10 Years at Microsoft

This past week marked my ten year anniversary at Microsoft.  I never would have guessed that answering the call to join the Mac Internet Explorer team would have led to the long adventure my time at Microsoft has been.  Heck, I came in as a Mac guy and now I’m a PC.  What’s even more incredible is that I reached my ten year milestone working nearly the entire time on product teams in Silicon Valley.

Here’s what I savor most about my ten years:

  1. The opportunity to work with incredibly smart and passionate people from all over the world

    Between members of the teams I have worked on and members of other teams that I have gotten to know through collaboration and networking, I have always been impressed by the caliber of people we have.  In addition to being highly skilled at software development, they have also become great friends.  I fondly remember coworkers throwing a surprise party for my MBA graduation, countless baby showers for coworkers and being invited to parties, Thanksgiving dinners and weddings.  One benefit of Microsoft’s global reach is that my experiences also extend to customers, partners and colleagues outside the US where I have shared great times both inside and outside of work – my 2008 Europe trip being one of the international highlights.  Regardless of where I am ten years from now, I know that many of these friendships will endure.

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    Dinner in Japan with members of the Windows Media Center team and our Japan subsidiary.
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    For a number of years we had bocce ball games outside our building during the Friday beer bashes.
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    Our MSTV rock band. Yes, that's me with the Superman outfit playing drums.

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    My German colleagues and I on our road trip through the French Alps.
  2. Working on cool stuff and the latest technology ultimately leading to shipping great products

    Though I’m not an EE or CS major, I have always been deeply engaged with technology and media and Microsoft provided me no shortage of technical challenges and opportunities to wrap my head around.  Software and services I have worked on have gone on to win various awards and have enjoyed high customer satisfaction.  Beyond the products I’ve shipped, working at Microsoft provided me with generous amounts of technology to get my job done, great “dogfood” opportunities and access to all of our products for internal use.  It’s a bit like being a compulsive eater at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

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    Bill Gates demoing our product at CES
  3. A variety of teams and career growth opportunities

    One thing that has kept me at Microsoft for this long is the chance to grow by working on a variety of teams in the company.  In many ways, Microsoft is a collection of smaller companies so when you’ve got the itch to try something new, there’s usually an option to do it on another team.  I have worked in small established teams (Mac IE), large established teams (Windows) and startup teams (TV services, Mediaroom) so there’s quite a wide variety of products and experiences you can have within Microsoft.  During my years I have broadened and deepened my skill set through on the job experience and numerous internal career development courses.

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    Fellow TV services founder Thomas Scott and I on a team sailing trip.

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    When we released IPTV 1.0 we had it in sky writing above our campus.
  4. Great compensation and benefits

    While we don’t have the daily free meals that some other companies offer, we do have an incredibly generous set of benefits — tuition, training, stock, retirement, drinks, discounts, gym membership, legal benefits and more.  When you hear about those “Cadillac plans” in the health care debates, that’s us.  Although Microsoft’s stock performance over my career hasn’t been great, the stock options and grants, ESPP, dollar cost averaging and salary/bonus have given me a very solid financial position.

  5. The tough times

    Yes, you read that right.  I thrive on big challenges and I’ve been at my best at the toughest times — the death marches to ship something on an aggressive schedule, the bootstrapping of something new, the days leading to a big demo or meeting with a customer or the challenge of taking on something completely different.

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    The "Jalapeno" DVR team that survived the death march to ship for Comcast. Many of us later united to ship IPTV DVR in time for AT&T's U-Verse launch.
  6. A spirit of philanthropy

    Whether it’s former employees who start a non-profit or philanthropic foundation or the everyday donations from employees in the Giving Campaign, Microsoft has a culture of philanthropy and supports employees volunteering and giving through a wide-range of organizations and grassroots efforts.  Recently, Microsoft and its employees mobilized to support the people of Haiti affected by the tragic earthquake there through an initial $1.25M corporate donation, employee donations over $1M (with Microsoft matching that) and efforts from multiple product teams and individuals.

  7. Seeing your product in the market

    It is fun to see people use things you worked on. It’s also fun seeing the reviews, awards and ads (and parodies of ads) for them.  Microsoft encourages us to engage with our customers through public forums, blogs, twitter, conferences and other outlets and it is always a pleasure interacting with customers on products I’ve worked on – regardless of whether the feedback is complimentary or critical.

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    AT&T U-Verse ad at the store I run past regularly

We’ll see what the future holds but regardless of what it is, I will always savor my time at Microsoft and the knowledge, friendships and experiences I’ve gained there.

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