Humans of IT Blog articles Humans of IT Blog articles Wed, 17 Aug 2022 17:11:54 GMT HoIT-Blog 2022-08-17T17:11:54Z [Guest Blog] Why would you be interested in building a tech community? <P>I was born and raised in Pakistan. I lost my father when I was 11 years old, and since then, I have been trying my best to fulfil the dream he envisioned for me (I love you, Baba!). I will always be thankful to my elders and still feel lucky to be one of the blessed people who got the opportunity to complete my studies at a graduate level.&nbsp; Unfortunately, this is not the case for almost 80% of the youth in the country I belong. They can’t usually pursue their aspirations and one of the reasons is the lack of essential resources and connections to a global audience.<BR /><BR /></P> <P>I always wanted to be the part of the community to learn more and more in short time, this led me to join <A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Microsoft Dynamics Community</A> in 2009 and since then I have been contributing to the community at different forums and sharing my experience with my personal blog <A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">AX + Dynamics 365 Library</A><BR /><BR /></P> <P>I left my motherland in 2011; lived in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, and finally settled in Australia in 2015. Being active in the Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations community in the countries I lived in has created opportunities for me to share experiences with like-minded professionals, and this has been beneficial to my work life. My interactions with the community have allowed me to think out of the box and to learn best practices from fellow community members – all of which have contributed to my professional growth.<BR /><BR /></P> <P>Being active in the community has also paved the way for me to grow my network – from tech enthusiasts who have been in the industry for years to those who are about to kickstart their career in Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.<BR /><BR /></P> <P>The benefits I have enjoyed by being active in the Dynamics community have inspired me to consider how I could give back to the community in Pakistan. I believe I could open opportunities for them by providing a platform that will allow them to access and learn from fantastic professionals who work on a global scale. This is the reason I established the <A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pakistan User Group</A>, and very recently, we have just marked a milestone in the community by hosting the second edition of <A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Urdu Hindi Bootcamp</A> – an event made possible through the support of the global community. The event ran for three days featuring over 70 speakers, some are home-grown talent from Pakistan and others are from the MVP community all over the world.<BR /><BR /></P> <P>Running an event of this scale was not easy, especially during a pandemic. It required a lot of patience and organizational skills, as well as agility to adjust to the constant changes in schedules. With the COVID Delta variant taking its toll in different parts of the world, I as the organizer, was mindful of each speaker’s personal commitments and individual circumstances and in some cases, that meant they had to back out of the event last minute.<BR /><BR /></P> <P>This experience has taught me important lessons about organizing an event, which has enriched my role as a community leader. I share them with the hope of inspiring other future community leaders so they can learn from my experience.<BR /><BR /></P> <UL> <LI><STRONG>Set a definite time for submissions for Calls for Paper (CFPs)</STRONG> – Set a deadline for accepting CFPs to allow yourself sufficient time to plan and structure the event. You might also want to create a group of people who will help review and select speakers who will not only deliver top class content but also demonstrate the values important to you and the community.</LI> <LI><STRONG>Focus on quality content vs quantity of speakers</STRONG> – Limit the event to two days maximum and try to focus on having one track at a time. For example, if you have Finance Operations and Customer Engagement tracks, then run one track at a time. This gives you more control on checking and providing the quality contents to the audience.</LI> <LI><STRONG>Understand what the audience wants to learn</STRONG> – Having a vote on all submitted sessions does help you as an organizer to have a pulse of what the audience needs, giving them confidence that their feedback has been considered.</LI> <LI><STRONG>Provide incentives for students to participate in workshops</STRONG> – Offering sessions delivered in Urdu and Hindi made the event more appealing to students. Many local universities and students responded positively to these sessions, and it helped that we were able to provide giveaways as an extra incentive.</LI> <LI><STRONG>Secure sponsorship</STRONG> – Virtual events do incur an expense so plan accordingly. For this event, I hired professional video editors and website designers to make the event look professional. Also think about the moderators and volunteers – without them I could not even plan for such a big event. You need to consider how you could show your gratitude for their efforts. This is the reason securing a sponsor is crucial – they can help ameliorate the experience for all those working behind the scenes to make the event successful.</LI> </UL> Thu, 03 Mar 2022 22:31:27 GMT Faisal-Fareed 2022-03-03T22:31:27Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Not Showing Up is Never an Option <P><SPAN><EM>This blog was written by Microsoft Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Shy Averett, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. Read about Shy's career journey, purpose, and the importance of showing up.</EM></SPAN></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><SPAN>Superheroes don’t always wear capes. They don’t necessarily fly, bend steel or shoot heat rays from their eye sockets. Want to know what a real superhero is? It’s an ordinary human who does extraordinary things. We all have our own special brand of&nbsp;super powers, those gifts and skills we’ve developed for use, not because we have to, but because they define so much of who we are.</SPAN></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-left" image-alt="superpowe.JPG" style="width: 664px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="superpowe.JPG" alt="superpowe.JPG" /></span></P> <P><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN></P> <P><SPAN>At the early age of ten, my mom recognized that I didn’t have the same interests as most children. Instead of chasing after the latest popular toy, I found myself organizing events and creating fun programs for other kids in the community. I’m so grateful that mom recognized it wasn’t just a pastime for me, but a gift for greater use. &nbsp;I remember the day when she came to me and said, “You have a special talent.” But talents only become super powers when you use them to benefit someone else, not wanting anything in return.</SPAN></P> <P><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN></P> <P><SPAN>A year later I joined the Detroit chapters of the NAACP and the Urban League. When mom asked why I wanted to join, I simply replied: “I want to be a superhero.” So by age thirteen, I was not only the Detroit chapter’s youth president, organizing all of its events, but the young adult president for the state of Michigan NAACP as well.&nbsp;All of a sudden, the neighborhood birthday parties and kids events I’d hosted didn’t matter anymore. I realized that my gift was missing something: pure purpose and passion.&nbsp;</SPAN></P> <P><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN></P> <P>So w<SPAN>orking with others to solve problems and achieve common goals was my talent. But my talent didn’t become a super power until I used&nbsp;it to create programs that increased voter registration, assisted workforce development and promoted civil rights for others, as I did through the NAACP for seventeen years. At Microsoft the same principle applies: Not only do each of us bring personal and professional skills to our positions, but each of us has the potential to develop these assets into forces that serve a greater good. However impressive our salaries or titles might be, our superhero potential is measured by the efforts we make to nurture success outside of our personal achievements.</SPAN><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN><BR /><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN></P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="alwieczo_0-1635193599363.jpeg" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="alwieczo_0-1635193599363.jpeg" alt="alwieczo_0-1635193599363.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><BR /><SPAN>Shirley Chisholm, who in 1968 became the first black woman elected to Congress, said, “Service is the rent you pay for room on this earth.” She was telling us the energy, resources and skills we’ve been given were never intended for us to use selfishly, hoarding valuable assets that should be distributed into the world around us. What if Shirley Chisholm, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or even Barack Obama had held back their courage, their intelligence, or their visions? I’m not pleased by a lot of what I see happening in society now – but I’m terrified to imagine a world that never gained from superpowers these women and men kept locked inside themselves. I’m terrified to think of what might have happened if they’d said to themselves, “I don’t have the time,” or “This is too hard.”</SPAN><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN><BR /><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN><BR /><SPAN>Of course, not everyone’s calling in life is to run for office or to walk on the frontlines of justice. But we all have a calling, a purpose, a super power! When I started at the Detroit Microsoft&nbsp;Store,&nbsp;I organized community events and created programs; later I moved to corporate with a mission to manage the entire Community program. I was excited to take myself and my super power (they can’t be separated) to Redmond and make an impact. See, once you identify your super power, you realize that you can’t put it down, nor can you walk away from it. It’s so much a part of who you are that it becomes your life’s mission. You want to make sure that everything you do includes it. After about a month in Redmond, I realized that the structure of the program was not conducive to my super power. At that point I had a hard decision to make: Either find a way to bring my super power into the new role or accept that the role wasn’t for me. Our program was great, but I realized I rarely saw young girls or black and brown students in the youth classes. We didn’t have programming for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and other diverse observances. I remember going to my leaders Travis Walter and David Porter and not only sharing my concern, but expressing my passion. Their support was the difference-maker in what occurred next. Because all superheroes need allies, right?</SPAN></P> <P><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN></P> <P><SPAN>Fast-forward three years: Thanks to the support of my fellow superhero and boss, Olga Lymberis, we have a black history program that impacted more than a half-million students in 2020. Our MANCODE initiative has introduced more than 250,000 black and brown boys to careers in AI, coding, and STEM. For the first time, we recently translated over twenty workshops into Spanish so as many people as possible can benefit from our program. Another major development was last year’s launch of the Legacy Project, Microsoft’s first fully virtual cultural museum celebrating black history, Hispanic heritage, women’s history and more. To date over 1.8 million individuals have had the opportunity to learn about the rich treasures hidden within these important cultures.</SPAN></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="alwieczo_1-1635193667784.jpeg" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="alwieczo_1-1635193667784.jpeg" alt="alwieczo_1-1635193667784.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><BR /><SPAN>None of these offerings came about because I was asked or instructed to develop them; they happened because I know my purpose and I understand that part of it obligates me to share.&nbsp;Showing up for work every day involves more than sitting down and logging into the Microsoft network. Truly “showing up” means identifying our purposes and recognizing that we all have roles that go beyond whatever assignments cross our desks in the course of the day. It might not be as exciting or fulfilling for you to come up with diversity and inclusion strategies or community outreach ideas as it is for me; these contributions accompany my individual calling, unique gifts and personal passion. But can you find a youth to mentor, or volunteer as a tutor in an underserved neighborhood? Can you contact a homeless shelter or volunteer to teach? The answer to what you can contribute might even be something no one else has thought of, but identifying your purpose and sharing your passion can have&nbsp;heroic&nbsp;results. You’d be surprised by the number of positive responses you’d get just by asking, “How can I help?”</SPAN><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN><BR /><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN><BR /><SPAN>Sharing what we have to offer is such a simple concept, but so powerful. It clarifies our lives and multiplies our strengths by transferring some of that strength into others. Think about a defining moment in your life and the person who most impacted you in that moment. Now imagine your life today if that person had decided he or she was too tired, too busy, or too preoccupied to play a role in your defining experience. One thing is certain: Someone’s waiting for you to show up, too.</SPAN><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN></P> Wed, 27 Oct 2021 19:20:31 GMT Shy_Averett 2021-10-27T19:20:31Z Humans of IT at MS Ignite November 2021 - 6 Sessions You Don't Want to Miss! <H3><STRONG>Humans of IT at MS Ignite November 2021 - 6 Sessions You Don't Want to Miss!</STRONG></H3> <P><EM>Microsoft Ignite is just around the corner and we are thrilled to announce that&nbsp;<STRONG>Humans of IT</STRONG>&nbsp;will be hosting&nbsp;<STRONG>6 sessions&nbsp;</STRONG>at the upcoming event! This year, Microsoft Ignite will be executed virtually from November 2nd through November 4th. P.S. If you haven't already heard, Microsoft Ignite is free to attend, so what are you waiting for?&nbsp;<A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Register</A>&nbsp;today.&nbsp;</EM></P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="alwieczo_0-1635190040374.png" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="alwieczo_0-1635190040374.png" alt="alwieczo_0-1635190040374.png" /></span></P> <DIV style="border: black; border-width: 2px; border-style: solid; padding: 5px;"> <H4>We rise by lifting others: Boost your career through community and mentorship</H4> <P>Connection Zone | Tuesday, November 2 | 11:30 AM - 12:00 PM PDT |&nbsp;REGISTER&nbsp;<A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE&nbsp;</A></P> <P><STRONG>Speakers:</STRONG>&nbsp;Ana Inés Urrutia de Souza,&nbsp;MVP | Practice Lead - Axazure</P> <HR /> <P>As a Psychologist with an HR background, Ana was able to switch careers and totally transform her professional and personal future by becoming part of #HumansofIT. How? With an incredible community that supported my learning needs, doubts, and insecurities through the power of mentorship. During this session, we will cover not only the basics of mentorships and how to take advantage of them, but also a collection of lessons learned, and of course, we will wrap up with some homework!</P> </DIV> <P>&nbsp;</P> <DIV style="border: black; border-width: 2px; border-style: solid; padding: 5px;"> <H4>Make an Impact: 5 Ways You Can Help Non-Profits with Your Tech Superpower</H4> <P>Connection Zone |&nbsp;Tuesday, November 2 | 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM PDT |&nbsp;REGISTER&nbsp;<A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE</A>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>Speakers:</STRONG>&nbsp;Rochelle Eichner | Scott Marden | Maritza Ortiz | Dux Raymond Sy</P> <HR /> <P>The pandemic has gravely affected nonprofits' resources while increasing demand for their services. As they are asked to do more with less money and reduced staff, technology plays a critical role to enable them to continue to serve those in need. Join Microsoft RD &amp; MVP, Dux Raymond Sy as he facilitates this interactive conversation with Microsoft Tech for Social Impact and non-profit heroes on how Humans of IT can best utilize our superpowers and support non-profits.</P> </DIV> <P>&nbsp;</P> <DIV style="border: black; border-width: 2px; border-style: solid; padding: 5px;"> <H4>Battling fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the workplace</H4> <P>Connection Zone |&nbsp;Tuesday, November 2 | 2:30 PM - 3:00 PM PDT |&nbsp;REGISTER&nbsp;<A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE</A>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>Speakers:</STRONG> Sarah Haase | Collaboration Group Product Manager-&nbsp;U.S. Bank</P> <HR /> <P>It's the voice in your head that tells you to keep quiet. It's the niggling feeling of imposter syndrome that won't go away. It's the regret you feel when you don't speak up.</P> <P>This session explores why fear, uncertainty, and doubt creep into our workplace and highlights ways to counteract it. Whether you're a technologist, an organizational leader, or a mentor that wants to support the growth of others, you'll get practical tips for overcoming the negative and lifting yourself (and others) up.