What Microsoft Seeks In MBA Hires

Diego Rejtman and Sarah Eytinge

P&Q: What types of onboarding, training and ongoing support do you provide to incoming MBAs?

Sarah: There are two levels of support for our MBA hires. The first comes with the team they join. The hiring manager assigns a mentor, usually auxiliary to the team, so they continue to learn and build out their skill sets. There is a lot of on-the-job tactical training involved. Some larger teams and organizations have additional onboarding programs to help get their hires up to speed in the requirements of the role.

We also have our new Microsoft ASPIRE experience. It has been created to empower our university hires to accelerate their impact, engage with a vibrant community, and thrive in business life. It is a two-year onboarding program that is complimentary to the onboarding that their own team does. It is a way to help educate these new hires to the greater Microsoft ecosystem and our strategy and mission. It also fosters connections with individuals throughout the company. The last element is to help prepare them for their next step at Microsoft.

Year 1 involves different sessions on how to manage your manager and effective communications. What does it mean to be customer obsessed in your world? After the first year, all Microsoft ASPIRE experience hires are invited to our Global Sales and Marketing Conference in Las Vegas called Microsoft Ready, which is a huge celebration of Microsoft.

Year 2 really focuses on discovering career possibilities, with sessions on high performance mindset and leadership and there’s a capstone summary to it. A lot of candidates will be familiar with the Microsoft MACH (Microsoft Academy of College Hires) Experience – This is a rebrand, a reimagined MACH experience. It incorporated a lot of the feedback on MACH and really enlarged it to a more holistic view to onboard candidates.

Diego: This is a program overlayed on top of their day jobs. It is a program just for MBAs. This is an investment that Microsoft made on them. It gives them a real advantage.

P&Q: What are your expectations for entry level MBAs? What are your most successful new hires doing to hit the ground running and quickly add value?

Sarah: It is incredibly important that we want people to come in, roll up their sleeves, ask lots of questions, and be curious – and we believe this is going to lead to future success. We don’t expect you to know it all. We want you to come in and find out who you need to connect with or who you might need to influence. We’re a very large company. We’re a flat company and that creates this matrix environment that you need to navigate through. So people who might come in who are more entitled – ‘This is my role and this is what I am supposed to do’ – and are very structured and uncomfortable with ambiguity are going to really struggle here.

Microsoft Chairman John Thompson at a March 7 campus talk at MIT Sloan

Diego: At Microsoft, we have three leadership principles that we subscribe to. The first one is called Create Clarity, taking actions to create clarity in situations. The second is Generate Energy, people who find ways to create positive energy. The third is Deliver Success, the ways we get the job done.

Something particular to MBAs is that there are really two parts of the job. One is to do the job they were hired for. The second part is, at some point, I expect them to take ownership. What does this job mean to you? How will you expand the scope? How will you make it more of your own? The people here who are the happiest are the ones who first master their job and then re-define it.

P&Q: For you personally, what has been so exciting for you to work at Microsoft?

Sarah: Professionally, I’m hiring talent that is going to transform Microsoft. What I tell candidates is that I’m not just excited about that first job I’m hiring you into, but it’s that second or third or fourth job – that long, fruitful career you can have at Microsoft – that excites me. There are so many different ways you can take your career here and so many different ways that you can learn and grow. It’s incredibly exciting for MBAs to come in here. You can start in finance. In three years, you might be excited about the marketing piece and how customers think and you want to transition there. For me, it’s the transitioning military vet who was working in an operations role and has just taken a highly analytical role as a business planner – which is part of our marketing team and involves the planning out the future monetization of products. I’m excited too for the non-profit professional who went to business school who came into the marketing profession and is now a senior technical program manager. She is leading engineers because she learned the skills needed to be on the technical engineering side.

I just love the career path that I provide to candidates. That’s why I love what I do and get really excited about it. It makes it a happy Monday when I come in. How do I find joy at Microsoft? It is definitely the people, knowing you are working with amazing minds with amazing passions. You are never going to be the smartest person in the room. That’s OK because you are going to learn so much from them. I’m sitting next to Diego. He is a trained engineer. He was highly influential in launching Xbox One and Microsoft products together. Throughout the company, it’s amazing what different mindsets and backgrounds are brought together. That’s inspirational. I love that we’re not this standard career path where you work two years – promotion – two years – promotion – straight up and narrow. It really is design your own career and choose your own adventure. Because of that, you get to engage with so many interesting people.

Diego: I love hearing about the impact we have on candidates. I call the recruiters on the team “dream makers” because they’re helping students reach their dream jobs.

I have my guitar here. Let me dedicate some notes for you…That was a live performance from me to you. I am embracing this idea of coming as you are and doing what you love using Microsoft as a platform. My story is that I was born in Argentina and came to America; Microsoft sponsored my immigration to the U.S. I got to work on amazing engineering products including creating the Xbox One with a thousand other colleagues. Then, when I got into my 40s and wanted other students to have the opportunity that I had at Microsoft, the company supported me not only to move into human resources but to lead a whole function of 140 recruiters globally. I don’t have the formal HR education. I am a living example of this mindset that it doesn’t matter so much where the person has been. It matters more where they are going. The reason I played the guitar is because I am a Latino with music running strong in my family. I am now incorporating music into my job. I sing to the MBA candidates in the lobby as they get ready to interview.

I’m not saying Microsoft is easy. Each one of us is creating the Microsoft culture every day. When I chose to play my guitar in an interview with you, I am creating the Microsoft culture. We are all responsible for creating the culture that we want. There is so much freedom and empowerment for employees to own this culture at Microsoft.


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