Sure, Microsoft is a global company. But there are certain events that really underscore how much of an impact our products have around the world. One of those events was the 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships, which just concluded. I had the great privilege to attend the competition, held at Disney’s Grand California Hotel in Anaheim, CA., and meet some of the participants. The event was just a few yards from Disneyland, so mouse hats were in abundance.

These championships are an impressive event. More than 400,000 young people ages 13-22 took part in the competition, with 137 rising to the top and attending the Anaheim event. They were experts at three Microsoft Office products: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, with six competition rounds held, three each for the 2007 and 2010 editions of those products. Our certification partner, Certiport, did a fantastic job of organizing and hosting the event.

The six winners were just dazzling. Really the best of the best. Here the six who came out on top:

  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 World Champion, Tyler Millis, United States.
  • Microsoft Excel 2007 World Champion, Ian Leitao Ferreira, Brazil
  • Microsoft Word 2007 World Champion, Dominique Howard, United States.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 World Champion, Arjit Kansal, India
  • Microsoft Excel 2010 World Champion, Kin Ian Lo, Macau
  • Microsoft Word 2010 World Champion, Ian Weng Chan, Macau

The winners all received a $5,000 scholarship and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Here’s a release summarizing the winners and the event. 

I thought it fitting that the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships were held near Disneyland. Walt Disney was a completely unknown 19-year-old when he gave himself the task of mastering animation. It didn’t happen overnight, but he did. And he and his studio would go on to create some of the most influential and memorable animated films of all time – Snow White, Bambi, Fantasia, to name just a few. The success that mastery led to eventually allowed Disney to build the amusement park that bears his name, and that opened 60 years ago.

The participants in the 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships have achieved a mastery of their own. It’ll be thrilling to see how they put that mastery to use in the years to come. Their love of learning and urgent desire to improve themselves was enormously inspiring, to say the least.