</P> </DIV> <P>&nbsp;</P> <DIV style="border: black; border-width: 2px; border-style: solid; padding: 5px;"> <H4>The Future of Hybrid Work and Mental Health</H4> <P>Connection Zone |&nbsp;Wednesday, November 3 | 11:30 AM - 12:00 PM PDT |&nbsp;REGISTER&nbsp;<A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE</A>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>Speaker:</STRONG>&nbsp;Megan Lawrence | Microsoft</P> <HR /> <P>The global pandemic has allowed us to reexamine the way we work and the role that technology plays in our lives. As we experiment with hybrid work models and the impact that it has on our mental health, there has been an outpouring of a variety of emotions, best practices and insight from the mental health communities at Microsoft and beyond. Join me to uncover what modern hybrid work means and the dual role that technologies play in mental health and wellbeing.</P> </DIV> <P>&nbsp;</P> <DIV style="border: black; border-width: 2px; border-style: solid; padding: 5px;"> <H4>Amplifying Black Voices at Microsoft</H4> <P>Connection Zone |&nbsp;Wednesday, November 3 | 1:30 PM - 2:00 PM PDT |&nbsp;REGISTER&nbsp;<A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE</A>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>Speakers:</STRONG>&nbsp;Bobby Akinboro | Pierre Darden | Skylar Dunn | Christina Gonsalves | LC Howland | Joshua West</P> <HR /> <P>On Juneteenth this year, Humans of IT launched the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. These blogs have showcased some of the amazing talent we have at Microsoft, and now, we’ve brought together some of those highlighted in the series to share their stories and insights. Join this panel to learn more about them and find out how being a part of this series has impacted their respective journeys at Microsoft over the course of the last several months..</P> </DIV> <P>&nbsp;</P> <DIV style="border: black; border-width: 2px; border-style: solid; padding: 5px;"> <H4>Building Real Human Connection Using Virtual Reality</H4> <P>Connection Zone | Wednesday, November 3 | 3:30 PM - 4:00 PM PDT|&nbsp;REGISTER&nbsp;<A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE</A>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>Speakers:</STRONG>&nbsp;Alex Blanton | CR Capers | Karolina Manko | Cathy Moya | Zaid Zaim</P> <HR /> <P>A key part of in-person events is coming together in real time with others to share experiences, like learning something together, having hallway conversations, seeing old friends, networking, and Happy Hours. Virtual Reality can provide all of these experiences - though the drinks are virtual! In this panel, we'll hear from experts who are using VR to recreate the connecting experiences we've been missing, and exploring VR to create new experiences that are possible only in the virtual world.</P> </DIV> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Want to register today?</P> <P>After reading this, I hope you're as excited as we are about Microsoft Ignite and featured Humans of IT sessions.&nbsp;<A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Register online</A>&nbsp;to secure your virtual seat!</P> Tue, 16 Nov 2021 23:22:34 GMT alwieczo 2021-11-16T23:22:34Z [Guest Blog] Living in an autism bubble in an ever-changing world. <P><EM>This post was written by Office Apps &amp; Services MVP<SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN><A href="#" target="_self" rel="noopener noreferrer">Peter Rising</A><SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN>as a part of our Humans of IT Guest blogger series. This is a follow up from <A href="" target="_self">Peter's first post</A> in November 2020&nbsp;</EM><EM>about the challenges of working from home during Covid-19 times whilst raising a son with severe autism.&nbsp; Almost one year on, life remains extremely challenging, but in different ways.&nbsp;</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>In early 2020, the world changed as the global pandemic disrupted all our lives. In the months that followed, many of us adjusted to working from home, and supporting our children with home learning. This was a massive shock to the system, but what I did not realise at the time was that this would be the easy part for me and my family. <BR /><BR />As a quick recap, I live in the UK with my wife Louise, and our two sons George (14), and Oliver (11). Oliver was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of two and a half, and as he has grown older we have seen sensory processing disorder, extreme anxiety and pathological demand avoidance added to the list of challenges he faces on a daily basis.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Screenshot 2021-09-12 at 20.29.17.png" style="width: 452px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="Screenshot 2021-09-12 at 20.29.17.png" alt="Screenshot 2021-09-12 at 20.29.17.png" /></span></P> <P><EM>Oliver and me</EM><BR /><BR />Before the pandemic devastated the world, Oliver attended a Specialist Educational Needs (SEN) school, and was picked up and returned home each day by the school bus. I don't believe he ever really enjoyed attending school though, as even back then we had some difficulties in that he refused all food during the school day and would also not visit the school toilets. Looking back at those times, I think that Oliver merely 'tolerated' school, but it is clear that having to attend caused him distress.<BR /><BR />This became ever more apparent when schools started to re-open again in late 2020 and children started to return. To begin with, we were quite hopeful, as Oliver boarded the school bus on the first day back with no real problems. Things began to change very rapidly though and Oliver started refusing to get on the bus and the more we tried to encourage him, the more distressed he would become. <BR /><BR />So we tried driving Oliver to school instead. This looked like it may work until we took him into the school building and he refused to go with the teacher, so we ended up taking him back home with us. Slowly but surely, the mere mention of school made Oliver more anxious. What didn't help matters was that on the few occasions we succeeded in getting him to attend, the pattern was disrupted when a teacher or classmate inevitably tested positive for Covid-19, resulting in the entire class needing to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days. Routine and pattern is essential in Oliver's life, and this unpredictability did not help our cause one bit.<BR /><BR />By the time 2020 came to a close, I think Oliver may have attended school for approximately 10 days in total since it reopened before we got to the point that he stopped attending completely. At this time, both the education and social authorities agreed with us that there was little point in persisting with trying to get Oliver to attend school whilst the requirement to self isolate was still in place as it meant that consistency was almost impossible.<BR /><BR />As we started the new year of 2021, we became accustomed to Oliver staying at home. This was arguably hardest on our oldest son George who was now the only person leaving the house on a regular basis to attend school. I was still working exclusively from home myself. George, to his credit has shown incredible maturity beyond his 14 years throughout these difficult times - particularly as Oliver staying away from school has led to many other stresses and anxieties in our house.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>For many months earlier in the year, we established a pattern of Oliver visiting Louise's parents who live very close to us. He only went for a short time each day between 3.00pm and 6.00pm but this was extremely helpful to us as it provided us (Louise especially) with some respite. Oliver has become particularly attached to his Mother over the past year - almost to the point of obsession, and he always likes to know where she is. <BR /><BR />This extreme attachment to Louise has only been exacerbated by two escalating anxiety triggers which Oliver has developed during this time. The first trigger is barking dogs. There are a lot of dogs living on our street and when they bark (which is frequent), Oliver becomes hugely distressed and will scream. If the barking does not subside quickly, Oliver will run through the house to find Louise and will start hitting her repeatedly. This is utterly horrifying as you can imagine. It contradicts entirely his special bond with Louise, but illustrates that he does not understand how to appropriately process and express his emotions. This behaviour is still a problem as I write this. <BR /><BR />The second trigger is bad weather. Oliver seems to sense bad weather before it happens. He will appear in the living room and demand that the curtains are closed and the lights turned on (regardless of the time of day). we then have to play calming music at high volume. This can go on for quite some time, even if the weather has improved. It will only end on Oliver's terms. Ironically, the bad whether stops the barking dogs issue, but when the sunshine returns, the dogs come out again. It feels like we just can't catch a break.<BR /><BR />To add to the problems, back in July Oliver stopped going to his grandparents. We have no idea why but now we are effectively housebound. Oliver becomes distressed if Louise tries to leave the house for any reason. I am not so restricted but the only time I really go anywhere is to take George to school as I don't want Louise to be left alone with Oliver for any length of time.<BR /><BR />When you write all of this down and read it back, it sounds ridiculous and unbelievable, and you do start to question if you have been good enough parents. Fortunately we did receive some validation recently as child mental health services and a clinical nurse started visiting Oliver every day recently. They were confident that they could challenge Oliver's rigidity, but they too have found that Oliver is not going to be an easy code to crack.&nbsp; They attempted to get him to attend his new school last week, and on the first day they managed to get him there for a few hours.&nbsp; He clearly did not realise where he was going though, as the following day when they attempted this again he refused their attempts to get him ready and into the car.<BR /><BR />Despite all this, we still manage to get things done. I manage to do my work, have teams meetings, record a podcast, and write blogs like this one. Louise manages to enjoy her crafting which includes knitting and crochet, and she has recently rediscovered a passion for water colour painting. These activities are often interrupted of course and things take a lot longer than they normally would as a result. In the extreme, I have had to abandon an important work call to respond to a violent episode from Oliver when a dog barks.<BR /><BR />I have to be honest and say that I never imagined that life could be this hard, and I don't know how on earth we are going to work our way out of this situation. The services that are working with us to support us and trying to de-sensitise Oliver to his anxieties are now regrouping and thinking of new strategies, but it feels like while the rest of the world has started to do normal everyday things again, we have never actually come out of lockdown. <BR /><BR />We remain upbeat though throughout it all, and our families always kindly remark how incredible it is that we still have a smile on our faces considering the stressful life we live. That gives me so much strength, especially on the days where I'm running on empty and feel like I have nothing more to give. <BR /><BR />I have to keep the faith that there is an answer to this situation, and the support and friendship I receive from this community helps me stay strong more than you can know.<BR /><BR />Thanks for reading, I hope I can update you in the not too distant future with some good progress. Keep your fingers crossed for us!!<BR /><BR />Take care and stay safe!<BR />Peter</P> Thu, 30 Sep 2021 17:21:08 GMT PeterRising 2021-09-30T17:21:08Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Hybrid Work Lessons Learned <P><EM>This blog was written by Microsoft General Manager, Wangui McKelvey, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. Check out some lessons she's learned as a newcomer to Microsoft during the pandemic.</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I joined Microsoft in February 2021 which was just about a year into the global pandemic.&nbsp; Like most places, we were 100% working from home with no real sense of when normalcy would return.&nbsp; Since I had spent the last year working remote with my previous employer, I thought it would be easy enough to roll into this new gig remotely as well.&nbsp; On the one hand it was a seamless transition.&nbsp; I had my home office setup working, had figured out how to manage my kids’ virtual school schedule and I was trying to figure out whether I loved or hated getting my groceries delivered.&nbsp; On the other hand, it was harder than I thought.&nbsp; I took for granted how much I knew and understood at my previous employer.&nbsp; If I got stuck, I knew who to call or where to look to get help.&nbsp; I knew I had a stellar support network that I could tap into if I needed advice, someone to bounce ideas off or simply a safe space to vent if I was having a bad day.&nbsp; I didn’t realize how much I relied on this work village until I no longer had it.&nbsp; The good news is I can create a new work village here and still tap into my existing village whenever I need it.&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="WanguiMcKelvey1sqr_2021.jpg" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="WanguiMcKelvey1sqr_2021.jpg" alt="WanguiMcKelvey1sqr_2021.jpg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>So, I thought I would share 5 things I’ve learned so far about navigating a new company in this new hybrid world:</P> <OL> <LI>You must make time to have human connections with your new co-workers.&nbsp; While this sounds simple, it takes time and effort to do.&nbsp; For me this meant getting to know my team and co-workers.&nbsp; Asking about their home life, their hobbies and then sharing personal stories about what I am up to.&nbsp; It can be as little as a 5 min intro or outro to a meeting.&nbsp; It’s amazing what doors open when you ask, how are you doing? How’s your family?</LI> <LI>Get clear on the business objectives you are expected to impact and what success looks like.&nbsp; This can evolve and change over time but it’s important to get clear on what the goals are and key results you are expected to deliver.&nbsp; Write them down and share them with your boss to make sure what you heard translates to what you understand.</LI> <LI>Meet and network with stakeholders outside of your direct reporting line.&nbsp; I have learned so much by getting to know people that work in different functions that intersect with the work I’m doing with my team.&nbsp; Hearing other perspectives will help you in the learning curve as you ramp up in your role.</LI> <LI>Ask lots of questions, it really is your superpower.&nbsp; One of the beautiful things about being new is you know nothing&nbsp;<img class="lia-deferred-image lia-image-emoji" src="" alt=":smile:" title=":smile:" />. Embrace that and ask away!&nbsp; Most of the time, you are not the only one thinking it and not the only one who will benefit from the answers given.</LI> <LI>As soon as it’s reasonably possible, make the time to meet your team in person.&nbsp; I truly believe having a great working relationship starts with human connection which only gets better when you can be in person.&nbsp; For me that meant taking a work trip to Seattle where part of my trip included a fun outdoor lunch meeting with my team. I will plan to do something like this a few times a year to help with the human connection I need to be successful in this role.</LI> </OL> <P>Lastly, I have learned I have so much more to learn.&nbsp; I just have to be open to the journey.&nbsp; So that is what I’ll do.&nbsp; Be open, be curious and keep learning</P> Wed, 29 Sep 2021 15:55:52 GMT wmckelvey 2021-09-29T15:55:52Z [Amplifying Black Voices] From the locker room to the boardroom <P>My name is Pierre Darden, and I’m a Communications Marketing Manager at Microsoft. I am a dynamic, life-long learner and results-driven Brand Ambassador for Microsoft, and my community. One of the things I’m most proud of is being a mentor for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. I’m also an ex pro athlete.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>My journey to Microsoft was definitely a path less traveled. Some of the humblest beginnings make for the best stories.</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Me n p 505 (2).JPG" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="Me n p 505 (2).JPG" alt="Me n p 505 (2).JPG" /></span></P> <P>I grew up in the inner city, it was a bit rough. Developing in that environment, I learned the value of transparency, honesty, and communication. My younger years were also the moment in time where I developed my love for technology. My computer class in school was the only time I would be able to operate a PC. It was like an escape for me, a completely different world outside of the rough streets of Cincinnati, Ohio. Unfortunately, in my environment it wasn’t “cool” to be smart and love to go to class or be interested in anything like computers. This was a stark reality for me leaving middle school.