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Technical Program Manager

Hi, everyone! Wynn here. We’re back with another Xbox Insider Team interview. Today we’ll be chatting with Dean—a Technical Program Manager, Xbox Mastercard maestro, and another all-around cat person. How’s it going, Dean?

I’m doing well! Happy to be here.

Glad we could have you on. I’m sure a brief respite from the Mastercard salt mines is welcomed.

Oh yeah! Most people don’t know this, but that’s how we get those rewards points. It’s hard work, but honest work.

So, that’s what that guy on CoD meant last night when he called me salty.

Exactly. Everyone knows that.

Haha. Well, let’s have everyone get to know a little more about Dean.

Let’s see. I’ve been in the tech industry for, gosh, it must be 25 years now. I’ve always been a gamer at heart, but I started at Microsoft working on Windows 2000/SQL 7 on databases.

The very first computer I ever owned personally was an old Windows 2000 machine that my granddad brought home after it was decommissioned at Delta.

It was an interesting OS. The last version before the codebase merges. But after several years on that team, I moved briefly over to do some work on 360, then a little work on Bing, before settling back in the Xbox world during the Xbox One launch on the ops side of things.

A man of many talents! I think you may have me beat on the number of orgs you’ve worked for, which is unique for Xbox. Most people get here and nail their feet to floor.

Ha. I couldn’t find my hammer at the time. But the last decade has been really great, and I love this team.

That leads perfectly into my next question. When did you start on the Xbox Insider Team?

It must’ve been around 2019 when I first came over. But I actually ran the program for a while before transitioning away a year ago.

Oh wow! I actually had no idea. That must be why I see so many older Wire articles attributed to you.

That’s right. During my stint in charge, I really tried to double down on partner evangelism and outreach. We did a lot of tradeshows like GDC, PAX, etc. It was just so incredible getting to talk to developers and bring them into the program. I loved feeling like we really were making an impact on their product, and Xbox Insiders were getting early looks at cool games.

Is there a particular developer or publisher that you worked with that was memorable?

Absolutely. The one that immediately comes to mind is Whitethorn Games. They were really interested in our program, so we met with them and just loved their portfolio. We worked with them to promote their games, and even did these testimonial videos for internal showcases. It was just a really great partnership and sort of laid some groundwork for how we could partner with not just developers, but publishers too.

Oh, that’s actually wild. We just had a call with them before the break about them wanting to be more involved with XIP vis-à-vis Xbox Accessibility Insiders League.

Yeah, I saw those emails floating around. Really cool to see them still involved with the program.

Very cool. All right let’s move on to a few rapid-fire questions I’m asking everyone about their interests.

Sure. Let’s do it.

What game has impacted your life the most?

Whew. That’s a deep one. Let’s see. I have a few. I remember the first time I ever played Half-Life. I was in an office at the time that had a ton of PCs setup in a row, and I installed it one afternoon. I loaded up the start of the game and as more people saw me playing it, a crowd started forming around the monitor because it was unlike anything we had ever seen at the time.

Then there’s Project Gotham Racing on the OG Xbox. Just putting that disc in and listening to the intro music kick in while watching the tracks go by was bliss. A fantastic memory of that opening with the jump in fidelity from my N64 to the Xbox.

More recently, I was really impressed with Hades all around. Stylistically, musically, gameplay, Supergiant was firing on all cylinders for that one. I still play it every once in a while because it’s so good.

That Half-Life story is so cool. I missed that train originally, but it still holds up so incredibly well. There are so many video game OSTs that mean a lot to me as well. It’s crazy how much emotion a good opening sequence can bring out in a game.

For me, that PGR intro is just so chill and so relaxing. It’s part of what made me want to get into music production, which I’ve been dabbling with recently.

Oh wow. You’ll have to play a set for the team sometime.

Haha. We’ll see.

But that’s a great segue for my next question: Do you have any songs or albums that you find yourself listening to over and over?

I try to always discover new music, across all genres, whenever I can. I try to not get bogged down. But one record I absolutely come back to frequently is Currents by Tame Impala.

Okay, so no binging on the music front, how about TV/movies? Are you one of the yearly Office re-watchers?

It’s not so much yearly or constant, but we are an Office family. Especially around the holidays when the kids are home from school, that’s a comfort show around that time. My daughter and I also watch a ton of SpongeBob and quote it back and forth.

Well cool man. Other than opening for Coachella 2025, do you have any hobbies outside of tech/gaming?

Yeah, I really enjoy American Football, both College and Professional.

Who are your teams?

Penn State for CFB and Seahawks for NFL.

Ah, as someone from Atlanta, you too have felt the pain of losing a Super Bowl to Brady.

Well, I think we can wrap this one up. Anything else you’d like to share with the Community? Anything cool you’re working on you can talk about?

Well, the Xbox Mastercard program is still running full speed ahead, so there’s lots of work being done with that every day.

*cough* Available for Xbox Insiders right now! *cough*

Gesundheit. But other than that, not too much to mention here.

I’ll sign off by saying that I’ve always loved the Xbox Insider Community, from my time leading the program and even now as I’ve somewhat moved on. It’s an incredible team to be a part of and I’m excited to see both Xbox Insiders and partners both get to utilize the program more.

Incredible man. Dean, thanks so much for taking the time chat today.

Xbox Insiders, be sure to be on the lookout for more content all throughout February including more interviews from the team, a trip down memory lane, and so much more. All of our 10th Anniversary content can be found on our Hub Page.

Until next time! Wy\nn/