Laila Bukhari, a passionate believer in technology and a great example of a female TAM in Services, started her journey at MS as a MACH. Since she joined MS, she experienced how the company appreciates talent while working with inspirational people. A little bit about herself, Laila studied Computer Science and worked in several organizations including MIT in the US before moving to her current role at MS. Let’s meet our talent and explore her journey further.
So how did your journey start with MS?
Officially in 2012, I was hired as a MACH under the Services TAM track. I was pleasantly surprised of how welcoming and supportive the environment was, given I had an accelerated start as I covered a fellow-MACH while she was on maternity leave. As such, I started managing my colleagues’ commercial accounts during my third week at Microsoft!
I was a back-up TAM for 3 months for customer based in the Western region (Jeddah), and I can honestly say it was an incredibly valuable learning experience. Since being in a customer facing role, you are expected to manage your customer during the good and the bad times, but still quite valuable. The best achievement I recall was helping to position the first Premier Mission Critical (PMC) offering in Saudi Arabia and the third in MEA. Credit to my wonderful TAM colleague for closing that opportunity and delivering it, so it was really special to have my name included in the announcement for PMC, it is a great example of being part of a company and a team who knows when to say ‘thank you’ and ‘good job’!
I then relocated to the Eastern region (Al-Khobar) to manage accounts. There were no female TAMs in the East, so I was the first female TAM. I worked closely with a great peer mentor on the account handover, and during that time (Ramadan), a massive cyber-security attack hit my customer, causing a huge crisis for them and some of their affiliates. As an immediate call to action, my colleague and I mobilized the remediation efforts, I cancelled my vacation plans and worked very closely, around the clock, to ensure we had the best resources onsite and offsite available for the customer. Eventually, and with the great support of our army of PFE’s, consultants, CTS and GTSC engineers we were able to rebuild the customer’s IT infrastructure.
Looking back at this experience, I can say it wasn’t the best situation for my customer, but nevertheless, it was a rewarding learning experience, and as a result, my relationship with my customer grew stronger, positioning me as a trusted advisor.
“Come as you are, do what you love” – so from this inspiration, could you please let us know your experience so far as a female Technical Account Manager based in Saudi? What is the best part of your job and what do you like best about working at MS as a female employee?
I am quite an extrovert, I like getting into interesting discussions (technically and philosophically) about what I’m reading, what I’m doing (inside and outside of work) and what I intend to do. I am also a risk taker, I like to challenge the status quo, and this has worked well with my customers, and has paved a way for me to position critical services in a timely manner and capitalize on them, which strengthened Microsoft’s footprint in my accounts in general and my advisory status with my customer in specific. As such, as a TAM, the best part of my job is making an impact on our customers and helping them solve real-life issues as well as optimizing what already exists. As a female working at Microsoft, the best part of my job is working in a female-friendly and supportive environment with talented and inspiring people, especially our female colleagues (shout out to the PHENOMENAL ladies of MS Arabia)! I learn a lot from the great people I work with and I draw inspiration from them.
What advice would you give to other females from your country/area, potentially considering joining Microsoft?
I would say “Go for it & Don’t be afraid!” Our region and country is rapidly changing and there is great potential, so challenge yourself and be part of the change. Know that this company has many areas you can explore, so this is your chance, don’t shy away!
If you are considering to work for Microsoft, you’re in the right direction! Keep in mind that this is a company that challenges you and it is worth it!
Thanks Laila! If you’re interested in seeing what careers are available for you, you can do that here!