy…if you have to buy this advocacy with trinkets it is likely going to be short lived and very unlikely to drive any community commitment curve gains.

An Interesting (and accidental) experiment by a team i have interacted with at a large (20K attendees) industry conference was they hosted a booth and gave out chachkies AND had a drawing for a laptop.

Half that team focused on just that interaction…giving out trinkets, answering questions and signing people up to the website.  The other half of the team printed out little fliers and put them on the seats of their presentations where they instructed people how to solve common business problems…With the free samples listed on the fliers.

As you can guess from my introduction the team members that just gave out Swag saw no appreciable climb in their community contribution/growth.  The team members that gave out the fliers pointing out (FREE) samples saw a 300% increase during that conference.


Do shirts have a place in community?


In looking at the community commitment curve it seems this is an effort best focused at the top and people that want to fly your brands colors while they are presenting etc.

Will it make them work harder? …Unlikely but there is a good chance it may make their interactions more effective or help them start conversations.


For people that have seen me present may note the seeming inconsistency that i love tossing out stuff during my presentations….

Worth pointing out, I am just as likely to toss out candy bars as Tshirts AND the effort often involves some sort gamification…meaning i keep track of who gets the most candy bars etc and will introduce myself to this (would-be) advocate after the session.






Webinar 11/13: Advanced data prep with Power BI dataflows for unified data and powerful insights

Look at the all new Power BI dataflows with Program manager Anton Fritz

Power BI dataflows’ public preview is just around the corner, in this session the product team will introduce you the new and advanced capabilities for data-prep in Power BI.  Preparing and defining ETL for insights is significant challenge for businesses today—ingestion, cleansing, transformation, and enrichment are labor-intensive and time-consuming tasks, which require deep technical skills. Power BI now introduces advanced data prep with dataflows—a suite self-service low-code/no-code features and capabilities for business analysts to easily process and unify their data and store it in Azure-based data-lake storage. With these new capabilities, Power BI offers a solution for any business need—whether you want to prep your data with ease, using a familiar built-in Power Query experience, or to leverage the full Azure stack for more advanced use-cases. Join this session to learn how to easily prep your data, leverage Microsoft’s standardized schema, improve time-to-value, eliminate data silos, and create one source of truth for your organizational insights

When: 11/13 8:00AM PST


About Anton Fritz

Anton is an experienced program manager, nowadays focused on delivering innovative problem detection capabilities in cloud applications and infrastructure monitoring domain, leveraging machine learning and data mining technologies. Before coming to the Power BI team Anton worked on the Azure Monitoring team, working on advanced detection and diagnostics capabilities powered by ML algorithms for monitoring hybrid workload environments.

Creating the perfect MVP Summit

Was asked to share some thoughts on creating the Perfect MVP Summit.

Every year we ask MVP’s what they want from the MVP Summit and every year the answers are the same:

  • Insight into the product planning

  • Connection with the product team members

Despite this incredibly simple set of directives we still manage to get this turned around.

Luckily for my MVPs I am an incredibly simple person <grin>.

Let’s start with some anti-patterns I see some of my very smart peers doing:


Having dedicated much of my career to ensuring the community has a voice at Microsoft why the HELL would i suggest this?

Three fold reasons to not do this:

  1. They have asked to see the product plans…how the heck will they know this?
  2. The MVPs will often ask for technologies we aren’t working on…PG* presentations on these topics are waste everyone’s time
  3. With a 100+ MVPs per track guaranteed they won’t get the content they NOW EXPECT and it is a little like burning presents from under a Christmas tree!


These events are used by marketing to convey a picture of how we WANT the technology to be perceived today…

Image result for marketing reality tree swing

Versus the engineering strategy at Microsoft is what we EXPECT the industry need will be in 5 years.  Most engineering efforts will have large feature efforts in ares we haven’t shipped and the MVPs have never seen…

Our internal conference called TechReady may be a better model/resource but using it can other cause anti-patterns



For most conferences preparedness will directly translate to success…why not here?