</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="PXL_20210805_163153981-2.jpg" style="width: 200px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="PXL_20210805_163153981-2.jpg" alt="PXL_20210805_163153981-2.jpg" /></span><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="PXL_20210805_163259282.jpg" style="width: 150px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="PXL_20210805_163259282.jpg" alt="PXL_20210805_163259282.jpg" /></span><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="319754_3453844979278_1127275277_n.jpg" style="width: 145px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="319754_3453844979278_1127275277_n.jpg" alt="319754_3453844979278_1127275277_n.jpg" /></span><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="149521_1571788129033_3822478_n.jpg" style="width: 133px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="149521_1571788129033_3822478_n.jpg" alt="149521_1571788129033_3822478_n.jpg" /></span></P> <P>My freshmen year at Withrow high school in Cincinnati, Ohio I had an encounter that changed my life and drives my passion for mentorship to this very day. I met my high school coach. I was a 6 foot 4 freshmen with no plans for the future after high school. Coach George Jackson saw me and asked if I could come to basketball practice after school. Turns out I was pretty good at basketball. Coach Jackson then spoke about college getting paid for, SAT scores and ACT scores and the NCAA clearing house. To sum it all up, I was given an opportunity with new information, and I decided to take advantage of it. It was now “cool” again to do well in school and formulate a plan for college.</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Basketball in Mexcio.jpg" style="width: 200px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="Basketball in Mexcio.jpg" alt="Basketball in Mexcio.jpg" /></span><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Signing autographs.jpg" style="width: 200px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="Signing autographs.jpg" alt="Signing autographs.jpg" /></span><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Dunking.jpg" style="width: 200px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="Dunking.jpg" alt="Dunking.jpg" /></span></P> <P>I received a full ride to Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, I then transferred to University of the Cumberlands. It was in college where I found out not only did I have a love for tech I also had a love for Communication. After graduating I was able to play basketball in the minor leagues in the USA and also in Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, and China. However, being an athlete has a short shelf life. I was blessed to have had great experiences being cultured and learning new languages and culture.</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="_D3A2826.jpg" style="width: 200px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="_D3A2826.jpg" alt="_D3A2826.jpg" /></span><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="V__7DFB.jpg" style="width: 142px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="V__7DFB.jpg" alt="V__7DFB.jpg" /></span><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="V__6F52.jpg" style="width: 150px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="V__6F52.jpg" alt="V__6F52.jpg" /></span></P> <P>During the off season, while I was training to sign to another season of basketball, I had another chance encounter. Microsoft was holding a open house, as they were opening a store in Cleveland, Ohio. I applied and was able to take my team management skills, and my work ethic from basketball and applied myself to learning any and everything I could about Microsoft and the direction of technology. Educating myself and gaining certs along the way. I got my start in Microsoft corporate and applied those same team building skills and my drive to push myself to be the best when I took the opportunity to join the SMC sells team in Fargo, ND. When a spot on the marketing team down in Texas presented itself, I took it and that where I am today.</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Microsoft two.jpg" style="width: 200px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="Microsoft two.jpg" alt="Microsoft two.jpg" /></span></P> <P>I’ve been at Microsoft now for 8 years, I’m in my desired org with many goals yet to reach. I love my story. I love sharing my story. I believe it stresses the importance of not being a victim of circumstance, and the importance of proper mentorship. I also hope my story inspires culture exposure and breaks down bias and stereotypes. Which is the reason volunteering my time to troubled young men from my community is so important to me. I know before I was introduced to more options outside of my known world, I was probably on the wrong path. The only way to repay the debt is to pay it forward and live my life accordingly.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>That’s my Microsoft story, it’s a great company and I’m looking forward to writing the next chapters.</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Nice suit.jpg" style="width: 153px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="Nice suit.jpg" alt="Nice suit.jpg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> Wed, 01 Sep 2021 18:09:31 GMT Pierre_Darden 2021-09-01T18:09:31Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Applying a Growth Mindset at Microsoft <P><EM><SPAN class="TextRun Highlight SCXW188450302 BCX8" data-contrast="none"><SPAN class="NormalTextRun SCXW188450302 BCX8">This blog was written by Microsoft Program Manager, Osborn Adu, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. Osborn walks us through</SPAN></SPAN>&nbsp;how to apply a growth mindset to your work.</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Growing up in Ghana, I was enthused about computers and technology but never owned one till I got to University. My primary school had only one computer, and even though my high school, St Augustine's College (some high schools are called colleges in Ghana) had a few more computers, they weren't enough for over 1,500 students. However, the lack of computers did not quell my interest but rather galvanized me to co-found a technology company and to pursue a career in tech.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="This is me with classmates from high school. Circa 2004" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="Augusco.jpg" alt="This is me with classmates from high school. Circa 2004" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">This is me with classmates from high school. Circa 2004</span></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><SPAN style="font-family: inherit;">I joined Microsoft after completing my MBA at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Joining an iconic company with such global impact and presence is a dream come true. </SPAN><SPAN style="font-family: inherit;">I was so elated after I receiving my Microsoft offer that it was all I would talk about with my friends. I'm sure, it was quite annoying, but my dream for working at this iconic company with a big global impact was now realized.&nbsp;</SPAN></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>It's now been over a year since I joined, and boy, it has been an experience. There've been highs and lows, good days and not so good days. However, my north star has been to apply a growth mindset to my job. After reading about the growth mindset from Satya Nadella's book "Hit Refresh",&nbsp; the concept resonated deeply with me. I had been applying those principles for most of my life without realizing it. See,&nbsp;<SPAN>I was very timid for most of my childhood, and after a moment of truth of not being able to speak to a girl I really liked at a party, I strived to leave my comfort zone. Since then, I have been on a path of self-improvement through exploring new interests and activities.&nbsp;</SPAN><SPAN style="font-family: inherit;">According to Professor Dolly Chugh, Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at New York University, "A growth mindset allows us to think of ourselves as a work-in-progress rather than premade good people, and to confront bias on both an individual and systemic level".</SPAN></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>At Microsoft, my approach has been the same, I do not consider myself as a know-it-all but as a learn-it-all. Considering the vast amount of organizational, role-based information, and skills needed to excel in my role, a growth mindset is critical to the job.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Here are some ways I apply the principles:</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <UL> <LI><STRONG>Challenging yourself and not fearing failure:</STRONG>&nbsp;At work, I don't shy away from nebulous and challenging tasks. Instead, I embrace and see them as an opportunity for me to learn. I do not worry about the outcome, but solely focus on the process that leads to the outcome. If the outcome is successful then there's a lot of positive aspects of the process that I can reuse. If not, I think through what I could have done differently and take note of it. Approaching life this way means every outcome is a win since I get to learn something new either ways.</LI> </UL> <P>&nbsp;</P> <UL> <LI><STRONG>Consistently asking for feedback:</STRONG>&nbsp;I ask for feedback from everyone I work with. My manager, colleagues that I work with on a daily basis, and even those that I get to work with temporarily. I always want to hear others' opinion on how I can improve. However, asking for feedback is not enough. It's about how you process and learn from the feedback. There was a time a colleague mentioned that I should be speaking up a lot more, becasue she believed I had a lot of experience and ideas to contribute to the team.&nbsp; She was right. I was quite overwhelmed in the beginning; trying to process all that was happening around me was too much and I felt inadequate to speak up. However, not speaking up doesn't make the best professional impression. After hearing her feedback, I devised a plan to prepare well in advance of meetings and to create talking points I can refer to. I have significantly improved in speaking up and sharing my ideas with my teammates.</LI> </UL> <P>&nbsp;</P> <UL> <LI><STRONG>Learning from everyone:</STRONG>&nbsp;I have made a point to speak to someone within the organization each week regardless of role or title. Doing the math, I'll roughly speak to 52 people each year and will learn about their careers, their challenges, their hacks, and their lives. Each week, I get to hear amazing stories and learn new things from colleagues and friends at Microsoft. There are so many amazing and wonderful people that work here and I am exceedingly proud to be part of the organization. Connecting and learning from others is something I relish. Anytime I find someone doing something interesting, I reach out to them and ask for time on their calendar to learn more about their work. This has expanded my network and also provided me with great insight into the organization.</LI> </UL> <P>&nbsp;</P> <UL> <LI><STRONG>Always learning and reading:</STRONG>&nbsp;My team has a dedicated learning day each month, however, I also make sure to reserve at least 30 minutes each day to learn something new. Each day, I review a course of interest or read materials that can help me in my work. This daily habit has helped me a lot. I have augmented my knowledge on business, on Microsoft products, on working efficiently with others, on being productive, and many more. One of my favorite resources to learn new things is LinkedIn Learning. The amount of content on any business topic you can think of in LinkedIn Learn is mind-blowing. My goal is to take and learn as many courses as I can for free. Plus, I get to add all I learn to my LinkedIn profile, which is so cool.</LI> </UL> <P>&nbsp;</P> <UL> <LI><STRONG>Becoming comfortable with ignorance:</STRONG>&nbsp;As the famous poet and author Maya Angelou once said, "Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.". Developing empathy, leaving your comfort zone, and asking questions to learn are some ways to deal with ignorance. There've been countless times that I have had no idea about a topic and scared to death to ask questions. However, I try to muster courage to ask about things I do not know. It can sometimes be uncomfortable, nevertheless, asking questions to learn is very important to having a growth mindset.</LI> </UL> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="me at Microsoft.jpg" style="width: 300px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="me at Microsoft.jpg" alt="me at Microsoft.jpg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Coming from Ghana, I am genuinely happy and excited to be part of such an amazing organization. Through applying growth mindset principles, I am looking forward to contributing and driving impact globally with Microsoft.</P> Wed, 08 Sep 2021 20:14:29 GMT osbornadu 2021-09-08T20:14:29Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Lending Privilege and Reaching Back <P><EM>This blog was written by April Speight, Sr. Cloud Advocate - Spatial Computing, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series.</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="speight_hl2_02-small.png" style="width: 499px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="speight_hl2_02-small.png" alt="speight_hl2_02-small.png" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>When I came into this industry, I had just wrapped up my stint in luxury fashion and wasn’t sure how I’d be able to get my foot in the door without technical experience on paper. I came into tech at a time where university credentials were more of a hard requirement for employment rather than finding opportunities that relied more on experience instead of whether you completed a degree. Although I had degrees, neither were tech specific. I went to school for international business for my bachelor’s and luxury &amp; fashion management for my masters. Needless to say, the closest I got to using technology in my degree programs were to either use accounting software or anything within the Adobe Creative Suite.</P> <P><BR />I hadn’t paid much attention initially to the lack of diversity in the industry. My very first team was very diverse and therefore I blindly believed that all teams would be as such. When I left for the next step in my tech career, it became apparent that my little IT team bubble was an anomaly rather than the norm. I had an interview that ended badly for a role that I had really hoped to receive. I felt that the interviewer could sense my ‘lack of sameness’ for his team and that he did all he could within his power to ask questions and gaslight me for not staying in a role which paid far below the market average with no real chance in career progression. That was a wake-up call and eye-opener to what this industry truly had to offer as a minority who didn’t ‘look’ the part.</P> <P><BR />However, I never changed who I was on the outside nor inside. There’s nothing that I could’ve done about the color of my skin. And I also couldn’t change my prior career decisions. The best that I could do was keep myself on a path to grow and hopefully land with a team and manager that provided a positive and supportive environment.</P> <P><BR />I finally got that a few years ago. And since then, I’ve been more careful in choosing where I interview. However, is it fair for minorities to have some sort of a ‘Greenbook’ when it comes to navigating tech communities?</P> <P><BR />Where I’ve been fortunate is to have met people along the way with much more privilege than myself to help me connect with key individuals in this industry and to invite me into rooms I could have never found the door to had I tried on my own. When I came to Microsoft, I felt as though I had <EM>finally</EM> made it in my professional career.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="April is standing in front of the Microsoft sign on her first day at Microsoft." style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="6B5C6425-948F-4170-B20A-6E9D81F58472.jpg" alt="April is standing in front of the Microsoft sign on her first day at Microsoft." /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">April is standing in front of the Microsoft sign on her first day at Microsoft.</span></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I had a decent role, a decent income, and a place where I felt that I could grow. However, 1 year into my role, I got that itch to switch career paths and try out a new area of technology. When I decided to pursue extended reality (XR), I was like a newborn baby stepping into uncharted territories. I knew very little but one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to work in this field. The moment I reached out to the developer community for help on how to get started, I was flooded with assistance from so many people who didn’t look like me. I had even received 2 complimentary devices from two different companies early on to help me learn (which is pretty HUGE given that hardware is relatively expensive for working with other realities).</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="April is holding a HoloLens (1st Edition), one of the first two devices she received." style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="4020BF1B-8FBC-4294-8746-969F6234C0DE 1.JPG" alt="April is holding a HoloLens (1st Edition), one of the first two devices she received." /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">April is holding a HoloLens (1st Edition), one of the first two devices she received.</span></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>To have experienced that much support from the first day I opened my mouth to ask for help has never been taken for granted. Now that I’m on the path to success in this tech area, I do as much as I can to help minorities who are also interested. We cannot move forward in tech if we’re left behind. I want to be a part of those in the community doing all they can to help change that. Fortunately, that plays a big role in my work this year for my job at Microsoft.