Monthly Archives: July 2013

Microsoft Japan Customer Service and Support Center Drives Carbon-Neutral Initiative and Saves Electric Power

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Customer Service and Support for Microsoft Japan’s main office in Chofuhas has 600 employees, and they have been driving a Carbon Neutral initiative since early FY13, in the wake of the Japan earthquake. In line with the government’s aim to reduce electricity usage by 15% in 2011, the CSS Japan Chofuoffice Facility team investigated the causes of electricity over-usage, and took measures to trim usage as much as possible.
The following measures were implemented:
•Mandating that employees turn off their PCs when returning home
•Migrating of testing from physical PCs to Microsoft’s Global Business Support Lab Virtualization Service (VMAS)
•Turning up the air-conditioning from 24℃to 26℃in the summer
•Turning off the lights at 8pm every day in summer
With these measures, CSS Japan saved 15,000 kWh of electricity per month. Fantastic job!

If you are interested in Careers with Microsoft in Japan please visit our http://careers.microsoft.com/careers/en/jp/offices.aspx or to learn about Microsoft Services Check our new recruiting microsite, http://www.rightnowim.in/

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Women execs are prominent in Microsoft overhaul

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By Chris O’Brien – Los Angeles Times
July 12, 2013, 12:32 p.m.
In a year when Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has blown up just about every corner of the 38-year-old Microsoft, rebooted nearly every product, and tried to overhaul the company’s culture, his most astonishing statement came during a conference call on Thursday to announce a major reorganization.
“It’s a big day for me and the women and men around the table who form the Microsoft leadership team, and we appreciate your taking time from us,” Ballmer said. “We’re ready to take Microsoft in bold new directions and really delight both our consumer and business customers.”
Did you catch it? No, it’s not his use of “delight,” Silicon Valley’s fetish word of the moment, silly.
Squint harder. Let me give you a clue: “women and men.”
Women. And. Men.
That’s right. In a major reorganization of the company, mighty Microsoft of the North now has four — count ’em — four women in its top 14 executive positions.
What in the name of Billie Jean King is going on up there?
Apparently they lost the technology industry playbook handed out to incoming freshman each year that has pretty clear rules about keeping a lid on the number of women in tech.
According to a 2011 study of the 400 largest California companies by UC Davis, and Watermark, a Bay Area organization that runs programs to grow the numbers of women business leaders, the tech industry has a dismal record in this area.
To wit, the software and semiconductor industries had the lowest percentages of all industries, posting just 4.4 % and 2.7%, respectively, of women in upper management.
Microsoft (yes, I’m aware it’s not in California) seems intent on bucking that trend. To recap, after shuffling the business units, the four women in the top ranks are:
1. Amy Hood, executive vice president and chief financial officer.
2. Julie Larson-Green, executive vice president, Devices and Studios.
3. Lisa Brummel, executive vice president, Human Resources
4. Tami Reller, executive vice president, Marketing
Reller and Larson-Green were execs who saw their duties significantly expanded this week.
Compare that with say, Apple, which is so dominated by white guys in the exec ranks it could be mistaken for a lacrosse team.
Still, even more surprising is that Microsoft may actually be part of a small but growing trend among larger tech companies.
For instance, Microsoft is now on par with Cisco Systems, which has 4 women in the top 14. The leader in Silicon Valley is Oracle, which lists six women in its top 26 executive roles.
HP, led by Chief Executive Meg Whitman, has women in 3 of 14 top spots. Yahoo, with Marissa Mayer in the captain’s chair, has 3 of 12.
Lagging a bit are Facebook, 1 of 4 and Google, 1 of 13 (though the latter gets bonus points for racial diversity).
I’m sure the rest of the dudes who dominate Silicon Valley’s techno-culture aren’t exactly shaking in their boots about this latest radicalization of exec ranks. But still, it’s worth acknowledging that there are some steps forward being taken, even if parity remains a distant dream over the horizon.

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Startup culture stirring at Microsoft

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These five Microsoft employees are involved in creating startup cultures in their various divisions. From left: Ben, Guy, Sally, James and Kurt.