LESS is More Seriously,

Feature PMs are hired create and ship features (duh) not presentations, so if you hound them into getting you a slide deck early you will likely get some variant of their TechReady, Ignite or BUILD sessions last delivered AND they are vested into presenting AT the MVPs…Exactly what you don’t want.  If you let them run down their own clock they have two choices blow the dust off those presentations anyway or what you want to encourage: Export their backlog to Excel (this what they are working on day in and day out) and pull out their in-flight Storyboards and have a conversation around the stack ranking of the backlog use the storyboards on what they thing implementation could look like.   This very raw delivery ALWAYS be appreciated more AND adds more value to the to the feature team.   Brian Harry is an amazing example of delivering the best MVP sessions…and pretty certain all of his content was created the morning of his sessions.  (remember: never ask questions you do not want the answers to)

So How do I create my MVP Summit agenda? 

Any any organization you are going to have the VP/ or Principal PM; who i typically refer to as: “Da Boss”…This is your track kick off (or track Keynote for lack of a better term).  Da Boss’s session will be to level set how these fit together and the world we see in 5 years.  Under them they will have less then a dozen Group Program Managers who will own 1-2 feature areas under active development…This is your agenda.


Image result for sudoku


The difficulty arises in picking the right presenter(s) and giving them the correct amount of time.   If you have 20 sessions and 20 feature areas it seems like an easy Sudoku exercise….Unfortunately the world isn’t that easy in the investment of TWO feature may make up ~30% of the dev resources and future investment…and the MVP Summit agenda should reflect that!


Area Point Allocation
Keynote/Level Set Arun 2
Dataflow Adi 3
Desktop Kim 2
Service Adam 2
Premium Josh 2
Gateway & Connectors Mahesh 2
AI Richard 2
Flow Stephen 1
PowerApps Ryan 0.5
CDS Ryan 0.5
Excel Ash 1
RS Chris .5
Embedded Nimrod 0.5
Custom Visuals Ranin 0.5
SSAS Christian 1

To be continued!


Best Practices

  • *MVP to MVP Day
  • Office Hours
  • Stream the content
  • Conversations over parties
  • MVP In Residence
  • If you are going to do surveys PLEASE ACTION THEM


MVP to MVP Day

This is a day that the MVPs organize and deliver the content for.  This way they get to share best practices and cover topics we aren’t actively working on.

…Always interesting to have MVPs deliver to Microsoft best practices for features we had built!

Office Hours

While we try and make the normal agenda be a conversation the reality it is about OUR plans/intentions.  This time is dedicated to an open exchange on those topics in a 1:Few setting

Stream the content

With today’s legislation some of my MVPs can not get into the US for this event.  Streaming is no harder than setting up a web cam and sending a skype meeting request.

…I typically put an MVP on point for making sure the Camera is pointed in the right-ish direction but this is NOT hard nor expensive!


To be continued….



Creating a new Azure Active Directory and AAD backed Accounts

For teaching classes or testing access to many Microsoft services is it common to need a new AAD backed account.

Turns out this is both free AND easy as 1-2-3.


Step 1.  Create a new Azure Active Directory.

Log in with any Microsoft Account..If you don’t have one they are also easy to create and can be created here: 

Navigate to Azure Portal at and select the Active Directory blade and select “Create New Directory” the direct link is:

Step 2.  Navigate to Users in Active Directory

In the Active Directory blade select “All users” and then “New User”

Step 3. Create your Test User.

Under the new user dialog fill out their name and user name.  For many use cases like teaching classes, if you need to create hundreds or thousands you can do this via PowerShell as described here:

10/11 Webinar: How to use Power Query and M to create calendar tables with Tristan Malherbe

Calendar tables are an absolute requirement for time-intelligence calculations and best practices in Power BI. In this week’s webinar Power BI MVP Tristan Malherbe will deliver a webinar on how to build a proper calendar table using Power Query and M language.  Demos to include building calendar tables from from scratch! 

Image result for Tristan Malherbe

When: 10/11/2019 10:00AM PST


Tristan Malherbe, a Power Microsoft MVP, a renowned Business Intelligence  Consultant at AZEO and President of the Power BI User Group in France.  As a PUG leader for Power BI in France, Tristan’s passion for the product comes from his interest in solving problems and creating user-friendly applications to support decision making, to analyse or visualise data.  Tristan frequently speaks at both international (PNW Data Symposium, London, Copenhagen, Dublin) and local conferences (Paris meetup, webinars) about advanced data analysis, modelling, and visualization on Power BI. ​