</P> <P><BR />We all have privilege of some sort which we can lend to others. It’s not always about race. However, for many minorities in this industry, it often does come down to race whether it be intentional or unintentional due to inherent bias. If you’re reflecting on your own career and come to the realization that you have privilege that you could lend to others, please do so. The tiniest bit of help can go a long way in this industry. You’d be surprised at how far some of us can go if at least one person helps plant the seed.</P> Wed, 18 Aug 2021 20:42:08 GMT April_Speight 2021-08-18T20:42:08Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Microsoft as a Platform <P><EM>This blog was written by Bobby Akinboro, M365 Program Manager, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series.</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I remember my first "internship" at Microsoft. Actually, I remember my first job as a<EM> vendor</EM>&nbsp;at Microsoft. May 2014 marked the end of my junior year in college, and I was hired as a SWE <EM>vendor</EM> because the internship program was full. At the time, I was unaware of any vast differences between FTE and V- designations, so my excitement knew no limits. This changed shortly upon my arrival to the main campus.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="IMG_3466.JPG" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="IMG_3466.JPG" alt="IMG_3466.JPG" /></span></P> <P>As happy as I was to be at Microsoft, I quickly was met with barriers due to the color of my badge. I missed out on FTE specific events, different speakers that were invited to campus, and probably the most upsetting to my 21-year-old self, I missed out on the intern concert and gift. I can recall watching all of my friends get on the bus to go enjoy a night with David Blaine, while I walked back to my hotel. Although that night was disappointing to say the least, it was a pivotal point that I consider the change catalyst for my mentality towards my entire career.&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>The following week, I heard Satya speak during 'One Week' and the majority of his message was centered around the necessity to not just be an employee of Microsoft, but also, to use Microsoft as a platform to further your personal passions. That was exactly what I needed to hear.&nbsp;I realized two things during that keynote, first, I knew I needed to experience Microsoft in full and earn a blue badge and second, I needed Microsoft to <EM>experience me</EM> in full - beyond the the characteristics that got me the badge.&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Screen_Shot_2020-10-05_at_11.51.58_AM.png" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="Screen_Shot_2020-10-05_at_11.51.58_AM.png" alt="Screen_Shot_2020-10-05_at_11.51.58_AM.png" /></span></P> <P>After hard work and a successful interview, I came back the following summer as as blue badge intern. One out of my two goals had been checked off and I was determined to accomplish the other. To be honest, I struggled trying to find ways to express that I was more than an employee, which made the challenge of turning Microsoft into a platform to further my passions even more difficult. Nearly two years passed by before that goal came to fruition, and it happened in the most unexpected of ways.&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I had picked up a side-hobby of DJing once I moved to Seattle and it was one of my favorite things to do. I started off with small events around the city, which began to pick up steam. It didn't take long for my colleagues to recognize that Bobby at work was also DJ BLAST in real life. Before I could even grasp the momentum I was experiencing, I was asked to DJ Microsoft's intern day concert. <EM><STRONG>This was the same event that I was denied entry to two years prior, now I was the headlining DJ</STRONG></EM>. I'll never forget the feeling of DJing for a sea of Interns, and seeing Pitbull take over the stage that we both shared. Interestingly enough, that single event is what propelled my DJing career and enabled me to travel all over the continent doing shows. Microsoft was no longer just my employer, it became my platform that was furthering my passion.&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Often times, when we are challenged to do more at work we immediately think of going back to school or learning a new skill. I challenge you to think outside of the box; think outside of your job. This exact mindset is how I am able to truly be a proud employee that brings my full authentic self to work. How can you make Microsoft <EM><STRONG>YOUR</STRONG></EM> platform?</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="image0.jpeg" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="image0.jpeg" alt="image0.jpeg" /></span></P> Wed, 18 Aug 2021 20:26:29 GMT boaki 2021-08-18T20:26:29Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Why Leave a “Profession”? <P>There’s a specific day that occurred in 2016 that I will never be able to forget. On this day, I had a unique conversation with my parents that, looking back, may not have been too unique for a first generational African family given the circumstances. My dad called me on the phone, frantic, with my mom already merged into the call. It was around 4pm and I still had a lot of workday left, given my typical 13+ hour workday. “Hey, what’s going on dad,” I asked. “Your mom and I are very concerned about your future and the decisions that you’re making,” he responded. Now, you can insert any confused face emoji [here] and that wouldn’t do justice to my reactionary facial expression that was on full display at my office. Ignoring the fact that, I just let them know that I was planning to my secure and stable job to go back to school. Me? Your high school valedictorian, civil engineer college graduate from one of the best engineering programs in the nation son, you’re concerned about me? My father continued “Why would you want to leave civil engineering to get a MBA? Being an engineer is a profession. What is business?”</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Being a Nigerian American, this line of questioning made sense. I was already in the holy trinity of professions (doctor, lawyer, or engineer) but I had to do what made sense to me. When I looked around at my boss, at the time, and his boss, and his boss’s boss. I wasn’t quite sure that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. But I also wasn’t sure that this alternative plan was the answer as well. I decided that the only way to find out was to give something else a try and despite my parents’ opinions and “concerns’ I needed to do this on my own terms. With that, I started on a nine-month journey. Within that time, I took the Professional Engineering exam, gained my engineering professional license in Louisiana and Texas, took the GMAT, visited several business schools, and got accepted into another top national program, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>While at Michigan, I leveraged this time to learn by doing. I had three goals to help guide my career decisions. I wanted to gain insights in the technology, operations, and real estate fields and I was able to check all my boxes by working on projects with the Related Companies, Ford, and Amazon. Through this, I found a passion in the intersection of technology and strategy/operations.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>This led me to Microsoft, where I started in a role, new to me, within a fairly new organization called the Customer Success Unit. My peers were people who had been with the company or in tech for several years. However, during this time I didn’t experience what many do in this situation. The foreboding “imposter syndrome” was nowhere in sight. I had already been in this space before, lived in it, and made it to the other side. Whether it is be being one of the few who looked like me in my engineering classes at a PWI (<SPAN>Predominately White Institution)</SPAN>, to learning to basics of real estate, to building business plans for an automotive company, to understanding the different processes in fulfillment for a major distributor…I belonged. I took this with me to Microsoft. I knew that I could excel in anything. I just needed to figure out how I could. I took some advice from my manager to spend time learning and some advice from my skip manager to get my hands dirty and do things. I spent the first year sitting in meetings or setting meetings in my spare time to learn. I also started taking on projects that needed a shepherd. The first year was definitely a fire hydrant through a straw situation but it gave me everything I needed to start discovering what I liked doing and what I didn’t like doing. In the second year, I was able to home in on what I liked and what would be a good direction for my career. I was able to give up some projects and focus on the ones that I really was interested in. I became a SME and program owner for a premier tool and process. My peers with years of experience were asking me, a recent career switcher, for my expert opinion on how to solve complex problems that would help thousands of people around the world. I was just where I needed to be.</P> <P>And on a side note, my father no longer questioned the decision that I made back in 2016. He was able to see the success that I have gained in my new career. These days, instead of introducing me to his friends as his son who used to be an engineer, he happily stated that “this is my son, and he works for Microsoft,” convincing me that: 1) he still proud; and 2) he probably still has now clue what I do or what “business” is.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I would like to end this a with a few tips that worked for me and I hope would be of some benefit to others:</P> <UL> <LI>Let others tell you “no”. Don’t take yourself out of the game, even if it is outside your comfort zone. Decide on what you want to do and go for it. Go for that opportunity.</LI> <LI>Some things aren’t impossible, you just haven’t figured out the plan yet. Many times, the ultimate solution isn’t one big groundbreaking solve but several small wins instead.</LI> <LI>Leverage your village. Why start from the bottom when you could start halfway? Ask for help. Get advice. Talk through your opinions and strategy. Perspectives and opinions can be a value add. Soak them in. Evaluate them and then decide what YOU think is best for the situation.</LI> </UL> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-right" image-alt="Blog shot.jpg" style="width: 267px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="Blog shot.jpg" alt="Blog shot.jpg" /></span></P> Fri, 06 Aug 2021 17:13:19 GMT kosieokafor 2021-08-06T17:13:19Z [Amplifying Black Voices] The Impact of Representation <P><EM>This blog was written by Denzell Turner, Product Marketing Manager, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. Denzell details the impact representation has played in his journey to Tech.<SPAN>&nbsp;</SPAN></EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>The idea of representation never really crossed my mind growing up. I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan which is the Blackest city in America, and attended predominately Black schools. At this stage of life, I never really felt unheard, unseen, or misunderstood. It wasn’t until college when I realized how different the world was outside of Detroit. My college journey took me about 45 minutes west of my hometown to The University of Michigan in the much smaller city of Ann Arbor. Go Blue!!! Little did I know, I was in for a culture shock. Before being accepted into Michigan, I had multiple opportunities to visit the campus and get a feel for college life. However, these visits were with programs that catered towards Black prospective students so I was still in my cocoon of thinking my experience would be like high school with people who looked, dressed, walked, and talked like me. What I found was the complete opposite. So much so, that I could go weeks and count on one hand how many other Black students I saw on campus. But the feeling of underrepresentation didn’t hit home until my junior year when I was sitting in a communication studies class and we discussed the burden of representation theory. The theory states that for any marginalized group, there is pressure on an individual to represent the entire group. I left this class feeling enlightened about the topic but also distraught because I now understood why I was having a hard time fitting into spaces where I was the minority. Upon graduation, I took my first job in corporate America where the feeling of not belonging would be amplified.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Since I was a kid, I wanted to be in business. I thought it was so cool to have a briefcase (do people even use these anymore??), a computer, and a mobile phone to do “work”. So you could understand my excitement when I started my first “real” job out of undergrad working in automotive. But this would be another tricky space for me to navigate as I was not only young compared to my peers but also one of few Black people in the office. A sense of belonging didn’t come until I met the VP of Diversity and Inclusion who was a Black man from Detroit. He soon became a mentor to me and seeing how he carried himself in a leadership position having a similar upbringing inspired me because I did not have many examples of this growing up or in my career field.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="ADF94868-7336-453F-BB4B-9F8E7717CFEB_1_105_c.jpeg" style="width: 874px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="ADF94868-7336-453F-BB4B-9F8E7717CFEB_1_105_c.jpeg" alt="ADF94868-7336-453F-BB4B-9F8E7717CFEB_1_105_c.jpeg" /></span></P> <P><EM>Kindergarten Graduation circa 1996</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I always had a love for communication and media arts, at one point I even wanted to be a radio or tv personality! However, through my undergraduate and corporate experience, I found a new purpose for this passion through marketing. I wanted to utilize marketing to amplify positive narratives about minorities to highlight underrepresented communities. With this purpose in mind, I sought a career change by pursuing a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). During my MBA program, I had the opportunity to represent the University of Miami (Go Canes!) in a case competition at Howard University. It was there when I had my first real interaction with Microsoft. I met and interviewed with a Black woman who was a marketing professional with the company for years. I must admit my interpretation of Microsoft employees at that time was white men with ivy league level educations; which did not exactly connect to my identity. However, I was relieved to meet a younger, Black woman who was a leader in the company and enthused about her work. From that interaction forward, I knew Microsoft was a target destination for me because not only could I find a career, but I could also find a place of belonging.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="B86259C9-C05B-44D3-A453-526978BFAFD4_1_105_c.jpeg" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="B86259C9-C05B-44D3-A453-526978BFAFD4_1_105_c.jpeg" alt="B86259C9-C05B-44D3-A453-526978BFAFD4_1_105_c.jpeg" /></span></P> <P><EM>Me with my classmates/teammates&nbsp;at the Howard University Case Competition</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>After countless assignments, projects, applications, and interviews I completed my MBA degree and started my career at Microsoft. And even though I was fresh out of school, starting work in a pandemic, and a minority, I felt welcomed and included in this new space. For me, my recognition of the importance of representation and inclusion started considerably late in life. Therefore, I take every opportunity to work with the next generation of talent who come from underrepresented spaces because one interaction can go a long way. Joining Microsoft turned out to be a great fit because this is where I feel our interests are aligned in empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. In my short time here, I’ve been able to develop stories of how the company has been able to impact lives in communities similar to where I’m from. No organization has it completely figured out when it comes to minority representation and social impact, but I am glad to be at a company that is diligent at figuring it out.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="B93DDA97-9101-48B5-8061-070381F6ED2A_1_105_c.jpeg" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="B93DDA97-9101-48B5-8061-070381F6ED2A_1_105_c.jpeg" alt="B93DDA97-9101-48B5-8061-070381F6ED2A_1_105_c.jpeg" /></span></P> <P><EM>After a long day of interviews, I finally got my picture at the Microsoft headquarters</EM></P> Wed, 04 Aug 2021 16:00:00 GMT denzellturner 2021-08-04T16:00:00Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Coming Full Circle <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="SkylarDunn_2-1626972360607.jpeg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="SkylarDunn_2-1626972360607.jpeg" alt="SkylarDunn_2-1626972360607.jpeg" /></span></P> <P><EM>This blog was written by Britt Hunter, HR Program Manager, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. Britt details a&nbsp;timeline of events that prove the importance of human connection, inspiration &amp; determination.<SPAN style="font-family: inherit;">&nbsp;</SPAN></EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I believe my story will best be told in the form of a timeline of events, so here goes:</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>April 2009: </STRONG>As a recent graduate of my first masters program at UConn, I decide (in a 24-hour period) that it would be best if I took the GMAT and attend business school. My rationale was simple…I didn’t know what else to do and I figured a 3rd degree would solve my problem...