Legendary Podcast: Shawn Dorward Defines How Community Shaped Career Trajectory

Welcome to the “Legendary Podcast,” hosted by Dynamics Communities Editor Cam Sessinger. The “Legendary Podcast” is a video podcast series featuring Community Summit North America Legends, highlighting their career expertise, community involvement, and Community Summit experiences.

In episode 6, Cam interviews Shawn Dorward, Microsoft MVP, Community Summit NA Legend, Vice President, sa.global. Tune in to learn how Shawn became involved in the Microsoft Business Applications ecosystem, how and when he became involved with presenting at Community Summit, and how the community has helped shape the trajectory of his career.

This episode is sponsored by Community Summit North America, the largest independent gathering of the Microsoft Business Applications ecosystem, taking place Oct. 13-17, 2024, in San Antonio, Texas. Register today to connect with thousands of users across the Microsoft business applications ecosystem at the for user, by user event.


00:49 — Shawn started as an accountant, which introduced him to the ERP business. He combined the worlds of accounting and technology and has been “pretty much doing it ever since.” Over the last few years, while working at sa.global, he’s been able to branch out of ERP and start focusing on other areas. He began as a Dynamics GP consultant and six or seven years ago, he started having an interest in Dynamics Business Central. Additionally, he leads sa.global’s Power BI and Power Platform groups, as well as its Modern Work and CE teams.

05:25 — While speaking about Community Summit North America, Shawn explains at what point he started attending and speaking, first noting that “Summit and the Community are just very, very, near and dear to me.” 2024 will be Shawn’s 10th year speaking, and his 12th year attending. He notes that he was encouraged by fellow community member Kim Peterson to start speaking, and was supported by colleagues Belinda Allen and Mark Polino.

“Now it’s something that I find to be a critical component of my day-to-day. It’s a work requirement for me to contribute, and to help empower the members of the community in that way.”

06:58 — In reflecting on the most recent Community Summit in Charlotte, NC, Shawn shares some impressions. He notes that the energy of Summit 2023 was much higher than in previous years. “You could really feel that the community spirit has been resurrected, and was maybe a little bit more vibrant than it was pre-Covid.” He shares a story of a notable moment in which he helped an attendee of one of his sessions troubleshoot Power BI issues.

“Those kind of empowering moments, they never get old”

09:08 — Shawn explains that he often tells people that coming to an event like Community Summit is part of their professional responsibility, and “the investment into the ecosystem, into an ERP particularly, is something that should never be let to sit and get stale.” Organizations should be committed to send team members to this event, due to the great content that’s presented throughout the week, but more specifically, for the community networking.

“For me, it changed my career. It changed the trajectory of my career. It changed the way that I think about my work life and, what my main objectives are.”

13:23 — Within the Business Central system, Shawn explains that he focuses on reporting, which comes with a requirement of understanding how things get flushed through the system, and how the data gets to be created in a certain way. He explains that he’s also a “big fan of how the system uses dimensions.”

14:51 — Over the years, Shawn has presented “Life Hacks” sessions at Community Summit. He explains how this was born out of a personal need for a “short burst of information.” These sessions are a trendy way of describing tips and tricks in a rapid-fire approach. He explains how these sessions work well for Dynamics GP, Dynamics Business Central, and Excel.

“I like to take those real-life examples, those real-life pains, and translate them into what I call ‘Life Hacks.'”

17:42 — For those who are looking to become immersed in the community, or speak at Community Summit, Shawn encourages users to reach out to any community member on social media or through a community site. “We want to hear from as many people as possible. This is a community built by users, for users.” Finally, Shawn shares a valuable lesson learned — get a little uncomfortable, because with that uncomfortability comes progress.

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