December Server BG Leads Offsite

This was my last trip in CEE as the CEE Area  IT Pro Lead.  It was a very fruitful discussion around Mid Year Review and H2 Planning.  We had great discussion and sharing of best practices across the region.  The amount of work and creative marketing that these teams can do with such little resources is amazing!  I also had the opportunity to have a great discussion with Gabi.  He is our BG Lead in Romania and he is finishing up his MBA and we had a very interesting discussion on the subject of Influence, Power and Authority.  I had an opportunity to have my last discussion  with my IT Pro Leads in Slovakia and in Czech Republic.  Radim allowed me to volunteer him to present IT Pro execution from Czech Republic.  I will miss Radim and Peter it has been a great experience with them both. 
On the last day we had an opportunity to take a walking tour of Bratislava, Slovakia.  This is one of my favorite cities, such rich culture, stories and absolutely cute village!  Did you know that Bratislava was the capital of the Hungarian-Austrian Empire.  Let me give you some facts on Bratislava from their tourist website.  Known as Pressburg to German-speakers or Pozsony to Hungarian-speakers, Bratislava got its present name only 90 years ago.  But the city has a long and proud history that dates back to pre-Roman times.  The hillsides on the edge of the city have been home to vineyards for centuries, and close to Bratislava are wine towns where you can taste the best – and it is startlingly good! – that Slovakia has to offer.  In the city itself there is plenty to see and do.  Bratislava’s long history – as home to Celts, Romans, Germans, Hungarians, Jews, and of course Slovaks – means there is an impressive range of architecture, languages and cuisine.  The handsome homes of the Austro-Hungarian noble families who built palaces here dot the city, and many of them are now open to the public as museums and galleries.  The castle, with its long and chequered history (it has been destroyed more than once), is now undergoing a major restoration.  There are great views over the mediaeval old town and the Danube valley from its fortifications.  Bratislava was once one of the most important centres of Jewish learning in Europe.  A unique memorial to its most renowned rabbi, the Chatam Sofer, and the city’s Museum of Jewish Culture celebrate this heritage.  Communism too left its mark: across the river, the unmistakable ranks of concrete housing blocks – paneláky in Slovak – line the horizon, with the unique UFO-style New Bridge in the foreground.  The Danube River itself is, of course, one of the city’s main assets.  There are several cafes along its banks, within walking distance of the centre.  The ‘UFO’ itself contains an eponymous bar high above the river.  The pedestrian decks of the New and Old Bridges are good places to watch the river traffic, including huge Danube barges, glide past.  Alternatively, you can take to the water yourself: daily hydrofoil services link the city with nearby Vienna.  A succession of four- and five-star hotels have opened in the city over the past few years and quality accommodation is now readily available.  There are also more cheap options than ever before, with several backpacker hostels in the centre of town.  Big pop acts often play concerts in Bratislava, while the Slovak Philharmonic and the opera and ballet of the Slovak National Theatre regularly put on world-class performances.  Numerous restaurants offering international cuisine – from Slovak to French to Argentinian to Japanese – and excellent local beer and wine fill the city centre, alongside lively bars, lounges and clubs.  If, having enjoying the food and drink, you feel like walking – or biking – there are almost unlimited opportunities in the forested hills to the north of the city, or along the Danube to the south, where inline skating is also very popular on the scores of kilometres of traffic-free paths.
Some pictures of my last trip.  I love you guys- please stay in touch and do amazing things in Microsoft Central Eastern Europe!  See you in Redmond or MGX!

CEE Christmas Party and BMO Party

It was my last hoorah with the CEE Team.  To end the year we headed to good old downtown Unterschleissheim to play pool, have some drinks, blow off some Rhythm of the Business Steam and watch Bayern Munich win finally 4-0!  Good times!  Why is it when you are too solber you are horrible at pool but once you have just a beer or two you become fabulous!  The a couple days after our BMO (Business Marketing Operations Group) party we had the whole CEE headquarters party.  It was a great little place at Middle Ring in downtown Munich.  Great food, great conversation and fun dancing to end the night.  It was an amazing ride for 3 years, I will truly miss the people, the culture, the countries and the experience.  Some prictures of great friends for life below. 

BMW Driving School TeamBuilding

So I participated in one of the best team building activities ever with my team.  We went to the BMW safety driving school in the pouring rain last Friday.  What an experience!  As much as I have a thrill for speed, it truly taught me how we drive way too fast as a society!  The great thing as everyone knows Greg says I already have 2 strikes against me- 1 being a women and 2 being Asian but to my surprise I did quite well in the driving school activities.  You wouldn’t even believe in the final times solemn race, I placed 3rd behind Claus (does race driving in Porsches) and Marin (my Croatian buddy).  Not bad out of 10 people.  We learned how to steer and brake properly, no more smooth braking-SLAM ON THAT BRAKE!  Did you also know our US teachers are wrong it isn’t 10 & 2 to hold the steering wheel but 9 & 3!  The most fun was we took off the DTC and drove 45km/h in a circle in the pouring rain, was quite scary but learning how to over steer and under steer… Here are a few of the pictures from the day, if you can do it- I would highly recommend it.  They also have an off road school with the X5-how fun that would be!  I will miss my CEE Server Team extremely, amazing good drivers!