</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>May 2009:</STRONG> I show up to said GMAT exam after exactly 4 weeks of “studying”. After being very confused by what I was seeing on the computer screen, I ask to use the bathroom, and proceed to the exit and walk to my car. It was apparent that I was not prepared for this scary exam and I decide that maybe business school is out of reach since the GMAT wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but also there was no way I was going to be able to learn whatever that was I just saw on the screen.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>June 2011</STRONG> at the age of 25, this young lady from Columbus, Ohio took on the role: “Dean of Students” at a charter school in Harlem, NY. I signed up for working with colorful families, their rambunctious children and a very diligent teaching staff. I have one-million stories that this post cannot contain; some of them hilarious, some maddening and a few evoke tears of both joy and sadness.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>2011-2017: </STRONG>I am teaching 4th grade and enjoying every bit of it…except for the standardized testing. In the world of public school education, good test scores keep school doors open. As a result children from the age of 8-17 are subject to teaching that revolves around test -prep. The angst of my student was emanating off their bodies. Their stress became stress and I empathized with them. Every day we had test prep or a practice test I was brought back to <STRONG>May 2009</STRONG> where standardized testing made me feel lesser than and highly incapable of achieving anything. But then something magical happens!</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>June 2017:</STRONG> After 5 months of test prep, <STRONG>100%</STRONG> of my 4th grade students pass both New York State Language Arts and Math exams. This seems small but I'll provide a quick rundown of the makeup of my class: I have 4th graders reading on a 2nd grade reading level, I have students with learning disabilities, students who were repeating the 4th grade, students who are living in homeless shelters, students with incarcerated parents, students living with cousins or grandparents etc etc etc... It’s not so much that all of them passed their exams but more that ALL of them had different life circumstances and still overcame the odds. I was so inspired by their ability to achieve that I decided to take the GMAT again…5 times in fact...until someone took a chance on me...</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>June 2018: </STRONG>&nbsp;I begin my MBA journey at Vanderbilt University, 1 of 6 black students in my entire class of 180 students</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>June 2020: </STRONG>COVID-19 takes over the WORLD…but I complete my MBA at Vanderbilt University!!</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>July 2020:</STRONG> I begin my first year at Microsoft as an HR Professional and the words “Imposter Syndrome” are floating around. For about 2 weeks I felt Imposter Syndrome creeping in, but remembered where I came from, my journey, my students journey. I recall the pump up speeches I gave my students before big exams...I think back to one family who woke up at 4:00 am just to make it on the Staten Island ferry on time to come all the way to Harlem for school...I even recollect the facetime videos my students would have with their parents when they finally made to the correct reading level...Then I relax and say "I got this".</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>June 2021:</STRONG></P> <P>Something unique happens that educators can appreciate. The first set of students that I met at the age of 8 were now 18, graduating high school and getting full scholarships to college. It's an image I was never able to visualize until it happened. I knew at some point all of my formers students would graduate high school and go to college but it was also a "dream" that myself, their parents and former teachers had crafted almost out of desperation...</P> <UL> <LI>I had the opportunity to walk for graduation. Not only do I return for the in-person event but I am also awarded the Igor Ansoff Award for being an inspirational member of the community and adding a diverse perspective.</LI> <LI>My first class of 3rd graders graduate high school. Not only do they graduate but they are going to the top schools in the country: Carnegie Melon, Northeastern, Boston University, UConn, Clark University…the list goes on</LI> </UL> <P>The over 10+ year journey is just a snippet of my life but an important one because it taught me a lot about my own resilience and the power of inspiration. I will continue to excel not because I have something to prove to myself but because I need to continue to show my former students that this journey we are on is worth it.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Britt Hunter- Vanderbilt University MBA c/o 2020" style="width: 150px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="IMG_1499.jpg" alt="Britt Hunter- Vanderbilt University MBA c/o 2020" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">Britt Hunter- Vanderbilt University MBA c/o 2020</span></span>&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;<span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Amanda &quot;Chezzy&quot; Sanchez- Middlebury College c/o 2025" style="width: 111px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="IMG_3168.jpg" alt="Amanda &quot;Chezzy&quot; Sanchez- Middlebury College c/o 2025" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">Amanda "Chezzy" Sanchez- Middlebury College c/o 2025</span></span>&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;<span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Chloe &quot;Chlo Chlo&quot; Betrand- UConn c/o 2025" style="width: 138px;"><img src=";px=200" role="button" title="lp_image.jpg" alt="Chloe &quot;Chlo Chlo&quot; Betrand- UConn c/o 2025" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">Chloe "Chlo Chlo" Betrand- UConn c/o 2025</span></span>&nbsp;&nbsp;</P> Thu, 22 Jul 2021 17:53:58 GMT BrittHunter 2021-07-22T17:53:58Z [Amplifying Black Voices] What’s Your Good News? Juneteenth and the Power of Accessible Information <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Banner.jpg" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="Banner.jpg" alt="Banner.jpg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><EM>This blog was written by Loretta Richardson, Marketing Communications&nbsp;Manager, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. Loretta details the power of accessible information as it relates to the life changing historical context of Juneteenth and her personal&nbsp;journey into Tech.</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation or Jubilee Day, commemorates the emancipation of American black slaves – Yay! However, what gives many people pause is the fact that slaves in Texas, which was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery, were not informed of their freedom until June 19<SUP>th</SUP> 1865, 2-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation!!! I know, you are shaking your head along with me. Enslavers purposefully withheld information from their slaves until after harvest season. Not our proudest piece of American history. But while this information frustrates some and many may overlook, it fuels me. <STRONG>This is proof that access to information can unleash freedom and empower lives.</STRONG></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I came to the tech world from a non-traditional background. I was an artist who simply loved to story tell. Storytelling, through performance and writing, gave me the power to encourage empathy through character building, shift perspectives through knowledge sharing and shape culture by fostering awareness. It is this love for storytelling that led me to being a Marketing Communications Manager at Microsoft. I believe in the power of effective, honest communication. Sure, over time, my storytelling shifted from teleplays to data visualization and marketing profiles, but the overarching theme is that equipping individuals with knowledge helps them make impactful decisions for themselves, their families and communities.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="LorettaRichardson_0-1626457157994.jpeg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="LorettaRichardson_0-1626457157994.jpeg" alt="LorettaRichardson_0-1626457157994.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Throughout my life, I received two key pieces of advice that altered the trajectory of my life:</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>1) “You should apply to A Better Chance.”</P> <P>This was the advice my 8<SUP>th</SUP> grade middle school teacher, Ms. Elliott, whispered to me as she slipped an application to A Better Chance on my desk. A Better Chance is a non-profit dedicated to helping young, talented scholars attend high-ranked secondary schools. I was one of three students given the opportunity to apply. Of the three, only two of us applied and I was the only student placed at top tier secondary school in California.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>2) “You should apply to the Consortium.”</P> <P>My family friend, mentor and now MBA sister, Nicole Nicholas referred me to the Consortium, an organization that connects some of the country’s brightest students to leading MBA programs and Fortune 500 companies. Upon applying, I accepted admission to Georgetown University where I received my MBA and certificate in Consumer Analytics and Insights and you guessed it…where I also recruited for Microsoft!</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="LorettaRichardson_1-1626457158183.jpeg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="LorettaRichardson_1-1626457158183.jpeg" alt="LorettaRichardson_1-1626457158183.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>These two pieces of information opened my world. I am forever grateful to Ms. Elliott and Nicole Nicholas for sharing their “good news,” and increasing my access to educational opportunities. Yes, I admit, I’m no different from my middle school peers or other MBA candidates. The only difference is that I was gifted this precious information. When you pause to think about all of the opportunities missed by others, talent lost, potential unrealized due to inaccessible information, it’s disheartening. It even spans beyond education equality and into financial literacy, preventative healthcare, affirmative litigation – the list goes on. But this is precisely why I LOVE marketing and why I choose to spend my marketing career at Microsoft.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Microsoft and I share the same goal, “to empower every person and every organization […] to achieve more.” At Microsoft, we marketers believe it is our responsibility to practice inclusive marketing and ensure that our products, services and related information are accessible to all. Every workday, I get to creatively think about how we can foster knowledge sharing and increase understanding to ultimately empower our sellers, marketers, and exceed our customer’s expectations. But it spans beyond my professional life. I make it a priority to reinvest in the communities that supported my growth. This is why I mentor Consortium fellows, volunteer with Microsoft’s HR department to support DEI initiatives as well as co-chair the Microsoft BAM BSIX Graduate Committee. I enjoy sharing any “good news” that will empower individuals to take advantage of every opportunity available to them.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="LorettaRichardson_2-1626457159301.png" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="LorettaRichardson_2-1626457159301.png" alt="LorettaRichardson_2-1626457159301.png" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>Hence why I challenge you to share your “good news” and help promote knowledge sharing, to ensure no one in our communities fall behind.</STRONG> Here are four of my go-to tips:</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>1) Network</P> <P>Create a list of individuals you would like to keep in contact with and set-up a cadence (e.g. 3-months, 6-months) to stay in touch. This should be a mixture of 3 groups:</P> <P class="lia-indent-padding-left-30px">a. Inner Circle (e.g. friends, relatives, peers)</P> <P class="lia-indent-padding-left-30px">b. Professional Circle (e.g. sponsors, mentors, former and present colleagues/classmates)</P> <P class="lia-indent-padding-left-30px">c. Mentees &amp; Reverse Mentors (just as others poured into you, you should pour into others)</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>2) Reinvest</P> <P>Dedicate time and resources to the causes, programs and people who shared “good news” with you. If you happen to be a pioneer and discovered “good news” that has yet to be shared, communicate it out and begin building a pipeline that will allow others to follow in your footsteps.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>3) Read Critically</P> <P>Before you share any information, let’s make sure the news is “good.” In other words - accurate, honest and verifiable. No more #fakenews, please! So unless your “good news” is stemming from personal experience, be mindful of the content you are sharing. I always ask myself these 3 questions when reviewing content:</P> <P class="lia-indent-padding-left-30px">a. Who wrote it?</P> <P class="lia-indent-padding-left-30px">b. Why did they write it?</P> <P class="lia-indent-padding-left-30px">c. Who’s missing from the story?</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>4. Share Your Good News</P> <P>It takes courage, but sing it loud and proud! What were your keys to success? Also, be sure to recognize those who inspired that “good news.”</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>One of my favorite things about story telling is listening to the stories of others. You come to learn that while there is no "easy" road to achieving...well anything, we are all blessed and masters in our own right. One could be a master of resilience and joy just as much as they can master coding or golf! Every person on the planet has a unique story and valuable experience that could impact the lives of others. YOUR story is overflowing with “good news” that can help bridge the gap for someone and grant them access to information that can empower them to live out their full potential and change their lives. In the spirit of Juneteenth, I ask you, “What’s your good news?”</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <TABLE style="border-style: hidden; width: 100%;" border="1" width="100%"> <TBODY> <TR> <TD width="28.211716341212743%" class="lia-align-left"><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="LorettaRichardson_3-1626457159320.jpeg" style="width: 247px;"><img src="" width="247" height="157" role="button" title="LorettaRichardson_3-1626457159320.jpeg" alt="LorettaRichardson_3-1626457159320.jpeg" /></span></TD> <TD width="71.78828365878726%"> <P><EM>“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, ‘I’m possible.’”&nbsp;</EM></P> <P><EM>- Audrey Hepburn</EM></P> </TD> </TR> </TBODY> </TABLE> <TABLE style="border-style: hidden; width: 47.016978171351035%;" border="1" width="47.016978171351035%"> <TBODY> <TR> <TD width="100%" class="lia-align-center"> <P>&nbsp;</P> </TD> </TR> </TBODY> </TABLE> <P>&nbsp;</P> Mon, 19 Jul 2021 21:38:01 GMT LorettaRichardson 2021-07-19T21:38:01Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Language is everything <P><EM><SPAN class="TextRun Highlight SCXW168700322 BCX8" data-contrast="none"><SPAN class="NormalTextRun SCXW168700322 BCX8">This blog was written by Microsoft Software Engineer, Dolapo Martins, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. Dolapo takes us through her journey as a Black linguist and computer scientist.</SPAN></SPAN></EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Yoruba, English, French, Spanish, Ancient Greek, Latin. All languages I have learned in some capacity, all tied to rich cultures that have influenced the world in myriad ways. Born in Nigeria to a Yoruba family living in Prince George’s County, Maryland, <STRONG>I recognized early on how critical language is to individuals, cultures, and the world at large</STRONG>. After all, it is one of the core ways by which we identify a people.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>From the Scholastic Book fair in grade school to my studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, I have steadily forged a path shaped by my passion for language, both natural and artificial. I transitioned from self-studying Egyptian, Norse, and Greco-Roman mythology in high school to <A href="#" target="_self">studying</A> Computer Science (B.Sc), Linguistics (B.A.), and Classical Languages and Literature (B.A.) and now a Master’s in Computational Linguistics. This shaped my career trajectory in profound ways. While computing and linguistics combine well, I found that studying languages such as Ancient Greek and Latin were more interesting to the recruiters and executives I met at conferences.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>Languages impacts every aspect of our daily life – it is how we can so richly communicate!</STRONG> Understanding the mechanisms of language acquisition, as well as the syntax and grammar of languages that influenced so many others was a surprising attractor. As a software engineer, being able to quickly pick up a new language is critical and the skills I gained in learning two influential languages increased my ability to be language agnostic in computing.