Coveo’s Jeff L’Heureux and Simon Langevin were recently named Sitecore MVP technologists. This award is a great honor that confirms the tremendous work they have done in the Sitecore Community. I caught up with both of them to celebrate this achievement and understand how they became MVPs and how Coveo has empowered them in the process.
CAT: Guys, first of all congratulations on being awarded Sitecore MVP Technologists and thanks for taking the time to talk about your journey. To give some context to our readers, can you tell us how and when you started working with Sitecore?
JFLH: I started working with Sitecore in May 2014. It was my 8th year with Coveo and given my ASP.Net expertise, I was asked to join the growing Coveo for Sitecore development team. One year later I moved to my current tech evangelist role. I dived head first into Sitecore, learning everything from my colleagues and blog posts from the Sitecore community members. There was no Slack community back then, I wish there had been (laughs)!
SLO: I started in the Coveo support team as a Sitecore specialist 3 years ago. To get ready for this task, I attended the Sitecore 7.0 developers training and passed the certification. Since then, I moved into a Solution Architect role and participated actively in the deployment of a large majority of the Sitecore projects integrating Coveo. We have more than 500 common clients with Sitecore, which means a lot in terms of diversity and challenges.
CAT: Can you walk us through the process that led to the Sitecore MVP technologist title?
JFLH: Being a Sitecore MVP became a personal objective in January 2016. I was already very active helping others on the Sitecore Slack community and Twitter at that time. To share my knowledge even more, I started a personal blog and writing articles on source.coveo.com. I took part in many Sitecore User Groups and 2016 Sitecore Hackathon. I also co-created the Sitecore User Group Quebec in September 2016. Then came the MVP application period in November 2016. Multiple Sitecore MVPs and Sitecore employees with whom I collaborated with in the past gave me great recommendations, which always helps.
SLO: I’ve been looking up to it for a long time. Of course, when I started 3 years ago it seemed unattainable. The Sitecore MVP community is full of giants who spent their entire career mastering Sitecore and the technologies related to it. As the years went by, I ended up working for large and complex deployments which propelled my knowledge of the solution to a whole new level and allowed me to build an expertise on search within Sitecore. Then over the last year, I released several blogs on source.coveo.com, gained a good reputation on Sitecore Stack Exchange and worked closely with several Sitecore MVPs and Sitecore experts. Akshay Sura, one of the first MVP I had the chance to work with, nominated me for a MVP status: I jumped head first in the program.
CAT: What does such an outstanding award mean to you? How will it help with your role at Coveo?
JFLH: Being recognized as a Sitecore technology expert means a lot to me. Early on in my endeavor, I had a warm welcome from the Sitecore community. Members are really inclusive and helpful; it is a great fit for me as I love sharing and helping others. This award confirms that I’m doing a great job and encourages me to continue to work harder in that direction.
The advantages of being a Sitecore MVP are multiple: There’s the early access to upcoming Sitecore releases, roadmap and announcements that will help us test the new Sitecore features quicker and adjust our products to be ready when GA. I will also have the opportunity to give some feedback to the Sitecore teams on topics such as orientation of the product and even as specific as how a feature is implemented. I will be invited to private discussion forums and many private events, webinars, meetings and, of course, the MVP Summit. It also gives an individual Sitecore license that can be used to power my personal projects. I might migrate my blog to Sitecore, who knows (laughs)!
SLO: First of all, this is a great recognition by the community. I spent countless hours in Sitecore solutions to develop and troubleshoot. Having both the MVP community and the Sitecore organization recognizing feels amazing. The MVP status also offers an access to release and plans for the product, which will be very useful for the entire R&D team as we will be able to prepare and optimize our integration with Sitecore.
CAT: Speaking of Coveo, how did the organization facilitate your path to obtain the MVP status?
JFLH: The entire organization was really supportive. It’s in Coveo’s DNA to always push the envelope so I was encouraged to always improve my skills, share with the community and eventually apply for MVP. Coveo invested in me, sending me to multiple User Groups and conferences where I had the chance to meet other community members, they facilitated me taking the Sitecore® XP 8 Website Development for .NET Developers eLearning Course and pass the certification exam to become a Sitecore certified developer. I am very thankful for all this continuous support.
SLO: Just a few months in, Coveo gave me the opportunity to attend the Sitecore training and get the certification. Then in the following years, Coveo continued to supported me and pushed me to become a Sitecore expert. It was also very much valued by my peers, who also extend their knowledge continuously. During the last year, Coveo sent me around North America to present to Sitecore User Groups and Sitecore Partner Roadshow, which allowed me to meet and share with hundreds of members of the community.
CAT: Do you have any suggestions for readers out there that aspire to become MVP as well?
JFLH: Share all the things! Do not keep your knowledge for yourself. Share as much as you can by writing blogs, community documentation or producing videos. Enroll in the Sitecore Slack community and Sitecore Stack Exchange websites and help others. Participate in events such as Sitecore User Groups, the Sitecore Hackathon, the Sitecore User Group Conference (SUGCON), and the Sitecore Symposium. Present at those events if you feel comfortable speaking in public. Write, publish, maintain and contribute to open-source Sitecore modules. Doing the majority of those activities will almost ensure you an award given that you nominate for it in November.
SLO: Read, try, share. Sitecore evolves in web, commerce, data managements and personalizations. All of these fields are evolving at a steady pace, which mean that you will always have the opportunity to learn more, and then share that knowledge with the rest of the world. Writing blogs and answering on Sitecore Stack Exchange is a great way to share the knowledge and build your reputation.
CAT: What’s next for you guys?
JFLH: My biggest goal for 2017 is to speak at the 2 major Sitecore events: SUGCON EU and Sitecore Symposium. My talk is already submitted for SUGCON. I also want to learn more and experiment with the Sitecore Helix principles, Sitecore Commerce and Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA). Outside of Sitecore, I want to learn technologies such as .Net Core and Microsoft Azure Web Apps.
SLO: In my MVP application form, I mentioned that my goal was to spread the word about the power of a good search in Sitecore solutions. I have worked a lot with developers in the last few years and now I would like to go to a higher level and start the discussion with digital strategists and marketers. Hopefully the title of MVP will help me to reach out to them and get their attention. I also want to stay up to date and become experts with the newest releases of Sitecore, mostly Commerce, SXA and Azure web apps
Now, you’ve heard us talk a lot about the #CoveoLife, and this article is exactly what it’s all about, folks! We are honored to have such a hard-working team of thought-leaders, we couldn’t be what we are without them. We are so proud of Jean-Francois and Simon and are honored to have two members of the Coveo family among such an incredible list of MVPs. Think you have what it takes to represent Coveo on the next MVP list? Check out our open positions today.
Note: This is just an excerpt from our conversation, our two MVPs were very generous and shared a lot of information that was condensed for your reading pleasure.