Can a company with 98,000 employees act like a startup? As it becomes a “devices and services” company, Microsoft is trying to encourage a culture that’s more collaborative and faster-paced than it has been over the years.
By Janet I. Tu
Seattle Times technology reporter

Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times
These five Microsoft employees are involved in creating startup cultures in their various divisions. From left: Ben Gilbert, Guy Shahine, Sally Huang, James Phillips and Kurt Berglund.
Guy Shahine works at a multibillion-dollar company that has dominated the software industry for decades and has nearly 98,000 employees worldwide.
Yet, he insists, he also works at a startup.
Shahine, in Microsoft’s Online Services Division, believes a just-launched project his Bing Advertising team is working on — linking customers’ credit cards to discount deals offered by restaurants and retailers — is essentially a startup.
“We have these ideas out there that, to some people, might sound awesome, and, to others, they think might not work out,” he said. “The only way to know is to put out those ideas, see how the market, how the customers, react to them. It’s all about experimenting, learning from those experiments, iterating.”
That sort of thinking is beginning to take hold in certain pockets at Microsoft, some there believe, as the company becomes one that provides devices and services, rather than just traditional software.
That transition is one Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been beating the drum on for almost a year now. It’s the reason the company is expected to announce soon a major reorganization to better align its divisions along devices and services lines.
And it’s a reason its culture is beginning to shift.
The company has long had a reputation of being a stodgy organization full of infighting where getting something done might require battling through layers of bureaucracy.
Now, some employees say, the company culture is becoming more collaborative, faster paced, and infused in places with what some are calling a “startup vibe” — a sense of being the underdog, of creating something experimental that has to be tested in the market, and a willingness to incorporate feedback into those experiments quickly.
“I would not say it is yet prevalent across the entire company or even consistent. But I would say you see it in a lot of spots and with a lot of people,” said Scott Pitasky, a Microsoft corporate vice president in human resources.
The change has come about partly because of direction from the top.
Ballmer, in his recent appointments to key positions, has emphasized the importance of cooperation across the whole company as its products and services become evermore intertwined: Skype on Xbox, for example, or Yammer in Office.
He also has stressed the importance of picking up the pace on updates as the company increasingly focuses on providing services.
These days, people are used to getting new features frequently in their services and apps. If those innovations don’t come fast enough, or if there’s a void in the market, competitors rush in.
Part of the shifting company culture has also bubbled up from the bottom.
More job candidates and employees either have experiences with startups or are attracted to their flatter hierarchies, high energy and sense of urgency and ownership.
In a market where Microsoft is fiercely battling for top-tier talent against newer tech giants such as Google and Amazon.com, as well as nimble startups, having that sort of vibe can be a recruiting plus.
And it appears Microsoft is realizing that it can learn from the cultures of the startups it acquires.
Hard lessons
That hasn’t always been the case. For instance, several years ago, after it purchased Silicon Valley startup Danger, maker of the Sidekick mobile phone, employees at Danger felt their startup culture clashed with Microsoft’s corporate one, and things took far longer to build than they were used to. And many of Danger’s people ended up working on Microsoft’s own smartphone, the short-lived Kin.
“In the past, we had the orientation of: ‘How’s the technology? How strong are the people they have?’ ” Pitasky said. “We paid attention to their culture in terms of integrating [them into Microsoft]. But … I don’t think we paid as much attention to their culture in terms of learning from it.”
Now, he said, “We are a lot more aware of the culture of the companies that we are acquiring … not just what they’re doing but how they’re doing them.”
Yammer opportunity
That seems to be the case with San Francisco-based Yammer, the business social-networking and collaboration startup Microsoft bought last year. Yammer, which provides a Facebook-like social network for companies, has about 350 employees in San Francisco and London offices.
“I actually think Microsoft is learning a lot from us, and we’ve been eager to share some of those things,” said Kris Gale, vice president of engineering at Yammer.
Indeed, some engineers on Microsoft’s Redmond campus who used to be part of the SharePoint team have adopted some of those principles and re-branded themselves “Yammer North.” SharePoint is Microsoft’s work-collaboration software.
But, Gale points out, there are two things working in Yammer’s favor that were perhaps absent when Microsoft acquired other startups.
The first is timing.
“We’re in Office at a time when they’re transitioning to services and they’re working on increasing their cadence, trying to get faster,” Gale said. “It was easy to say: ‘We have these cultural things that are important to us and we think they might provide value to you.’ ”
Microsoft, like many other engineering-focused companies, is hierarchical and centered on predictability, Gale said.
Yammer’s hierarchy is flatter, and its engineers organized in a more free-flowing fashion, forming, disbanding then reorganizing as ever-new projects start.
“There’s no traditional concept of product ownership or code ownership,” Gale said, leading to fewer turf battles and lots more flexibility.
The second factor in Yammer’s success at Microsoft, Gale said, is assertiveness on its own behalf.
As much as senior leaders may buy into the idea that their staff can learn from an acquired smaller company’s culture, middle layers often want things done as they’ve always been.
Though he declined to get into details, Gale said there have been times when Yammer clashed with Microsoft on IT or human-resources policies.
“We were able to appeal to senior leadership and get that resolved,” he said. “With Yammer, we’ve been firm about company values, about employee empowerment.”
Acting on idea
Shahine, a development lead with Microsoft’s Online Services Division, is working on Bing Offers Card-Linked, which electronically links a user’s credit card with discount deals featured on Bing Offers. When someone purchases a deal, the discount is automatically applied to their credit-card statement.
That means the user doesn’t have to carry easily misplaced coupons; or, if the offer is for 50 percent off if a customer spends $20 at a certain retailer, the offer is automatically redeemed when you ring up $20 at checkout.
“The idea was about how we can make this simpler, more customer-friendly,” Shahine said.
There were questions team members didn’t have answers to, he said, such as whether they should first attract merchants or customers. So they decided to just try putting the idea out there and getting a pulse on what works and what needs changing. Card-Linked is now up on the Bing Offers beta site.
Bing Offers, which also will be featured on Outlook.com and Skype (for customers who use the no-fee version of the service), is an example of how the company is integrating its products.
Such collaboration “is a rallying cry. We all feel it,” said Ben Gilbert, who runs The Garage, Microsoft’s initiative to encourage innovation among employees.
Project center
The Garage is a community and actual physical space on the Redmond campus where employees can work on their side projects and get feedback. A number of employee projects that have come out of The Garage have been incorporated into company products — and at a quicker pace these days.
That’s important, Gilbert says, “in a services world, where you have to move quickly.”
Then there are the one-time events that attempt to incorporate some elements of startups, such as hackathons — a set time during which programmers and others create code or software for defined purposes.
One of Pitasky’s recruiting-team members came up with the idea to hold a 24-hour nontechnical “hackathon” to brainstorm how they could improve the recruiting experience for college candidates.
They held the event a few weeks ago in The Garage, complete with a Zumba class at night, a yoga class in the morning, and no requirement that people be there the entire time.
Typically, ideas for improving recruitment processes pop up here and there among team members, then take six more months to execute, said Anthony Rotoli, the technical recruiter who came up with the “hackathon” idea.
“I thought it would be better to just knock it out all at once, then implement it immediately,” Rotoli said.
Pitasky said this sense of a startup culture at Microsoft is only just emerging — but enough so that “it’s something we’re starting to be able to expose to candidates,” along with the traditional strengths of Microsoft, such as its scale and resources.
“There’s this recognition,” Pitasky said, “that maybe we’re heading toward trying to get the best of both worlds.”
Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or jtu@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @janettu. Information from The Seattle Times archives was used in this report.