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Language is also core to my interactions with others, Black or not. In my tech internships, I paid attention not only to the language used around and toward me as a Black female software engineer, but also to the language I used. There is something about being the <EM>first</EM> at a company, even as an intern; it impacts everything. When considering my full-time offers, I knew that using language authentic to myself (not code-switching) was particularly important to me and I wanted to underscore that there is no such thing as “correct English”. My training as a linguist made me cringe at myself for code-switching. I was tired of seeing different dialects of English being devalued and assessments made on someone’s technical prowess just because they spoke “differently”. This extended not only to people like me, who can and do speak AAVE, but to others with different accents or speech impediments.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>When I joined Microsoft, I joined largely because I saw myself in my management chain and felt I could be myself, whomever I was, unencumbered. I love seeing Black people in tech because we get to enrich the tech world and bring our much-needed ways of thinking, being, speaking. Black is not a monolith and the diversity we bring is refreshing.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="headshot.jpg" style="width: 270px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="headshot.jpg" alt="headshot.jpg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>There are few conversations in tech and the corporate world-at-large regarding what has been normalized as “professional” ways of speaking and what is not. Both within and without the Black community, it has been my experience that AAVE is sometimes looked down on as some colloquial, ill-educated, slang version of English<STRONG>. As a Black linguist, let me dispel that notion completely. AAVE is morphologically rich and has its own syntax its own rules.</STRONG></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>In my day to day, I show up as me. As a Black woman, as an engineer, as a linguist, a plant mom, etc. I have been fortunate to have mostly wonderful experiences in tech but too often I notice where gaps exist for supporting and amplifying languages. I think about Hindi being spoken by more people than English, yet large language models perform very poorly in that language. I think about which languages require language packs after a product has been released because making technology accessible in that language was an not possible or an afterthought. I think about how a more connected world has come with an alarming rate of language death and cultural erosion. And I think about how funny it is trying to speak Yoruba to AI companions. Even coding is predicated on use of English terminology!</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><A href="#" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="dmartins_0-1626284360625.png" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="dmartins_0-1626284360625.png" alt="dmartins_0-1626284360625.png" /></span></A></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Working as a software engineer has been quite an experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed being at Microsoft and the problems we solve in every area of our business, though I recognize we have some ways to go. My path here has been linear, but it was built on identifying my passion and sharing it. I always aim to encourage others to pursue <EM>their</EM> passion, to exemplify excellence in my profession, and be authentically me. I would not have it any other way.</P> Thu, 22 Jul 2021 16:51:37 GMT dmartins 2021-07-22T16:51:37Z [Amplifying Black Voices] The Makings of a Futurist <P>Seven schools in seven years. That childhood experience forced me to develop resilience and adaptability in the face of disruption. Even before I learned the term “scenario planning” it was part of my everyday life. As I became familiar with the uncertainty of my present, I found peace in planning for my future. I learned to reframe that uncertainty from adversity to advantage. One could say I’ve spent most of my life preparing for the role I now have at Microsoft.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="IMG_7219.jpg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="IMG_7219.jpg" alt="IMG_7219.jpg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>My name is Desmond Dickerson and I’m a futurist. Some businesses call what I do corporate strategy or innovation strategy. In academic circles this is referred to as strategic foresight. My job title sounds cool, but most folks don’t really know what it means. “Are you a fortune teller?” they ask. I don’t predict the future; I help organizations and individuals envision the future so they can prepare for it. And at my best, I equip them to actively shape the future into their preferred outcomes. I do this through a range of applications and exercises. In summary, I research to gather weak signals about a topic, then use frameworks to understand the how those signals might play out. Finally, I pressure test those assumptions through experimentation, prototyping, and storytelling. Sharing those findings helps establish Microsoft’s credibility as a thought leader in the future of work. While this skillset is useful for problem solving across all industries, it is particularly valuable in settings that contend with disruptive technologies and swiftly developing innovations.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Unfortunately, the niche topic area of futures thinking suffers from the same problems of homogeneity and exclusion as the rest of the tech industry. The pool of futurists advising the most powerful organizations in the world is largely white and male. Considering that these organizations make important decisions for all types of people, this represents a worrisome blind spot. This exclusion manifests even outside the workplace. Science Fiction movies and television shows seldom feature leading Black characters. While this may seem like a trivial matter, consider how many technological advancements took direct influence from media:</P> <UL> <LI>Videophones in <EM>2001: A Space Odyssey</EM> inspired the videoconferencing technology like Skype or Teams that we all use today.</LI> <LI><EM>The Robots of Dawn</EM> introduced the idea of Artificial Intelligence to control robots.</LI> <LI>Flying cars under development at Boeing and other manufacturers were first imagined in <EM>Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep</EM>.</LI> </UL> <P>These books illustrate the importance of fictional inspiration for futuristic advancements but also reveal the lack of diverse representation in such works. A future with increasingly complex problems requires a diverse set of contributors working on solutions.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="desmond at conference.png" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="desmond at conference.png" alt="desmond at conference.png" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>As one of the few Black voices in the futures thinking space, I take particular pride in the work I do and in evangelizing the study of the topic more broadly within underrepresented communities. There is a certain agency that comes with this work. Determining your own path forward (whether individually or corporately) engenders an ethos of optimism and a sense of empowerment. Microsoft’s emphasis on empowering everyone is a big part of why I enjoy being here so much. So, in the spirit of carrying out that mission, I’d like to share a few tools YOU can use to practice strategic foresight in your day-to-day life.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><STRONG>Signal Scanning</STRONG>: a signal is a small or local object or occurrence that provides insight that sheds light on the future. Scanning entails looking across the landscape of your industry or livelihood to identify and catalogue signals. When grouped together, these signals constitute trends and driving forces. Signal Scanning helps you anticipate the winds of change before they topple over the status quo.</P> <P><STRONG>Scenario Planning</STRONG>: an exercise in which practitioners devise plausible future scenarios to pressure test their strategies or readiness for change. In your personal life, this approach helps you to map out how you will respond to occurrences that could happen to you. As a business leader, you can use this exercise to assess how your business landscape might be altered by the introduction of a disruptive technology or shifting public preferences. Scenario Planning should be grounded in some reality and influenced by the trends uncovered through Signal Scanning.</P> <P><STRONG>Design Fiction</STRONG>: a practice of creating artifacts that represent tools for future scenarios. The object is to create something real enough that people can have meaningful conversations about it. This could include speculative job postings for roles that don’t yet exist or an instructional manual for a futuristic product like a flying car.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><EM><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="C38BACD3-CAF9-4041-AB37-0ECCB470DA80 - Copy (2).jpg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="C38BACD3-CAF9-4041-AB37-0ECCB470DA80 - Copy (2).jpg" alt="C38BACD3-CAF9-4041-AB37-0ECCB470DA80 - Copy (2).jpg" /></span></EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Futurists use these tools and more every day to navigate disruptions and make strategic bets about the future. My hope is that this post and my work more broadly both help to democratize futures thinking to a wider audience of practitioners. While I’ve applied the techniques of strategic foresight to a career in tech, others find it useful in policy making, the non-profit sector, healthcare, and the many other disciplines that require us to think critically about how our present actions shape the future. Fortunately, more diverse futurist voices are emerging. Sharp thinkers like Julian Bleecker, Sinead Bovell, and NK Jemisin have all empowered me to further hone my abilities as a futurist. Their work inspires me to remain radically optimistic about the future. And I’m heartened by the fact that my work doesn’t just end with marketing our products, but that I get to contribute to making the future of work a more thoughtful and equitable place for all people.</P> Fri, 09 Jul 2021 18:24:14 GMT DesmondDickerson 2021-07-09T18:24:14Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Lifting as you climb: The Art of Evolution <P>Every day when I wake up, I feel gratitude because<STRONG>&nbsp;I am able to lift as I climb and inspire others</STRONG>.&nbsp;Growing up in the small rural community of Georgetown, South Carolina I learned that nothing in life comes easy and to get things done, hard work, integrity, and focus would be critical. I knew leaving my hometown to attend North Carolina A&amp;T State University was the biggest opportunity for me to change the narrative for not only myself, but for my family. If not me, then who? This was my chance to show the world who I am and what I could be capable of.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="alwieczo_0-1625689250037.jpeg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="alwieczo_0-1625689250037.jpeg" alt="alwieczo_0-1625689250037.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>While attending North Carolina A&amp;T, a Historically Black College &amp; University (HBCU), I was fortunate to be actively involved in student life and leadership starting my freshman and sophomore year. I was the official student ambassador, elected as the 8th Mister North Carolina A&amp;T, representing over 11,000 students my senior year. During this year, I had the opportunity to meet with President Barack Obama and lead a community forum with Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. My HBCU equipped and exposed me to opportunities that prepared me for the real world and for my upcoming journey at Microsoft.&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="IMG_3072.jpg" style="width: 656px;"><img src="" width="656" height="648" role="button" title="IMG_3072.jpg" alt="IMG_3072.jpg" /></span></P> <P> </P> <P>Leading up to graduation, I knew how important the next few months of my life would be. It seemed like every upcoming decision had major implications on how my career would begin. As I evaluated my potential employment opportunities, I started to look at the details of what mattered the most to me in terms of career and personal development.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><EM>Career</EM>: I knew I wanted to work for a company whose mission truly stuck with me, created a culture of diversity and inclusion, and would provide me with the support to make an impact outside of my day to day work.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><EM>Personal Development</EM>: I knew I wanted to be in an environment where I could continue to add to my skill set, learn from those around me and build my network to help mold me into a more valuable asset.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>With these things in mind, I took my experiences and perspective to Microsoft.&nbsp;<EM>Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more</EM>. There was just something different about Microsoft's mission statement that motivated me from the day I accepted my offer, this is where I belonged.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>As a first-generation college graduate, earning a B.S. in Industrial &amp;&nbsp;<U>Systems Engineering</U>&nbsp;from North Carolina A&amp;T State University, and working at one of the top tech companies in the world for the past four years is the biggest and most significant accomplishment for me and my family.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="IMG_5500.jpg" style="width: 542px;"><img src="" width="542" height="364" role="button" title="IMG_5500.jpg" alt="IMG_5500.jpg" /></span></P> <P> </P> <P>I started my career the summer of 2017 with Microsoft as a Channel Operations Manager fresh out of college. I remember my first year at Microsoft supporting the&nbsp;<U>Xbox One X</U>&nbsp;launch. The feeling of being a part of something bigger than myself&nbsp;was gratifying and fulfilling. Working tirelessly with my team through tough challenges to release the final product was exhilarating and allowed me to work on a project that had global impact.&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I always hoped that one day I would be able to break generational curses and pave the way to create opportunities for others behind me. I live by the motto&nbsp;<EM>“tough times never last, tough people do.”</EM>&nbsp;Despite your circumstances, with hard work and determination, you can achieve the impossible and exceed expectations. I feel the weight of the world everyday as a young Black male, but I have learned to always focus on the positive and persevere. I’m living proof that is possible to come from an under resourced and under privileged community and reach new heights.&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Currently, I am in my 2<SUP>nd</SUP> role as a Strategic Sourcing Manager II in Microsoft Devices supporting all hardware products. &nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="IMG_2079.jpg" style="width: 539px;"><img src="" width="539" height="719" role="button" title="IMG_2079.jpg" alt="IMG_2079.jpg" /></span></P> <P> </P> <P><STRONG>Let’s lift each other up as we climb and realize our impact.</STRONG></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> Wed, 07 Jul 2021 20:23:12 GMT Jeffron_Smalls 2021-07-07T20:23:12Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Stepping Out of the Metaphorical Box <P><EM>This blog was written by Product Marketing Manager, Power Platform, LaTresha (LC) Howland as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. LC reflects on her experiences as an African-American woman navigating Corporate America and how that has emboldened her passion to advocate for underrepresented minorities&nbsp;and their representation in the technology arena.</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>My name is LaTresha (LC) Howland, and I’m a Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, as well as the Co-Founder and CMO of Breadless. I’m passionate about representation in the technology sector, opportunities in the start-up arena, and all forms of advocacy for underrepresented minorities.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Growing up, my family always told me that I was capable of anything. Whatever it was that I wanted to focus on, I was fully encouraged and provided with the means to do so.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>This is not to say that I grew up wealthy by any means – but I had a wealth of experience, love, support, and esteem that so many young girls from inner-cities are not afforded. For that reason, I have always felt extremely privileged. However, I did not always know how important my upbringing would be in equipping me to face a world as an adult in environments that just seemed to not want me to win.&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Asobiek_0-1625101434241.jpeg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="Asobiek_0-1625101434241.jpeg" alt="Asobiek_0-1625101434241.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>Let me give you some background context. I’m a proud Black woman from Detroit: a city infamous for its music, automotive industry, arts scene, sports, crime, poverty, and socio-economic segregation.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Though I loved my hometown and all its dichotomous elements, I sought to challenge myself and explore a new environment for my undergraduate experience and ventured to Boston University to obtain an advertising degree from the #1 program in the country at the time. I received a merit-based scholarship given my college-preparatory school grades and SAT/ACT scores. Though I had a beautiful experience at BU overall, I cannot count how many times my non-Black peers made assumptions about how I got there:</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>“Wait, you’re not taking that class? They always let Black people skip out on things. Some of us work hard and actually deserve to be here.” (actually, I tested out of them)</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>“Aren’t you from Detroit? I was wondering how you could afford to go here, then I remembered affirmative action.” (which I did not receive, and white women benefit most from affirmative action by the way)</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>This is something that African-Americans are used to experiencing in predominantly white educational institutions (from multiple races and ethnicities, by the way). Luckily for me, being constantly overlooked, minimized, and undervalued molded me into who I am today.