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A First-Timer's Guide to Community Summit

Brittany Miller
Nov 14, 2023
12 mins

Greenshades and Community Summit 2023

Introduction & The Essence of the Community Summit:

In the bustling city of Charlotte, North Carolina, the annual Community Summit North America 2023 event unraveled from October 15th to the 20th. Renowned as the paramount independent gathering of the Microsoft business applications ecosystem, this summit hosted over 750 pivotal sessions with nearly 5,000 Microsoft Dynamics users and partners.  

As a first time “Greenie” at Community Summit I, Brittany Miller Greenshades Creative Manager, would like to share with you my own personal experiences and perspectives from this years event.

Myself, Brittany Miller, at Greenshades booth at Community Summit 2023

What did I expect as a first-time attendee?

As a first-time attendee, my expectations were shaped by some pre-event Googling. What I anticipated was a bustling and busy atmosphere. I had a sense that the event would be lively, but I was genuinely taken aback by the sheer magnitude of the sessions available. I initially thought navigating the session agenda might be more challenging, given the extensive options.

Additionally, with the large turnout, my assumption was that the event might lean more towards a crowd-focused dynamic—lots of people moving in and out of sessions, buzzing around booths. I anticipated a bit less socializing and more of a hustle-and-bustle atmosphere. However, I'm excited to share how those expectations played out in reality and how the event exceeded, or perhaps adjusted, my initial perceptions.

Greenshades team Community Summit in North Carolina 2023

The realities of attending for the first time:

Upon reflection after attending, the significance behind naming this gathering "Community Summit" truly resonated with me. While I've seen other events toss the term "community" into their names simply because they involve a multitude of individuals, the reality of this event goes far beyond people merely convening. It's a collective of devoted individuals who harbor a genuine love for Microsoft products within their companies, and they're not just here to attend – they're here to be an integral part of it, fostering its growth and pushing it toward progress. Remarkably, many of these dedicated individuals have been attending this event since its inception in 2012.

What struck me most was the sense of camaraderie among exhibitors. Instead of a competitive atmosphere, there was a collaborative spirit prevailing. It wasn't just about sharing a physical space; it was about exchanging greetings, supporting one another, and actively promoting each other's endeavors.

Another striking aspect was the consistent engagement of participants. Numerous speakers and attendees transform this event into an annual tradition. One standout figure, Leslie Vale, recognized as a Community Summit legend, graces the occasion every year, donning a vibrant hat and cape. Leslie's spirited presence not only adds a delightful touch of familiarity but also weaves an enduring tradition into the vibrant fabric of the event.

What sets Community Summit apart?

For Users, By Users: Content is attendee driven, promoting enriching peer-to-peer interactions. I was pleased to observe how engaged the attendees were from the show floor, in the halls, and throughout the sessions.

Decrease Complexity to Deliver Results: With a focus on simplifying the multifaceted Microsoft ecosystem, attendees leave with actionable insights.

Aligned with your Microsoft Journey: Regardless of whether one is a novice or a seasoned expert, Summit resonates with everyone's Microsoft journey.

For Greenshades, it was more than an event; it was an avenue to underscore our proficiency and fortify our bonds within the Microsoft community.  They also demonstrated several powerful features and integrations of the solution such as: project accounting, the new payable to billables integration with Gravoc, and the partnership between Journyx and Greenshades.  

Greenshades with their iconic Green Hawaiian shirts

Greenshades' Impact and Dedication:

Dressed in our signature bright green Hawaiian shirts and matching shoes, the Greenshades team once again made a splash. Our diverse team of 15, including key figures like VP of Sales Rob Bright, CRO & Director of Demand Generation Andy Roe, Senior Marketing Manager Mandy Haberkamp, revenue operations & enablement Chris Hadden, Sales Engineer Amber Manuel, and myself, Brittany Miller, Creative Manager, were all geared up and ready to represent Greenshades.

Our booth was a visual delight, adorned with pink flamingo headbands and "Payroll Done, Shades On" beach shirts. We offered attendees a range of goodies, from pens to marketing materials. But what stole the show was our very first 3D booth, complete with a life-sized flamingo for memorable selfies. We didn't stop there; we set up a giant Jenga game and cornhole for some good old-fashioned fun and community bonding.

Greenshades' presence wasn't merely about exhibiting but about reaffirming our commitment to the Microsoft community. With over two decades under our belt, our Microsoft payroll, HR, and tax solutions have empowered countless businesses. It was great to meet so many clients and partners that stopped by our booth. The testimonials we received at Community Summit were not only affirmations of the robustness of our solutions but also of the trust and faith that our clients and partners place in us

Molly Van Kampan – Greenshades Experience Director and speaker at “GP the Future is so bright you’ll need shades”

Session Recaps and Key Highlights:

Amid the whirlwind of activities, our team dove into several sessions, drawing insights to further enhance our offerings. "GP General Session" and "The GP Future is So Bright You'll Need Shades" were particularly enlightening.  

The GP General Session kicked off with a notable award ceremony, spotlighting individuals within the GP sphere who have been at the forefront of pushing its boundaries. Among the distinguished "GP All Star" awardees were Kerry Hataley, Owner of Nanook Software, and Carol Livingston, President of Dynamics Connections LLC, alongside other notable figures. Following the awards, the session delved into an in-depth exploration, elucidating the latest modifications to the GP software as a whole.

My personal favorite session was “The GP Future is So Bright You'll Need Shades “. This session not only addressed concerns about the potential phasing out of GP Dynamics software but also showcased various guest speakers representing businesses from diverse industries. These speakers shared firsthand experiences, emphasizing the universal utility of GP Dynamics for any business. As the session drew to a close, it introduced additional speakers, including our very own Molly Van Kampen, Greenshades' Chief Experience Officer, shedding light on our innovative contributions to the domain.

Nascar Hall of Fame after party

Networking and Social Engagements:

The event wasn't just about business; it was also about forging connections and having fun. Each evening, there were plenty of opportunities to attend the happy hour expo receptions, to drop by a partner-sponsored party nearby, or attend the impressive conference parties., such as the NASCAR Hall of Fame reception and the "PowerGP Online Party" at The Fillmore. The obvious sense of community and spirit of collaboration were visible everywhere! Meeting new and old friends seems seamless for this community, as there never was trouble in making introductions and conversation!


Attending Community Summit North America was truly a blessing. The first-hand experience provided an incredible opportunity to deepen my understanding of GP, Dynamics, and F&O while fostering new connections within the community. Reflecting on the event, I now recognize that, though my individual presence may have been small, the impact of this gathering will endure for years, and each community member holds the power to shape its future.

For Greenshades, Community Summit North America 2023 wasn't just an event; it was a testament to our unwavering commitment to empowering businesses through innovative solutions. As an integral part of the Microsoft community, we remain steadfast in our mission. Come along with us as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of payroll, HR, and tax solutions. Together, we shape the future of this vibrant community.

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