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Three international siblings share how they each landed their dream job at Microsoft.

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Written by:

Michelle Feder

Ever since they were kids, the Aslaners loved technology. Now, in Germany and Dubai, the two brothers and a sister have jobs they love—all in the same business group. The three employees explain how they made their family tree flourish at Microsoft.

The oldest: Aydin Aslaner is a Senior Premier Field Engineer for Networking and Security at Microsoft Gulf (Dubai).

Question: When did you discover your passion for technology? And how did you wind up at Microsoft?

Aydin:I always felt I was born to be a geek. It started in childhood with an Atari 2600, Commodore 64, and continued through high school.

I was the first one of us to come to Microsoft, in January 2006. I joined as a support engineer based in Istanbul for German-speaking customers. I had worked in Germany for a Microsoft partner before that.

Since my childhood, I always dreamed about working for Microsoft. I applied for a job and didn’t hear back. I figured, it’s such a huge company, they’re considering a thousand people. In the meantime, I moved from Germany to Turkey for a life change. Somewhat out of the blue, I got a call from the hiring staff, and after a couple of interviews, I was hired. After five years in Turkey in support, where I became an Escalation Engineer in Networking, I moved with my family to Dubai and joined Premier Field Engineering, where I am now.

My brother Milad is a 12-years-younger version of me, with the same passion but more energy. I think he has a very good career growth opportunity at Microsoft. It wasn’t that hard to make him switch from Apple. ; )

The youngest in the family: Milad Aslaner is part of the Premier Field Engineering group, focusing on Windows Reliability and Performance. He is based in Germany.
Before Microsoft I was working in a similar role but for Apple. I always wanted to work for Microsoft but I thought, “I have to build a reputation before I apply.”

Near the end of my time at Apple, I was visiting my brother in Istanbul and I went with him to the office. Aydin gave me a speech that finalized my career decision. He gave me two books, one on Windows Internals, and one on TCP/IP. He said, “Milad, I know you want to work for Microsoft. Read these books, understand them, and be able to explain them to me in the words of an IT decision maker and support engineer.” It became obvious to me that I had learned everything I could from Apple and the next step was for me to join a company where I could utilize the things written in the books.

When the time came, I asked my brother, who was doing technical screenings for Microsoft Support, if he could test me. After about 20 questions, he said, “You are ready.” That’s when he suggested I apply for the role of Premier Field Engineer.