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Despite microaggressions from still-in-progress young adults, BU remained a dream come to life and I did everything to maximize my experience there by taking full advantage of all the resources available at my school. I studied abroad in London where I took classes and worked at a marketing agency in Oxford Circus. I joined Adlab, the school’s student-run advertising agency board, and excelled in my collegiate program. I was an athlete and a student leader on campus, and served my&nbsp;community as a member of the first Black Greek sorority: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Asobiek_1-1625101434185.jpeg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="Asobiek_1-1625101434185.jpeg" alt="Asobiek_1-1625101434185.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>When I graduated from BU, I embarked upon my next dream: working in creative marketing in the Big Apple. I absolutely LOVED working in New York City and would not give the experience away for the world. I got to work at ad agencies like Grey, Publicis, 360i, and even brand-side at Verizon. I worked on cool accounts like Darden restaurants, Pernod Ricard, Planned Parenthood, and many more! I built wonderful relationships, refined my marketing skills, and fully embraced the “hustle and bustle” lifestyle. Creative marketing in NYC gave me all the necessary professional and personal life lessons that I needed to truly come into adulthood.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>But, working in Corporate America in general is not a walk in the park for Black women. From Day 1, I was yet again the token Black person in an otherwise non-diverse industry. Most other Black people that I met were not in client-facing roles, and I was often met with the “What program got you into this role” question from my non-Black peers (I simply interviewed after an on-campus recruiting event and got the job).</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Despite my qualifications and instead of acting upon the responsibilities associated with my “Account Executive" title, I was expected to perform administrative duties (although we had an Admin). I had managers that actually told me to not speak in client meetings (which is the direct opposite of what client-facing AE’s should do) and just take notes/agree with whatever the brand team wanted. Not to mention, other AE’s were not subjected to these directives. As such, I did what the job title that I signed an offer for called for and always exceeded expectations with my cross-functional teams and clients on a 1:1. Despite my top performance-based ratings, I received more rolled eyes than recognition or supportive praise from certain managers. It was as if my own team didn’t want me to be successful. I was excluded, not invited to the informal team lunches, and the only one that stayed late hours after my team left at 4:30PM for more exclusive, informal group activities. Good thing I had my own life!</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Asobiek_2-1625101434168.jpeg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="Asobiek_2-1625101434168.jpeg" alt="Asobiek_2-1625101434168.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>Over time, I had to learn to unpack code words that colleagues tried to label me with: “extra”, “opinionated”, “aggressive”. I’m sure that this will sound familiar to all high-performing Black women. As I said before, my family instilled me with confidence and a keen sense of justice versus injustice. So I knew that when I voiced an opinion in a meeting in an assertive tone, I wasn’t doing anything different than my White male peers. When I mentioned the lack of diverse perspectives in a focus group or commercial advertisement, I was trying to help our business, not “playing the Black card”. When I advocated for myself to be promoted or to gain a raise, I was requesting what I deserved based on my performance and work results, not being “greedy” or looking for a “handout”. No matter what my level was, I was not going to be gaslighted or mocked. The tale of majority cultures attempting to put underrepresented minorities and women in a stereotypical box that they felt most comfortable with is as old as time. So, long story short, I simply stepped out of said box and metaphorically graffitied a big “F U” on my way out of each of those experiences. Eat. My. Dust.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>As the years passed, I gained incredible managers and teammates, became comfortable with advocating for myself, and the tables turned. I had the experience and expertise to walk the walk, and tangible success stories for marketing campaigns to reference. I no longer had to send my resume around to be demanded.</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Asobiek_3-1625101434338.jpeg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="Asobiek_3-1625101434338.jpeg" alt="Asobiek_3-1625101434338.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>In the early 2010s as the first wave of “Black Lives Matter” rumbled through the streets of New York City and across the nation, the ground beneath my feet was changing. For the first time for many in Corporate America, when they saw Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and countless others on the TV screen, they were forced to look at themselves. In doing so, the people open to personal growth finally “saw” their effect on the everyday lives of people like me. While I loved that evolution for them, I wasn’t at a point in my own development journey where I could forgive and push my PTSD from repeated prejudices throughout my life to the side. Say what you will about that, but I’m only human. The acceptance that people are fallible and can be changed, even if they were previously perpetuating a systemically racist society, would come later.&nbsp;&nbsp;Instead, I was dealing with my own awakening at the time that was propelling me towards wearing my hair in a natural afro at work when I felt like it, and ultimately exploring opportunities that were FOR me, versus those that I had to fit myself into. As someone with a continuous growth mindset and several years of experience in creative marketing, I began looking for something more. I needed a new work challenge, and a long-term career that I could build a fulfilling life with. I kept my eyes on the tech industry as my next chapter. I followed Satya Nadella’s journey as a CEO, read the 10Ks, and started noticing that tech in general was at least outwardly expressing commitments to evolving their approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion in an otherwise non-Black, male-dominated corporate tech world. In 2018, I thought I’d give it a go and obtain my MBA at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business to dive deeper into the product world and explore entrepreneurship at the same time (because again, I don’t believe in boxes or limits).</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Moving forward, I knew that I had to be explicit and intentional about what I wanted from my post-MBA career. I wasn’t about to repeat experiences from the past, reinvent who I was to fit in, or go to a company that simply did not care about its effect on the rest of the world. Here were my list of demands:</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <OL type="1"> <LI value="1">MUST be a place that takes diversity, equity, and inclusion seriously – not just an external, performative measure to look good in the press</LI> <LI>MUST not only believe in growth mindset, but also invest in its talent in terms of career development, skills-building, people management, higher education, and otherwise</LI> <LI>MUST help me do work that empowers others: building on solutions and products that matter to people in frontline industries, retail, health, small businesses, enterprise, partners, citizen developers, and everything in-between</LI> <LI>MUST be future-oriented: believing in actionable ways to positively influence sustainability policies, tackle climate change, and be thoughtful and responsible about how to help build new and emerging markets</LI> <LI>MUST be a tech firm with exceptional leadership that trickles down to every employee</LI> </OL> <P>In 2020, at the height of the resurgence of “Black Lives Matter” movement where the United States and world were repeatedly traumatized by the endless racist and inhumane acts of law enforcement against Black and Brown bodies, I began my full-time role at Microsoft. I had become too comfortable with the world over the past two years in my immensely progressive and diverse friend group bubble. I was once again forced to reconcile with the reality that in the eyes of many, my life STILL did not matter.</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Asobiek_4-1625101434352.jpeg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="Asobiek_4-1625101434352.jpeg" alt="Asobiek_4-1625101434352.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>This movement was different for me than in years’ past because I was no longer a naïve, young woman unaware of the ways in which I was being tokenized at work or in school environments. This time, I was not about to turn my cheek or let any sly, prejudiced comments, corporate performative allyship, gaslighting, or profiteering from Black pain slide. EVERYONE was going to have to hear my truth whether they liked it or not. I, and many across the world, simply had enough…and there was no turning back.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>In the weeks after my graduation and before starting my first day in the post-MBA OnRamp rotational program at Microsoft, my day-to-day “work” was all activism. I started an IG page as an educational tool housing resources for people that wanted to learn more about systemic racism in the USA. I wrote to podcasts and professional e-newsletter companies urging them to cover the abuse of Black bodies happening around the world when it didn’t seem to be getting much initial attention. I challenged peers at my business school to speak to their families and friends so that these messages of equality and equity were not in an echo chamber and really reached non-Black ears. I pushed myself to the brink calling local politicians and police departments, marching in the streets, raising donations for Black victims to police brutality, and covering footage in social media…all the way up until July 6th, my first day at Microsoft.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I had the pleasure of interning there in 2019, and I accepted the full-time offer because it was a place that met all of my “MUSTs”; yet, I was still nervous about what to expect in such an emotionally heightened, pandemic-stricken, *unprecedented time*.</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Asobiek_5-1625101434271.jpeg" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="Asobiek_5-1625101434271.jpeg" alt="Asobiek_5-1625101434271.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>Would things be the same? My anxieties were high with excitement and fear, but I ultimately had to trust that I made the right decision to begin a lifelong career here. Once the dust settled, one of the first emails I received was about a bookclub series established to highlight the violence against African-Americans. It was a way that Microsoft invested in its own inclusion journey by reading and creating discussions related to racism. There were guidelines on how to conduct these conversations respectfully and inclusively. There was also a range of really great books that employees could expense, some that I had even suggested to peers and corporations including “Just Mercy”, “So You Want to Talk About Race”, “White Fragility”, and “The New Jim Crow”.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Was this a dream? My whole spirit began to exhale. I was finally at a place that cared about what was most important to me. It invested resources to aid in its own journey and empower its employees to do the same. And, it wasn’t just one conversation or topic. I am constantly learning about ways I can lean in, be more inclusive, and educate myself on the plight of others. Everyday, I am I still be in awe at Microsoft’s commitment to DEI, educating its employees and fostering conversations on matters like racial equity, gender equality, LGBTQIA+ pride, mental and physical (dis)ability awareness, and more. At last, I feel like I’m at a place where I can bring my full self to work, enjoy my job, connect meaningfully with my teams, and be encouraged to be successful within Microsoft and outside of it with my personal entrepreneurial endeavors. I am finally welcomed, included, and respected for my perspectives. I have coaches, mentors, and champions across organizations, and I have only been here in a full-time capacity less than a year. My work experience is valued, both figuratively and monetarily. Here, I am more than the sum of my parts.</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Asobiek_6-1625101434336.jpeg" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="Asobiek_6-1625101434336.jpeg" alt="Asobiek_6-1625101434336.jpeg" /></span></P> <P>All this to say, you must go where you’re not boxed in – whether at Microsoft or any other company. I’m not saying that everything will be perfect or honkey-dorey, but as a double-minority, it took me a long time to figure out the work environment I needed to be in to thrive. I’ve finally found it, but this is just the beginning. As I grow in my career, there is much work to be done. I’m responsible for helping to create opportunities for people that are underrepresented. I have to dive deep into my craft, share my voice, and be highly visible. I also feel the need to hold Microsoft accountable, whether that is in its efforts to attract and retain diverse talent, reward said individuals, and/or create meaningful leadership that is representative.&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>This is where the story of my career begins, and I hope I am just one of many voices representing Black womanhood in tech. To those reading today…you are not alone, Sis. We are capable of anything.</P> Thu, 01 Jul 2021 15:16:56 GMT LCHowland 2021-07-01T15:16:56Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Being a Black man of the Trans experience starts with Allyship! <P><EM>This blog was written by Ethan Alexander, Sr Customer Success Account Manager, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. Ethan takes us through intersectionality from his lens... Juneteenth, Father's Day, and Pride.</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>My name is Ethan Alexander, and I am a Black man of the Trans experience. I don’t think people understand how thick your skin must truly be to be your authentic self in the world that we live in today. When I feel the need to use my platform and speak for people who are afraid, I do so by sharing my story in hopes that it will inspire and educate others. I can relate to the fear of being visible... especially given the number of transgender women that are killed simply because of who they are; as a Black man, I’m often a walking target in this country. When I think about being resilient, it’s like being able to be strong enough to say, “I’m going to withstand the storm.” It’s being a tree. A tree can go through whatever—the hurricanes, all of it. If you are rooted, you’re good!</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><LI-VIDEO vid="" align="center" size="large" width="600" height="338" uploading="false" thumbnail="" external="url"></LI-VIDEO></P> Tue, 29 Jun 2021 18:15:29 GMT EthanAlexander 2021-06-29T18:15:29Z [Guest Blog] Hypotheses and High Hopes: How 'empower everyone' can really mean everyone <P><EM>This blog was written by MVP, Paul Culmsee. Paul explains how he came to guide many non IT people into Power Platform experts, and what he has learnt along the way.&nbsp;Paul has a proven track record of developing world-class Power Platform talent through mentorship.</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-inline" image-alt="Hackathonpeeps.jpg" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="Hackathonpeeps.jpg" alt="Hackathonpeeps.jpg" /></span></P> <P>My name is Paul Culmsee and I run a consultancy called Seven Sigma in Perth, Western Australia.</P> <P><BR />I’m starting my story at the time when a startup that I had poured my heart, soul (and cash) into failed. Why it failed doesn’t actually matter, but amongst the pain felt at the time came the learning of some lessons. One in particular that really rearranged my mental molecules was finally understanding what it means to formulate a hypothesis, test it as quick as you can to see if you are right, and adjust if you are not. This principle has served me very well ever since, and as you will see has delivered some awesome outcomes that we never could have predicted.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>So as you read my story, see if you can spot all my hypotheses, and how I tested them.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <H2>“Can this be used for audits?”