Meet Microsoft’s MBA Class Of 2020: Joshua West

Joshua West

MBA Program: Simon Business School, University of Rochester

MBA Concentration: Marketing and General Management

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Undergraduate School and Major: Northwestern University. Major in Political Science and International Studies

Current Title: Product Marketing Manager

How would you describe your role to your mother? I get buyers ready to buy and sellers ready to sell. I think about the buyer journey and work to understand all the different marketing assets they need to interact with before they decide to make a purchase. Conversely, I think about seller enablement and developing the sales narrative and how to deliver it in the customers’ language.

A fun fact about me people would be surprised to know is…if I did not attend business school, I would probably be a D-list celebrity!

In May of 2018, a few weeks before I was set to travel to Rochester to get moved in for the upcoming school year, I got a phone call. It was a beautiful day, sun shining bright, and birds were chirping gleefully after a long winter rest. I had just stepped out to walk the dog when I got a phone call. The caller ID said, Santa Monica, CA. Normally, I would have declined, but since I was already recruiting for MBA internships, I picked up. To my surprise, it was someone from a casting company. She asked me if I had ever heard of “Married At First Sight.” I told her, what? She went through her entire pitch and description of the show and told me that the upcoming season would be filmed in Philadelphia and if I would like to come down to interview.

I thought it was all a joke, but she sent me more information, text messages, and e-mailed me all the details and information. That evening, I binged watched the entire 1st season. I had a real decision to make. Try my shot at reality TV, or continue with my MBA. Needless to say, I chose the MBA route!

What was your greatest personal or professional accomplishment? Professionally, it was becoming a people manager at Coca-Cola at a young age and being responsible for the premier sales territory in Philadelphia. That opportunity taught me more than any role I’ve had in my career thus far. It enabled me to find what I was passionate about, which was leading people and developing individuals on my team, and helping them reach their goals.

Why did you choose to work at MSFT? The culture and the people were a huge draw. I love the fact that Satya has taken the company through a cultural transformation where we are evaluated partly on how we empowered others around us and enhanced the company’s goals on diversity and inclusion. I also met an incredible group of MBA interns turned incredible friends, who all decided to come back full-time. That, combined with the culture that our leadership team creates, is why I decided to come back. Vulnerability is not seen as a weakness, but as an asset in creating an organization of daring leaders.

What did you love about the business school you attended? When I think about business school and what I loved most, it comes down to two things: the people and the community. Simon is not only one of the best academic institutions to complete your full-time MBA in the country, but also one that boasts a diverse and inclusive community that is going to support you every step of the way. I’ve met friends for life that I keep in contact with daily from anything and everything on our day at work to the latest meme and subreddit blowing up Wall Street. The relatively small class size gave me an opportunity to actually get to know people and to build a unique connection with people. I believe Simon truly is a special place and attending has been one of the best decisions I’ve made, personally and professionally.

What does being a “Microsoftie” mean to you? Honestly, it means being yourself. It means not being afraid to engage in a way that’s uniquely you. It means not worrying about looking cool, but rather how can I make those around me look cool. It means empowerment and empathy, but also vulnerability. It means living the mission and using it as a driving force for your north star.

Which manager or peer has had the biggest impact on you at MSFT and how has he or she made you better in your role? I wish I could name just one, but with a company this big, that’s definitely hard to do! The first person is Jacqui Cuffe-McNamara. Jacqui was my manager as a summer intern and helped me understand where to make the biggest impact, and gave me the opportunity to develop an initiative that became a key tool for seller enablement moving forward. She’s a friend and mentor and someone I can always go to at Microsoft.

The second is Stephen Oommen. Stephen was the first person who called me the day I started Microsoft. Full of energy and wisdom, Stephen was crucial in guiding me along in my first few months at Microsoft. We met every morning to discuss what my agenda was for the day, what I accomplished, and what specifically I was doing to advance the objectives of my stakeholders. Stephen helped me understand the business, and how to strategize early on to make an impact. In a time when it’s hard to figure everything out from a distance over a computer screen, Stephen helped put me on a path to success very early on.

What has Covid-19 taught you about yourself since you started working at MSFT? It’s taught me how to continue to practice resiliency and the importance of taking time out of each day for myself. Work will always be there and will take as much as you give to it. If you want to work 8-10 hours a day or more, you can do that. Still, you need to find time to devote to yourself and your well-being. Productivity in a virtual environment does not need to come in the form of a traditional 8-hour workday. If you find working from 7-10 AM works for you and getting a workout in from 10-12 PM re-energizes you, then do it. If you get the most done between 6-10 PM, do that. Find the hours of the day when you can be most productive and exploit them.


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