During the technical interview, my manager asked me how flexible I could be on the job. My answer was, “You could send me to Alaska for 10 years. I don’t mind. All I want is to join Microsoft and let my dream come true.” Well, I didn’t have to fly to Alaska but have relocated twice for the company within Germany.

So after two years at Apple, I joined Microsoft. I’m doing exactly what I love and what I always wanted to do.

The sister: Aylin Aslaner is a Technical Account Manager in Germany.

Just like Milad, I always looked up to my older brother. I was always looking at how he was learning and communicating and tried to do the same.

I wanted to have a career that would combine innovation and creativity. I decided to study civil engineering. This is not an area women typically study, but as my mother used to say, “Tell Aylin to run 5 km and she will try to run around the globe!”

With two brothers working in IT, over time I became more and more interested in what they were talking about at the dinner table: how they help customers have a healthy IT environment, and how they prepare for holding sessions at events like TechEd.

One night we were all talking and my brothers were saying how they were working with Technical Account Managers to support a customer. I noticed the job they were describing was similar to the role I had at the time at another company. A week later, I called Aydin. I had looked on Microsoft’s career website and saw a job opening for a Technical Account Manager.

Now I’m working at Microsoft and proud of what I’m doing every day. Besides getting married and having two adorable kids, it was the best decision of my life.

What does a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer do?Read Milad’s day-in-the-life blog post.

Meet some more PFEs who love their jobs.

Learn more about careers at Microsoft.

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“Yesterday Technical Engineer, today Support Manager”

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“If you are in Bucharest, Stockholm, Timisoara or New York, I don’t think the difference are noticeable any more. When you enter the office and switch on the laptop you have unlimited possibilities – windows to the world”. Camelia says that life at Microsoft is getting cooler and cooler. “You speak with so many people at the office and from the other corner of the world, learn so many different languages and cultures and you have the flexibility to grow in any are you want. There is nothing stopping you to reach your full potential. It’s cool, try it!”
Camelia is at only 29 years old the Support Manager for the Windows Server and System Center team and is working for Microsoft for 5 years already. She grew is a very dynamic and quick pace starting as a technical support engineer on Italian and French, moved to a technical lead and now a support manager.
While she was a technical lead she faced a series of exams and training which have allowed her to become what she is today.
She starts the day with a “good morning” – smiling. She looks through the agenda, sets the priorities for the day, checks emails, has team meetings, and sets business priorities and so forth. She thinks that no day is like another and neither the approaches to solving different problems for the Support Engineers. Beyond the competences and high level of technical knowledge a support engineer needs a creative thinking. There will be cases where the solution is outside the box or even outside the room (when you need help from people outside your own department or business). Even though the number of skills asked from Microsoft in order to get hired might seem overwhelming (speaking a second foreign language, communication skills, technical abilities) each of our colleagues can set his own program of evolution and mentoring specific to his need so that he or she can develop all these things in parallel.
“Each person has his own way but nobody is sure. During this 5 years I had career mentors and management mentors, not only from Romania but only from USA and Asia. The important thing is to ask from feedback, and not from the people that make you feel comfortable”. Camelia has had sessions of mentoring during the 5 years. After her own first 2 years she started being a mentor for other people in her team so that she could help others reach their full potential.
Camelia says that you can always do a lateral step in the career so that you can learn more technologies and this will allow a broader perspective of the business. While she was a Support Engineer and Technical leas she was constantly doing trainings and presentations, either for new colleagues or for the management. She is a proof that sharing best practices and mutual learning are very good ways of developing in Microsoft.
“Why Microsoft? For the joy she has every days because of the people that surround me, because of the multiple ways of developing my career, because of the way that each experience has modelled my personality. Here I has exited my comfort zone and learn to be dedicated to a job, work a team and how important is to have big bold challenges.

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Wanna work with me Wednesday

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We hope you have enjoyed our Wanna Work with Me Wednesday. Thanks to all 19 of our PFEs for participating in this endeavor and giving such a wonderful view into what they do as a PFE as well as sharing their passion for what they do. We are taking a short summer recess. We are hoping that you have become excited about the PFE role and on this last installment we wanted to give you more information on Premier Field Engineering (PFE) and how to join us.
A good place to start learning more about the PFE business is at our Microsoft Services home page for Premier Support which is located here: http://bit.ly/evguPB. You can also search for PFE jobs at this location.
And speaking of searching for PFE roles – also try our career site which is located here – http://bit.ly/aeGcH1
Know a PFE? Ask them to refer you to a role. This will put you in front of a PFE Staffing Consultant directly.

Stay tuned! More first-hand PFE stories coming a little later this summer

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