</H2> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I think it was late 2016 or early 2017 when I built my first simple Power App for capturing lessons learnt on projects and was surprised at how quick and easy it was. I showed it to a team member, a Safety Manager, who took the phone, used the app for a few moments, then asked two questions: 1) “Is PowerApps any good?” and; 2) “Can this be used for audits?”</P> <P><BR />I found it interesting that he had little interest in the problem my app was trying to solve, but quickly connected the concept to one of his business’ own problems. In the past, when introducing tools like SharePoint or Teams, I was used to having to explain the intent and benefits to users.</P> <P><BR />Anyway, at that time, I did not know the answers, so I said, “I honestly don’t know if it’s any good, but would you be willing to fund a few days to build a prototype? Worst case is it sucks, and you can give a real prototype to IT to get done by real developers.”</P> <P><BR />Five days later, the app was delivered and yes, Power Apps seemed good. It was surprisingly easy, and I suggested it could be taught to anyone. They took me up on it which led to conducting what I suspect is the world's first Hackathon-style training session on Power Apps to a group of non-IT users. I taught them how to build their own audit apps. I will never forget the best comment of the day that is the essence of citizen development…</P> <P class="lia-align-center"><BR /><EM>“We are a bunch of electricians, welders and fitters and here we are, building apps!”</EM></P> <P class="lia-align-center">&nbsp;</P> <H2>On daughters and hackathons</H2> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Word spread of that session and in true FOMO style, I ended up doing six more sessions with different teams at that company. I began to suspect Power Apps was going to be mega huge in the future, and it would initially be driven by citizen developers before IT departments would start to notice. I had proven that hackathon training worked at small scale, but that was all members of the same company and teams. What about folks from different organisations with different use-cases?</P> <P><BR />To test this hypothesis, I called up my old friend,&nbsp;Debbie Ireland, in New Zealand, who runs a training company and after a couple of conversations, numbers and dates were set for public Power Apps hackathons in New Zealand. The experiment continued…</P> <P><BR />Around this time, my teenage daughter, <STRONG>Ashlee</STRONG>, was struggling with anxiety and depression, something that had affected her for some time. She has <A href="#" target="_self">already told this story</A>, but the quick version is she agreed to my offer to teach her Power Apps for the same money she was getting in a dead-end job. She learnt it blazingly fast, and early on, when I asked her if she liked it, she answered, “Well, I don’t hate it!” (I took that as a yes!).</P> <P><BR />Ashlee did well with Power Apps – very well. Such was the positive change in her, I asked her to come to New Zealand with me to help run the hackathons. Not only were the sessions all sold out, but we also learnt that hackathon-style training works for diverse groups too. More importantly for me was how it transformed Ashlee. At times, we would swap roles, and she would present. For someone who was too terrified to put her hand up at school, she was now taking centre stage. In fact, when she came home, she designed and ran youth hackathons and I was relegated to the assistant role.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="The world-first Power Platform Youth Hackathon in 2018" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="Ash2.png" alt="The world-first Power Platform Youth Hackathon in 2018" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">The world-first Power Platform Youth Hackathon in 2018</span></span></P> <H2>Early success</H2> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>While all of this was happening, we were proving the power of citizen development at one of our major clients – an internationally known Australian company. What started out as me helping a citizen maker put the finishing touches off an app that managed logistics at a port, led to the IT department taking note, asking me 1) for help to govern the platform; and 2) to prove that citizen development could be the basis for that governance via a mentored and end-to-end project.</P> <P><BR />On the latter challenge, I spent 12 half-day sessions over three months mentoring <STRONG>Ada</STRONG> and <STRONG>Tram</STRONG>, two geoscientists by profession, to build and launch that particular app. It was a success, was enhanced from its scope and as I type these words, is being re-engineered as a whole-of-organisation solution. The success of these type of stories meant that this organisation was one of the earliest to sign an enterprise deal with Microsoft to unlock the broader Power Platform stack.</P> <P><BR />On the governance side, I worked with <STRONG>Nichole</STRONG> – a former Executive Assistant with no formal IT background, who was the inaugural member of the Power Apps team. I mentored her as not only an app maker, but on how to govern, manage and grow the Power Platform. Together, we designed a vision, service model, and guardrails for Power Platform, and she manages it to this day (and is my top coffee buddy).</P> <P><BR />I still work with Nichole and have many fond memories. At the very start, she came in completely green, so not only was she tasked with governance, but inherited some Power Apps work performed by someone else. Talk about diving in the deep end! In our first session I remember her asking me “What is a variable?” Yet, she embraced the learning curve with such grit that within a short time, she had built and deployed various apps, trained users and developed a deep understanding of the whole platform, and how to manage it.</P> <P><BR /><EM>By the way, much of the early work Nichole and I did can now be found in the dashboards of the <A href="#" target="_self">Power Platform Centre of Excellence Starter Kit</A>.</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="One of the many dashboards we developed now in Power Platform CoE Starter Kit" style="width: 400px;"><img src=";px=400" role="button" title="pb-19.png" alt="One of the many dashboards we developed now in Power Platform CoE Starter Kit" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">One of the many dashboards we developed now in Power Platform CoE Starter Kit</span></span></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <H2>The three-month challenge…</H2> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I would be remiss not to mention another Culmsee here – my wife, <STRONG>Terrie</STRONG>. Even before Ashlee started her journey, Terrie could see value and learnt how to build apps as well. A nurse in her early career, Terrie has a lot of other strings to her bow and is a natural when it comes to User Experience and Design-Thinking. In a wonderful feedback loop, her deep working knowledge of Power Apps means she now mentors everyone in our team (including me) to the point that when we design our apps, we always ask each-other “What would Terrie make us change here!”</P> <P><BR />Learning from Terrie, Ashlee, Ada, Tram, Nichole, and by now a very large number of hackathons, I felt we could now take someone with no experience, get them building apps in a week, get them good in a month, and get them really good within three months.</P> <P><BR />To prove this, we took on two trainees at my company – <STRONG>Tahlia</STRONG> and <STRONG>Woong</STRONG>. Both were students who came in with no prior Power Apps experience, and both worked in the Power Platform team at my client with Nichole and myself. They did not just perform app development either. Both had to engage with users directly, envision the solution, learn to estimate well, develop User Experience skills, train users, and learn how to structure projects. Both Tahlia and Woong exceeded our expectations by light-years, remain full-time at my company, and along with Ashlee, are now senior members of our team and highly regarded by clients. I am so proud of them all – they give me the energy to keep going!</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <H2>Onwards and upwards</H2> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I think we have done our bit to prove that citizen development is real, is desirable, and most importantly, does a lot more than teach some app development skills. As you can see by my stories, people have learnt much more than how to open Power Apps studio. They have truly embraced the promise of Digital Transformation.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I semi-jokingly tell people that while Microsoft’s mission is to “Empower everyone”, Seven Sigma’s mission is to “prove that Microsoft is not lying”. So, have we proved all we set out to prove? No! The next step in our plans is to take on more trainees, but have Tahlia, Ashlee and Woong mentor them, to prove that a virtuous cycle of world-class mentoring can be created and sustained.</P> <P><BR />Ten years ago, websites used to cost many thousands of dollars to build and maintain, yet these days hugely rich sites can be built by anyone, using monthly online services at a fraction of that original cost. I believe apps are now on that same trajectory and the opportunity is huge for organisations. The paradigm is changing before our very eyes.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>Whether you agree with my assertion about the future of apps or not, I get disillusioned when I hear people lament about a lack of local skills/talent, but then exacerbate the problem by defaulting to offshore development. It is my sincere hope that more organisations, as they recognise the paradigm of citizen development and low code, give local folks opportunities to shine.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>We, at Seven Sigma, have proven it can be done. What about your company?</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> Fri, 25 Jun 2021 18:50:05 GMT Paul Culmsee 2021-06-25T18:50:05Z [Amplifying Black Voices] Over Time, a Journey Into Tech <P><EM>This blog was written by Microsoft Product Marketing Manager, Joshua West as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. Joshua takes us through his career journey to Microsoft.&nbsp;&nbsp;</EM></P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I used to think my journey into technology started on a late-night while completing a homework assignment for my MBA coursework. Or at least that’s the story I told myself or to others. It would go something like this.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P style="font-weight: 400;"><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="Late night study sessions were common during the first semester" style="width: 737px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="study photo.jpg" alt="Late night study sessions were common during the first semester" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">Late night study sessions were common during the first semester</span></span></P> <P>It was early September in Rochester, NY, a time when the late summer breeze coming over Lake Ontario made you forget the crisp cold air and first snowfall were waiting right around the corner&nbsp;for you like a freight train coming around the bend.</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>I flipped open my&nbsp;Surface laptop and the bright backlight illuminated my already dim bedroom. I started on the assigned business case that we had to&nbsp;read, but the split screen quickly diverted my already short attention span to an article in The Wall Street Journal. The article spoke about how MBA graduates were increasingly moving to post graduation careers in technology rather than traditional paths in finance and consulting. The sector was looking to hire more graduates and offered competitive compensation as well. I was curious so I said, "why not me?"</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="University of Rochester's River Campus in Fall 2019" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="campus in the fall.jpg" alt="University of Rochester's River Campus in Fall 2019" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">University of Rochester's River Campus in Fall 2019</span></span></P> <P>But that’s not where this story begins. It starts on a cold November weekend as the last of the fall foliage whittled away leaving bare trees and piles of leaves awaiting to be picked up by the city sanitation department. The dogs’ ears perked up as the familiar sound of the doorbell caused a flurry of rampant barking as he rushed to the door to investigate our visitor. My dad opened the door to the delivery driver who dropped off a large box with the words “fragile” on top. We opened the box and carefully lifted out a Windows 98 Gateway 2000 PC. My eyes instantly lit up as I stared at the computer. My mom came over and explained how she had looked everywhere for the right computer to order and that it was finally time for our family to have one after her job introduced computers to her workplace two years earlier. We immediately set the machine up and watched the green pasture come to life on the desktop.&nbsp;</P> <P style="font-weight: 400;">&nbsp;</P> <P>That computer became the foundation for learning to type with Mavis Beacon, book reports, photo editors, train simulators, tying up the phone lines with dial-up internet, and so much more. It represented the first step into a technology that would change my life as I knew it. I suppose you could say the rest is history.</P> <P style="font-weight: 400;">&nbsp;</P> <P style="font-weight: 400;"><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="My dad in front of our first computer, a Windows Gateway 2000" style="width: 749px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="dad computer.jpg" alt="My dad in front of our first computer, a Windows Gateway 2000" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">My dad in front of our first computer, a Windows Gateway 2000</span></span></P> <P>Two decades later, I found myself as a Product Marketing Manager MBA summer 2019 intern with the same company that made it its mission to put a PC in every home. What I found was an organization that was truly working to put its culture into practice and was seemingly committed to advancing diversity and inclusion to make all voices heard and welcome.</P> <P style="font-weight: 400;">&nbsp;</P> <P style="font-weight: 400;"><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="With MBA final round internship interviews complete, I could finally take some photos" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="Josh at Microsoft sign.jpg" alt="With MBA final round internship interviews complete, I could finally take some photos" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">With MBA final round internship interviews complete, I could finally take some photos</span></span></P> <P>For me, that truth manifested through an opportunity to co-lead a team discussion around Bryan Stevenson’s book, “Just Mercy” and share perspectives of my personal experience of growing up Black in America. It was a moment of open vulnerability for the team that gave everyone the opportunity to share how their unique personal experiences growing up in America contributed to their beliefs or misbeliefs about others.</P> <P style="font-weight: 400;">&nbsp;</P> <P style="font-weight: 400;"><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="Final presentations for 2019 M&amp;O Summer interns" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="Intern presentations.jpg" alt="Final presentations for 2019 M&amp;O Summer interns" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">Final presentations for 2019 M&amp;O Summer interns</span></span></P> <P>That journey has continued into my full-time experience, having the opportunity to work with two incredible teammates to lead our US Business Applications team through creating a culture of daring leaders who lead with vulnerability and courage through the work of Brene Browns book, “Dare to Lead.”</P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P>But when I think about my journey, I must note that it wasn’t always easy. Starting any new job is difficult but starting a new position remotely during the apex of a global pandemic with the responsibility for marketing a product to an industry I had no prior experience working in, brought with it an entirely separate set of challenges. I struggled with imposter syndrome, wondering if I was truly the person for the role. I doubted that I would get up to speed and truly understand what it meant to be a product marketer and that I could be successful at my job. To put those notions to rest, I continued to talk to friends and mentors, realizing that the more I shared, I was not alone.</P> <P style="font-weight: 400;">&nbsp;</P> <P style="font-weight: 400;"><span class="lia-inline-image-display-wrapper lia-image-align-center" image-alt="Two decades after our first computer, I find myself working for the company that started me on this journey" style="width: 999px;"><img src=";px=999" role="button" title="josh dad computer pic 1.jpg" alt="Two decades after our first computer, I find myself working for the company that started me on this journey" /><span class="lia-inline-image-caption" onclick="event.preventDefault();">Two decades after our first computer, I find myself working for the company that started me on this journey</span></span></P> <P>Within three months, that feeling was gone, and I realized that my job wasn’t to bring that knowledge of an insider, but that of an outsider to provide a new perspective on how we could grow the business. That has helped drive success in the beginning of my career journey with Microsoft. The ability to think differently, provide a new perspective, and incorporate my lived experience into my work are what gives me the ability to empower myself and those around me daily.</P> Wed, 23 Jun 2021 17:38:13 GMT JoshWest 2021-06-23T17:38:13Z