When Andre Da Costa first began studying information technology while growing up on the island of Jamaica, many of his classmates had computers at home to use for homework and after-hours study. Andre, however, wasn’t one of them.

Fortunately, his mother could clearly see young Andre’s growing passion for computers and technology. Working with limited resources, she eventually procured an old desktop PC for the family to share. 

“This was a secondhand computer my mother got for about $20 U.S.,” Andre recalls. “It gave me a chance to start tinkering with computers, learning about how they worked, and learning how to use Windows.”

Before long, Andre was diving deep into Microsoft’s online community forums, building relationships with expert users who taught him the ins and outs of the classic Windows 9x operating systems. 

After a while, Andre found that he himself was becoming something of a Windows expert. Where at first he had spent all his time on forums asking questions and searching for help, he was now spending just as much time sharing his own hard-earned knowledge with others. 

“I realized that this was a passion for me—this was something that I really wanted to do,” he says. 

Andre eventually achieved a distinction in information technology at school. He then began his professional career in a data center, where he served as a desktop support technician and started developing his expertise in network administration.

No one was more surprised than Andre when he found out that Microsoft had nominated him as a Windows Desktop MVP. 

“That was so exciting,” Andre said, “that something that I just loved doing voluntarily turned out to be something that they found helpful and appreciated, and they recognized me for that.” 

Receiving his first Microsoft MVP award in 2010, Andre has gone on to earn MVP status every year since. Now he also contributes his knowledge to the Microsoft user community as a Microsoft expert, via Directly’s support automation platform

With help from experts like Andre, Directly is helping companies such as Microsoft, Samsung, and Airbnb deliver a better customer experience. To learn more about how experts like Andre play a role in support automation, click here.