10 years later....



Today, I’m celebrating 10 years at Microsoft.  At just 34 years old, that equates to 1/3 of my waking life. Whoa! Now, you may be thinking, “That’s great, but so what?!”  Well, for me – it’s kind of a big deal. I never thought I’d be here. I studied Anthropology and wanted to save the world. I’ve narrowed my scope in the years since, but not my ambition. I remember telling my parents at an early age that I never wanted to “work with computers.” I wanted to work with people, and become a humanitarian. My brother was the STEM boy genius. Studying mathematics, physics and education.

Fast forward - Today, I work at Microsoft, and he’s a Missionary in Albania. I guess we’re both saving the world in our own ways, and well —life doesn’t always go to plan. That said, I’m proud to have worked for Microsoft this past decade. Look at that BABY FACE! I’ve grown and learned so much in these last ten years.  Mostly, I’ve learned that technology is a people business, and that I’m right where I’m meant to be. In honor of my 10-year anniversary, I’d thought I’d share my top 10 learnings. Most of which have nothing to do with technology.

  1. You’re never going to feel “ready”. Go for that big move, that big career change NOW.

  2. Learning is a life-long pursuit. Use your education and experience to inform your judgement and preparedness, but always keep an open mind.

  3. Find your “safety” – the person in your organization that cares about YOU, first. Personal growth will always translate into Professional growth. Next, pay it forward by being that safety for someone else.

  4. Clarity matters. Create clarity wherever you can. In every project. In every meeting. In every decision.

  5. Leaders create clarity, and energy.

  6. Trust is earned, not given.

  7. Organizations with a high degree of trust, often exhibit a high degree of vulnerability, and therefore courage to take more calculated risks.

  8. Get that degree. But realize that hard work and tenacity will always set you apart in a group of highly educated individuals.

  9. Life is all about having a growth-mindset.  Find a company that celebrates having a learn-it-all vs. know-it-all culture, and spend your time and talents there. Microsoft is a great choice.  

  10. And finally, because I get asked this a lot —being a woman in business isn’t hard. I like standing out in the crowd. It’s being expected to think (and act) like a man that is hard. If I’ve learned anything from studying Anthropology and spending the last decade in the tech industry, it is that ethnocentricism is real. Cultures will always be defined by their predominant voice and pattern of thinking. I believe that the companies who will set themselves apart in the next decade will be those who bring the most diverse voices, and patterns of thinking, to the table.

Perhaps I ended up a humanitarian after all. Not on the frontlines of the Peace Corp, Red Cross, or one of the thousands of NGOs. But right here, in Corporate America. Making my voice and pattern of thinking known. And accepted as the norm. For myself, and generations of women to come.

Thanks for listening. Cheers to the next 10 years!