Meet Microsoft’s MBA Class of 2018

Bufus Outlaw III


MBA Program: University of Miami

MBA Concentration: Finance

Hometown: Moorestown, NJ

Undergraduate School and Major: Morehouse College, Finance

Current Title at Microsoft: Finance Manager

How would you describe your role to your mother? I manage the money details for a couple of Microsoft products and services. This allows my business partners to focus on managing the business. As the Finance Manager, I make sure that we do not exceed our quarterly budget by accurately tracking our costs. Then, at the end of the quarter, I get to spread the good news on how accurate we were to forecast!

A fun fact about me people would be surprised to know is…Every school I’ve attended since kindergarten started with the letter “M” (Meredith Elementary, McGinley Elementary, Memorial Middle, Moorestown High, Morehouse College, Miami and now Microsoft!

What was your greatest personal or professional accomplishment? I’m living it right now.  Believe it or not, five years ago, I envisioned myself working in finance at Microsoft and I wrote out my plan for how I would get here.

The path to my goal started with getting my MBA.  I was working in finance, but I knew that an MBA would enable me to move into even greater levels of responsibility and impact.

Because Microsoft was my goal and they don’t typically come to the University of Miami’s campus, I had to use out-of-the-box thinking and processes to attract the attention of their recruiters and get an interview.  The day I got my offer – it felt surreal because it was a dream coming into reality.

Even though I knew that being at Microsoft would mean uprooting and moving 3,000 miles from a lifetime of east coast living to a “whole new world” on the other side of the country,  I was ready for that challenge as well. Through every milestone and even every seeming obstacle, I saw myself moving closer to my goal.  It has been an amazing experience to watch my plan unfold and come to fruition.

Why did you choose to work at MSFT? Microsoft impressed me the most for having the type of culture that would enable me to learn, make the most of my talents, and take charge of my own career. Microsoft’s culture is “bring your brain”, meaning that the company values your talent and recognizes that talent comes in many different packages. In some companies, things like your dress, who your boss is, how long you’ve been there and what you look like have an impact on whether you are given opportunities to make a difference. At Microsoft, you can’t tell who’s who in the company by these superficial factors. Everyone is talking about the business opportunities that we can create or the problems we need to solve. You have a voice that is heard, and great ideas get accepted and implemented no matter who brings them up.  I really valued seeing that when I interviewed and I value it even more in my experiences here.

Also, I grew up loving Microsoft products….who doesn’t love XBOX!?

What did you love about the business school you attended? One word – beach!

Seriously though, attending the University of Miami was a fantastic experience for many reasons. For one, its smaller size allows for greater teacher-student interaction, support, and relationship-building. Students can also get to know each other well on a personal level. This type of family-like environment while in school naturally fosters a strong alumni network and support system. Also, UM has a beautiful campus and Miami has great weather. By the way, did I mention the beach? (LOL)

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far at MSFT? Trust my instincts, knowledge, and ideas. I’ve learned to focus on sharing what I do know and not worry as much about what I don’t know yet because there will be plenty of opportunities to learn quickly and put that learning to work immediately.

Microsoft empowers me to make a difference to the business and my business partners are counting on me to help them be successful. I would not be able to do that without trusting that I’m the right one to get the job done. I listen for what my business partners need, try to come up with solutions, and then I trust my experience, knowledge, and instincts in making my recommendations. I know I can count on my business partners to give me feedback on those recommendations so that our final decisions for the business will incorporate the best thinking from a lot of really smart people. I believe this is why Microsoft stays at the top of its industry – it’s about great minds focusing collaboratively on common goals.

Which manager or peer has had the biggest impact on you at MSFT and how has he or she made you a better in your role? Chris Greenway, my manager, is a great leader and has made a huge impact on me and my orientation into Microsoft. When I first started, Chris assessed both my strengths and what I most needed to learn. He created a development plan that included responsibilities and projects that would enable me to hone the skills that I needed to better cultivate.

If I’m ever facing a problem, Chris is readily available as a thought partner to help me determine the best next step and how to steer the ship in the right direction.  He is also really good at giving others an opportunity to shine. As a new hire, Chris’ guidance and coaching have been invaluable in helping me to learn how to navigate in this vast organization.

Even though he’s a University of Washington Husky, I forgive him! Go Hurricanes!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work for MSFT? Buckle up and enjoy the ride! There will be lots of opportunities. The organization moves fast and allows you to go at the speed of your capabilities. The culture allows you to make contributions and have impact from the start. You don’t have to wait for someone to give you a chance. Your talent and capabilities create your chance. If you need a lot of rules about what you can and can’t do, then this is not the place for you. At Microsoft, it’s about innovation, an entrepreneurial mindset and a willingness to jump in, learn, and trust your own capabilities. After all, that’s what Microsoft does. Otherwise, they would not invite you to join the team.

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