Meet Microsoft’s MBA Class Of 2020: Michael Salazar

Michael Salazar

MBA Program: Texas A&M University, Mays Business School

MBA Concentration: Entrepreneurship

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Utah: BA, Religious Studies 

Current Title: Business Program Manager

How would you describe your role to your mother? “Data and dashboards.” For some reason, this catchy phrase has stuck in the impressionable mind of my young son, and he is more than willing to share what I do, including with my mother. So, depending on how much I feel like saying on a particular day, I sometimes just leave it at that! However, I have expanded to share that I primarily support the Security Solution Area with ensuring we have the right data, dashboards, and business insights to strategically meet our objectives in this critical space.

A fun fact about me people would be surprised to know is…Despite my willingness to speak at length on topics I find fascinating, I am nevertheless usually known as someone with relatively little to say, and certainly about myself at that. So, any personal fact shared usually shocks those outside of my immediate family.  Not because it is interesting, but rather because I am sharing anything at all. These fun facts might include: enjoying pineapple on my pizza (I still don’t get why this is so polarizing), not having the slightest clue how to navigate any gaming system (there goes my chance of every working in the Xbox group), and my last name of Salazar coming about by the (let’s say…questionable) purchase of identification forms many decades ago when my grandfather was seeking a fresh start in the United States.

What was your greatest personal or professional accomplishment? I would like to think some of my greatest accomplishments are yet to come but convincing my wife to marry me was my greatest accomplishment in any form, and will never be surpassed.

Why did you choose to work at MSFT? When I was young, I did a little research project on Bill Gates and Microsoft. Not because I remember it being required for any particular reason, but because isn’t that what you do when your 9 years old? Maybe that’s just me. From a young age I have been fascinated by success, invention, innovation, and making a global impact for good. These characteristics, to me, speak to the core of Microsoft’s mission “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

I didn’t choose to join Microsoft because of any particular product or person. I have never owned a gaming console and I purchased my first Microsoft PC for business school. And I certainly do not possess any sort of superior technical skills that are worth noting. I chose to work at Microsoft because I am an idealist and a dreamer. I believe in the spirit of what Microsoft as a whole is trying to accomplish as a global corporate citizen, and I suppose I saw it as the next right step for me to possibly play a small role and pursue my fascinations that began as a child of success, invention, innovation, and making a global impact for good.

What did you love about the business school you attended? It seems that most organizations, whether they realize it or not, have a distinct culture. This is no different in a business school. It was this unique culture that I loved most about the Mays Business School. That culture is created and aided by such things as the following: professor accessibility, an honor code, devotion to Aggie traditions, opportunities for selfless service, a highly-engaged former student association, and the integrity of a highly diverse student body from across the globe.

What does being a “Microsoftie” mean to you? I am not sure I received the note that I carry with me the title of “Microsoftie” (surely we have to have some sort of inside track to making this an easily selected drop-down field on LinkedIn!).

In all seriousness, having the opportunity to work at Microsoft is something my family and I are immensely grateful for. To me, it means that I have a great responsibility to approach each day with humility and a growth mindset. Working for one of the most successful, respected, and impactful organizations in the world brings with it some sense of security and excitement.

However, there has always been and continues to be those who may not describe their professional or personal situation as possessing a sense of security. I know something of what this looks like in my personal life: the struggle that comes from the unknown, the hardship, and the inconsistency of success. To me, being a “Microsoftie” means approaching each day with empathy, gratitude, and a determination to be a net positive contributor to the mission of empowering people and organizations to achieve more: professionally, personally, socially, civically, financially, and beyond. (I mentioned I was an idealist right?)

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? One of the consistent themes I hear from others at Microsoft is that the work is interesting and the projects impactful. However, the people are extraordinary!

I have only been at Microsoft for a relatively brief amount of time, but this has certainly held true in my experience thus far. I do not achieve whatever measure of small success I have in my short amount of time at Microsoft without a number of people, peers and managers included, so generally I will say that no one makes impact at Microsoft without being significantly impacted by many along the way.

Having said that, I will point to Desmond Forbes. Desmond was my manager both during my MBA internship at Microsoft and when I returned following completion of my MBA. While many played a role in supporting me and contributing to the opportunity to return, ultimately it was Desmond who gave his approval. For that, my family and I will always be thankful. Besides assisting me with the translation between “American” and “British” phrases, Desmond has been a source of direct, actionable feedback and encouraged me to focus on my strengths and not get too stuck in having a short-term perspective about my work.

What has Covid-19 taught you about yourself since you started working at MSFT?

It has taught me that I am at my best when I have a nice mix of structure and flexibility. For example, I must get in my exercise every morning to feel my best. However, I also need the ability to step away during the workday for a few minutes and go on a walk, read a few pages from a book, or simply have a conversation about Buzz Lightyear with my son. Routine and structure mixed nicely with flexibility and autonomy has helped accelerate my personal learning about how I am able to make the most impact in all areas of my life.


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