For years, when natural disasters struck, Tony Surma dropped what he was doing to see how he could help. Now it’s his full-time job at Microsoft.
Chief technical officer of Microsoft’s Disaster Response, Tony Surma, has a deep background in building teams, creating technology solutions and helping people in natural disasters. Previously, he was the national director for the Microsoft Technology Centers where he, 10 years prior, was one of the original technical architects in the Chicago Microsoft Technology Center. Over the years, he has jumped in as part of early response teams, volunteering his time and expertise to disaster relief. Now, in his role as director and CTO of Microsoft Disaster Response—a role he helped create—he taps the breadth of his passions and expertise to help response organizations, governments and communities in time of response as well as co-develop solutions and strategies with them so everyone is better prepared and ready to manage the impact of the next disaster.
“Throughout Microsoft, there is a strong sense of focus on giving back, being generous with your time and expertise and supporting those in need,” explained Tony. “It is the privilege and responsibility of our team to coordinate and maximize the impact this generosity can have when combined with the technologies and solutions from Microsoft and our partners.”
The contributions of the community play a critical role in helping create and deliver those solutions. Over the years, Tony has worked closely with many members of the MVP community, including those involved with the Humanitarian Toolbox.
“I’ve been very impressed with the generosity of MVPs, their willingness to contribute their time and their skills, organizing hackathons, rolling up their sleeves to write code, and getting the word out in the community,” said Tony. “As respected community leaders, they’re able to make things happen. They understand how the community wants to engage, and they’re capable of representing the larger community: they have their fingers on the pulse. And that understanding and credible connection helps us scale our efforts.”
You can hear Tony discuss the Humanitarian Toolbox in a podcast with ASP.Net/IIS MVP Richard Campbell and Kinect for Windows MVP Carl Franklin here. There’s also a video of Tony discussing the role technology and the community plays in disaster relief on this site.