Meet the Judges of the 2022 Imagine Cup World Championship

2022 brings the 20and birthday Imagine Cup, the premier global student technology competition where students around the world apply technology to imagine, develop and showcase innovative solutions that address real local and global problems. This year, students from more than 160 countries participated in the competition. Ideas submitted included an app that teaches children to write interactively, a monitoring system that ensures ideal conditions for the safe storage and transport of products, an app that translates sign language into Python code, and a breeding chicken health monitoring system.

Out of tens of thousands of registrants, 48 ​​global finalist teams were selected last month, and only 3 teams remain. May 24, the first day of Microsoft version, they will compete in the Imagine Cup World Championship for the grand prize of $50,000 in Azure Credits, a cash prize of $100,000, and a mentorship session with Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella. Each team will present their project and demonstrate their technology, followed by questions from a panel of seasoned professionals. Judges will use their industry and personal experience to evaluate each solution based on its use of Azure technology, accessibility and inclusion, marketability as a business idea, and potential for impact.

Let’s meet the judges:


Linda Lian

CEO and Founder

Common room

Linda Lian is co-founder and CEO of Common room, the smart community growth platform for today’s fastest growing businesses. She founded Common Room in 2020 to help bring organizations of all sizes closer to their communities. Common Room is the first and only platform that brings together community engagement, product usage, and customer data in one place and makes it actionable for organizations. Previously, Linda led product marketing for serverless computing at Amazon Web Services, where she saw firsthand the impact of developer communities on product adoption and the advancement of business goals. She lives in Seattle where she enjoys spending time outdoors and with her partner, dog and cat.


Kat Norton

Founder and Chief Excel Officer

Miss Excel

Kat Norton spent 4 years as a consultant teaching Excel and in June 2020 decided to post mini Excel lessons on TikTok out of boredom. His viral Excel trick videos are infused with creativity, music, dance and genuine passion; they of course quickly went viral. The fourth video featured the XLOOKUP data search function set to the DMX song “X Gon Give It To Ya” and surpassed 100,000 views in just a few days. Within months, she developed online courses to sell directly to consumers. This fun bustle turned into Miss Excela successful full-time Excel training business with over 1 million subscribers across ICT Tac & instagram — and brought in 7 figures in course sales.

She also conducts corporate Excel trainings and does motivational speaking on how to shift your energy to find fulfillment in your career. Kat recently received the Microsoft MVP Award and has been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, Fox, Bloomberg, The Times and Daily Mail as a pioneer in the “Excel Influencer” space. Kat was also named one of Top 10 Social Media Influencers of 2021 by Forbes.


Phil Spencer


Microsoft Games

Phil Spencer leads Microsoft’s global interactive entertainment business across all devices and services. He plays all kinds of games and has worked in technology and entertainment for over 30 years, leading global business, creative and engineering teams. He previously held positions at Microsoft, including Executive Vice President, Gaming; Xbox Manager; Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Studios; and General Manager, Microsoft Game Studios EMEA.

In his roles at Microsoft, Phil led the Xbox organization through multiple console launches; several acquisitions, including Mojang (parent company of Minecraft); and influenced global entertainment franchises such as Halo, Gears of War and Forza. He also led the expansion of cross-platform gaming with the Xbox Network, investments in subscription business models with Xbox Game Pass, and Microsoft’s introduction of Xbox Cloud Gaming. Along with his team and colleagues, he continues to push the boundaries of creativity, technical innovation and fun across genres, audiences and devices.

Before beginning his career as an intern at Microsoft in 1988, Phil graduated from the University of Washington. He is an executive sponsor of the university’s Human-Centered Design and Engineering department and also sits on the board of the Paley Center for Media.

Join us May 24 on Microsoft version to find out who will become the champion of the Imagine Cup 2022! Follow the action on instagram and Twitter to stay up to date with all the competition action. Plus, as a student at Microsoft Build, you can explore topics designed to inspire your learning journey and help you advance your tech career or build your next amazing project. Register now for free!

Sam D. Gomez