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Company Profile: Microsoft

February 20, 2017

IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE SOMEONE YELLING IN YOUR FACE, YOU SHOULDN’T WORK HERE!!

A friend of mine was interviewing for a program manager position in the Microsoft Exchange development team. She was a brilliant course developer, but our training group had been disbanded. The result of our management team not properly explaining why it took 40 hours to develop a single hour of training. Teams were often created and disbanded as projects morphed or got cancelled. Janet, had been hired into the training group from outside Microsoft. This was her first experience moving to another team. It didn’t go well, but it was an example of the extremes at the company in Redmond.

In my nine year Microsoft career, I had about 20 different managers and worked in a half dozen different departments. My experience was pretty typical. Microsoft intentionally moved people around. The management goal was to keep people from becoming too comfortable in a particular role. Microsoft wanted its employees to constantly be going through that process of learning new things.

For the most part, the process worked well. During my years with the company, they were the biggest and the badest software company in the world. This was before Google and Facebook. It wasn’t before Apple, of course, but it was before the iPod and that was important.

Microsofties (yeah, not the greatest nickname) believed we were the best in the world. And often we were right. We also wanted to not just beat the competition, but crush them. So, it was surprising at one company meeting to see a simulcast from California. Microsoft was announcing a $100,000,000 “partnership” with Apple. The most popular application on the Mac at the time was Microsoft Office. We didn’t see Apple as much of a threat, but we also didn’t feel any love for Steve Jobs company. And now we were partners?

It wasn’t until much later, after I left Microsoft that the real story came out. Steve Jobs had recently taken over leadership of his company and it was broke. He had some great ideas (iPod, iPad, iTunes) but he needed a bridge loan to meet payroll until he could get those products to market. He called Bill Gates and asked for help. Gates announced it as an “investment.” Really, it was a $100M gift. And it saved Apple. Considering I’m typing this on an iPad, it’s hard to imagine what life would be like if Bill Gates had truly wanted to crush his business rivals.

The interview with the screaming program manager actually went pretty well. That PM was a jerk. (There were more than usual at Microsoft.) He decided that “testing” people during the interview process was important. I never interviewed with him, so I can’t say if it was effective or not.

Microsoft was one of the best companies I ever worked for.

Years employed: 1994-2003
Position: Program Manager
Best thing: Able to pay for kids’ adoption (They paid pretty well)
Worst thing: Lots of arrogant people
My Company Rating: 4.5 Stars

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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