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Gašper Kamenšek

For Slovenian MVP Gašper Kamenšek, Excel was a case of love at first sight.

“It all started when I went to college because I was studying mathematics,” Kamenšek recalls. “I was looking for a side hustle and there was a company literally across the street that did Microsoft Office classes. So, I started with Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and obviously Excel. And I naturally fell in love with Excel because it was the closest to math. I literally never looked back.”

So, love at first sight, leading to a long marriage? “A bit of a rocky marriage,” he quips, “Because I’ve sort of been cheating with Power BI for the last couple of years.”

Like many in the throes of new love, young Gašper couldn’t get enough. He searched endlessly for online Excel learning resources, but they were relatively scarce. “There were almost no YouTube channels at that point. You had blogs, right?”

Eventually, he found his way to the Amsterdam Excel Summit, started by Jan Karel Pieterse and Tony De Jonker. “I remember going to my first summit, and meeting, like, 12 MVPs. I was starstruck—literally geeking out.” He was enthralled to find a community where everyone was eager to dissect Excel’s complex ins and outs. “You cannot have discussions like that at home, at the dinner table. But there, you can have them at breakfast!”

Around that time, Kamenšek made the decision to leave his full-time job. “The environment was so toxic that I knew I had to leave. I loved what I did, but I hated my job, which is the worst thing ever.”

He was also a new parent. “I needed to take time out to just be able to be normal with my kid, and to finish all the conversations that were going on in my head.”

Despite finding himself in an instant financial hole, he never looked back. “It only took me like a month to start smiling again. Life just had a different rhythm. You don’t sit in rush hour morning traffic for 45 minutes. You don’t have to stay somewhere for eight hours, even though you were finished in four.

“Honestly, best decision ever. And yet when I made it, I had no idea what was going to happen.”

These days, Kamenšek spends much of his time delivering in-person Excel training sessions. “It’s not a money thing; if it was, I would do nothing but projects. But I love doing training. I do local sessions all the time—maybe even too much.”

Fortunately for his financial health, he also consults for business clients. “Giant reporting projects, automation projects, utilizing Office 365, utilizing Power BI, utilizing Excel, utilizing the automations in either Power Automate or Power Query, or whatever. Those are my main thing.”

Meanwhile, says Kamenšek, the sense of community he discovered in Amsterdam has continued to expand. He travels far and wide to Excel events—sometimes as a paid speaker, and sometimes at his own expense.

As a self-described “huge Beatles buff,” he was particularly excited about his invitation to 2023’s London Global Excel Summit. He took a side trip to visit Abbey Road studios, to see the site of the group’s historic (and final) rooftop concert.

Later at the summit, he ran into fellow MVP Alan Murray, whom he has known for years. “Alan was talking to Traci Williams, who is from Liverpool. So, of course the Beatles came up. Traci said, ‘You can’t just visit London. You have to go to the original, to Liverpool.’ And I said, ‘That’s a brilliant idea. Let’s do it.’”

Murray, who regularly hosts in-person Excel meetups in London, agreed to host an upcoming session in Liverpool—with Kamenšek as a featured guest. “That’s how the community works, right?” says Kamenšek. “If they’ll have me, I’ll speak. I’m going to pay for my own tickets. I’m going to pay for my own hotel. But I’ll be in Liverpool. I’ll go to the Cavern. I’ll speak about Excel with like-minded people. To me, that’s a win, win, win!”

Like most Excel MVPs, Kamenšek is excited by the prospect for the app’s future—but also somewhat dizzy from the pace of progress. “Excel is being developed so fast. Once upon a time, people weren’t using tables, and we were worried about that. Now, it feels like the train just shot seven stations onwards, and meanwhile people are still standing back at the pivot table VLOOKUP station waiting to be picked up.”

When Kamenšek peruses the agendas of so-called advanced Excel training sessions, they often read as if they’re stuck in 2007. “And I think that gap is even getting bigger. There are people that haven’t even touched the JavaScript part, the Script Lab—and it’s brilliant. And I’m talking about the Excel creme de la creme.”

Kamenšek won’t name names, or even cast aspersions, because he often finds himself in similar circumstances. “It’s impossible to keep up. I don’t even know if anyone really knows how

Fortunately for Kamenšek, rank has its privileges. “That’s why it’s great to be an MVP, because you hear things in advance. Then you at least know about them, and you can just say, ‘Oh that’s available now.’ So I can speak about it. Cool.”

When you fall in love with Excel at first sight, you can spend a lifetime exploring its mysteries and always have new things to learn.

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