Having fun and being a great technical professional - at Microsoft (W-Tech)

abstract art in the IET Riverside RoomMicrosoft has fielded the speakers for this session on “Having fun and being a great technical professional”.

In his intro, Andy Gitsham laid out his position: “Work hard, play hard” is too 90s – now it’s all about “Work smart, live smart”… Which seems to be in part about flexibility in working patterns and increased customer focus. Oh, and using Bing as your preferred search engine…

Beatrice Nicoli and Kate Stanton-Davies, two of the company’s premier field engineers then took the stage to explain what their roles are like on a day-to-day basis, as they try to put the PFE mission statement of ‘improving clients’ IT health’ into practice. (Bingo cards out folks: Windows 7, Microsoft Office…)

So what does Kate see as some of the key benefits of working for Microsoft in the PFE area? Working with “talented people who openly share their knowledge and experience”, the opportunity to get involved, and that work/life flexibility referred to by her colleague Andy.

Kate’s personal experience has included 15 years in IT, starting out as the only female support engineer with her first employer – an experience she says she got used to accepting as the norm, but that was never a problem. Until joining Microsoft, though, she did find balancing work with family commitments was sometimes an area of concern, and so spent much of her career as a freelance. However, in her 18 months at Microsoft she says she’s been able to leave this concern behind. In fact in her summing up slide she said it was: “The most family-friendly and flexible IT company I’ve worked for!”

Beatrice picks up on some of the fun you can have in the role – travel throughout Europe, networking, learning from others, bonding events, and finally, a corporate commitment to community and volunteering, with 3 paid volunteer days a year, and various organised volunteering opportunities with partner organisations.

Kate’s own volunteering time was spent with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, helping to deliver training to parents and 5-11 year olds about Internet safety – definitely a worthwhile way to use technical and presentation skills.

Final words from Kate – “we’re not just geeks” despite any perceptions that people may have – “we adore technology, are professionals, and love what we do”.


(PS. Chat in the ladies loos – turns out I’m not the only one who was a *little* disappointed that this session was so Microsoft-centric, having expected something more general and illustrated by Microsoft employees’ stories, rather than just a recruitment presentation – but hey ho, it is largely a recruitment event!) 


Image: Abstract art in the IET’s Riverside Room.

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