Why I choose the word Evangelist for my role

27 Jun 2012
22 May 2020
4 minutes

In three days, I will be in my Evangelist role at Microsoft for one year, and a half. It was, and it’s still an amazing experience: awesome job, great company, astonishing co-workers, mind-blowing ecosystem… Actually, there is some excitement about the Evangelist job in Montreal as the friend Sylvain Carle joined Twitter, and he’s moving to San Francisco. I’m really happy for him as I think he is also a born Evangelist, and as I know him, he is a perfect match for Twitter.

Since it’s really new for him, Sylvain is trying to find the right term for his role at Twitter. Like me, he seems to have the latitude to choose what fits most the role in his mind, but also with his personality. Sylvain seems to prefer something like “Developer Advocate”, as I prefer the term “Developer Evangelist”, and now “Technical Evangelist”. I totally respect his choice, but since I had the idea of starting a series of blog post around the role of an Evangelist, this Twitter discussion gave me the idea to start the first one by explaining why I prefer this word. This is, in no mean, a way to argue with Sylvain…

Let’s be clear, it’s just about the term, and perception (of ourselves, and from others), as the Developer Advocate, and the Developer Evangelist do the same thing at the end of the day: as I like to say, we give love to developers. In my case, I choose to change my title to Technical Evangelist as even if my main audience is developers, I’m not dealing only with them: I also work with integrators, designers, architects, CTO… and every user of technology.

So why do I choose the term Evangelist? First, I like this word. More seriously, it represents a big part of what I’m doing: I’m talking about technology. An Evangelist is also there to help technical people be successful with their projects, their job, and their career path. The only time people think that my job is related to religion, is when I’m talking to non IT people. I don’t care about explaining what I’m doing for a living as most of the time, I also had to explain what was my developer job. On the other side, I also need to say that I need to explain what is exactly my role as an Evangelist for IT people, but I never got the religious comment, and at the end it serves me well: it’s a good ice breaker!

Even if I had co-workers who use the term Advocate, I also choose the term Evangelist to help this term being known in Canada: the more that we are, the more the term will be known. It’s something that is well-known, or at least, better known elsewhere. We are seeing more, and more Evangelist role as these roles are critical for the adoption, and the success of your platform. They are the social piece of your company, being there to help, to communicate, to share, to guide, to mentor others. I also had to think about my audience, but like I told before, my personality was also important in the process. I’m the guy in the team who work with non-Microsoft technology enthusiast. I’m the guy who his well-dress when he put new sneakers with his t-shirt, and usual jeans. I found the term advocate boring (sorry teammates!), and as I don’t consider myself boring, it wasn’t for me. I’m extravert, and for me the Evangelist term is a synonym of extravert!

At the end, I think that both terms make sense depending on your role, your audience, your company, your values, and who you are. As for me… I am a Technical Evangelist…

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