MBA Program: Cornell Johnson (Two Year, Full-Time MBA)
**Full name if needed: Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University
MBA Concentration: Digital Technology
Hometown: McCall, Idaho
Undergraduate School and Major: Dartmouth College, Psychology with a Minor in English
Current Title: Territory Channel Manager
How would you describe your role to your mother? Microsoft reaches millions of customers through an extensive Partner network. My group, called One Commercial Partner, is focused on helping Microsoft’s Partner businesses succeed. Specifically, I help our Azure cloud-focused Partners secure the Microsoft resources they need and provide guidance and strategic help on large or complex customer opportunities. I also propose and lead projects that allow my organization to better access and serve growing businesses that are not directly managed by Microsoft.
A fun fact about me people would be surprised to know is… I can’t get enough winter! Growing up, I competed to varying degrees in figure skating, Nordic skiing, downhill skiing, and biathlon – still some of my favorite activities to this day. I love overnight backpacking adventures and my two all-time favorite trips have included wading through thigh-deep snow. The physical challenge, the otherworldly thrill of a winter landscape, the chance to unplug…these are the best antidotes I know to daily screen time.
What was your greatest personal or professional accomplishment? This isn’t a single shining moment, but I’m most proud of my trajectory away from restrictive fear and perfectionism.
In high school, as many people do, I developed this strong (and incorrect) perception that I was innately “good at” certain subjects and “bad at” others. That mentality led me to avoid my challenge areas because I was terrified of failing. It took repeated, intentional “scary choices,” like taking on a quant-heavy leadership role in college, pursuing consulting, asking to be put on global client projects with millions of dollars on the line, and ultimately pausing my career for business school to retrain my brain to embrace risk. Each challenge helped me trust my holistic analytical skills and separate my ego from the pursuit of learning. Now, I don’t see myself as a binary performer, but as someone with a robust tool belt to experiment with whenever things get tough.
Why did you choose to work at MSFT? I knew that I wanted to transition from consulting into tech, seeking longer-term impact and a deeper specialization. Like many MBAs, I started out looking at Product Management roles, but quickly found myself anxious about leaving the “client-facing” aspect of consulting behind, which was something I really loved. When Microsoft reached out about a role in One Commercial Partner, I felt like I hit the job skill match lottery. I interned with OCP and confirmed that the role was the perfect combination of strategy, technical skill, and relationship building I had been seeking. Microsoft heavily emphasizes growth mindset, diversity and inclusion, accessibility, and employee well-being, all of which are extremely important to me. I felt like Microsoft walked the walk, and that combined with a great team and excellent management, sealed the deal.
What did you love about the business school you attended? There were two things most of all. First, the relationships at Johnson are all about depth over breadth. All 280 of my classmates chose to move to Ithaca, weathering storms and steep (but stunning) hills, to be all-in on the experience. From the moment I arrived on campus to interview, I felt a serious level of personal investment between members of the Johnson community, something I still feel as an alumna. Second, Johnson’s role within the massive ecosystem of Cornell positioned us to find and pursue very individualized rabbit holes – experimenting with cutting-edge VR technology in the Computer Science School, for example, was a highlight of my second year and a prime example of the school’s interconnectivity.
What does being a “Microsoftie” mean to you? It means having a “rising tides lift all boats” approach to everything. I strongly believe that when you do everything you can to make sure the people around you are understood, cared for, and empowered to be their best, that energy becomes a flywheel for progress. Microsoft embodies that ethos and I feel that dynamic on my team every day.
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? My direct manager, Terrence Abrahams, is a huge reason I knew I wanted to join Microsoft full-time. He reminds me a lot of the best coaches and teachers I’ve had – prompting intrinsic reflection and transformative improvement by asking concise, targeted questions at the right moments.
He has a background in data and is incredible at “seeing through the noise,” drawing connections between the most intricate processes and their implications on the bigger strategic picture. He has a mindset of continuously finding the pattern, reading the data, and being willing to disrupt the status quo if things can be better. This inspires me to make braver and better choices, to not get attached to any one decision or deliverable if it doesn’t further the ultimate cause. Terrence also really cares about our team’s well-being and makes sure we have support – he’s willing to jump in and help when we need it, and he encourages us to balance intense periods of work with recovery. This approach is something I plan to emulate and pay forward.
What has Covid-19 taught you about yourself since you started working at MSFT? I find purpose and fulfillment in helping businesses access the resources they need to modernize. COVID-19 put a magnifying glass on the need for even the smallest businesses to have an online presence to survive, and if I can help make that transition more accessible, that’s the kind of work I am most proud to be doing.
DON’T MISS: MEET MICROSOFT’S MBA CLASS OF 2020