Business Apps Profile: Look beyond your tech bubble, Power Apps Portals expert advises

The email notifying Power Apps Portals expert Ulrikke Akerbæk that she had been named a Microsoft MVP came on a day when she needed it the most.

“That day I had received some news that made me very sad and I had had a hard day,” she said. “When I came home and picked up the computer in the evening, I couldn’t believe my eyes at first. I had to check that it was legitimate and not a scam. It was [October 1, 2021], a Friday, so I didn’t tell anyone until Monday. I just cherished the good news and kept it as a hidden gem all weekend.”

Ulrikke Akerbæk

About a year and a half earlier, Akerbæk, a solutions architect at Skill AS in Norway, had started sharing her knowledge with the community. It was a measured effort to help reach her professional goals, but she also made a conscious decision to contribute a pace that wouldn’t take away from her time family and friends.

“I decided that if that was enough to get the MVP award then I would be grateful. But if it wasn’t, then that would be alright as well,” Akerbæk said.

Akerbæk spoke with us about her career, her work in the community, and what it means to be an MVP.

MSDW: What does it mean to you to be an MVP? Will it help you in your job?

Akerbæk: Being an MVP means that I get to have a voice and shape the future of technology. I love the Microsoft MVP feedback opportunities that we have and the close collaboration with the product managers and development team. It’s also satisfying to be able to give better advice [to my customers]. The insight into new features that are coming down the line enables me to steer my customers in the right direction and plan for the future with more credibility.

What does your job as a solution architect at Skill AS consist of?

At the core I work with Power Apps Portals and do the work of many different roles. I’m the designer, developer, architect, and project manager all at once. I work with the client and translate their needs into technical solutions through design and development.

Can you talk about your transition from SharePoint to Portals? What changes did it require in the way you work? What got you interested in working with Power Platform?

I have created websites since I was a little girl, and I’m educated in web, communication, and multimedia. I have always been interested in the user experience, user interfaces, and information architecture. When I started my career, it felt natural to start creating intranets. I had great fun branding SharePoint intranets for our clients [at Skill AS] for five years, and it played to my strengths from my school years.

Then SharePoint was pushed to the cloud, and the branding capabilities were restricted. There was no longer any work for me, and at the same time, I went on maternity leave. When I came back, I discovered that Microsoft had bought a portals product called Adxstudio – and it felt like the obvious way forward to me. So I switched to the Dynamics department, pitched a project using this new portal product to one of our biggest clients, and embarked on a four-year long Portals project.

Is the type of work different on Portals projects in terms of the job description and skills?

Working with SharePoint intranets and Power Apps Portals is much the same work and requires many of the same skills. I work with the client to discover what problem they are trying to solve, we define what success looks like, and identify goals for the project. Then we translate all this information into sketches that we test and validate. From these sketches, we do the project line-up and divide it into features, actionable user stories, and then into tasks describing the technical implementation. This way of working is the same with Portals and SharePoint, but the technology that solves the problem is different.

Do you also work with Microsoft Dynamics? If so, what product?

I have the customer service and marketing certifications and have worked on both customer service and marketing implementations. It’s not where my passion lies, but I appreciate the power of these applications.

You have mentioned on your site the support you’ve had from other Portals experts. How do you recommend that newcomers engage with the community?

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