Transforming Yourself in a Changing World

26th April 2017

Posted In: In Your Opinion

One of the many benefits of working at Microsoft is that we live and work in an environment of constant change and transformation. This is driven in part by the fact that we are early adopters of our own technologies but it is also due to the innovative HR and workplace practices which are designed to inspire, encourage and also challenge you every step of the way.

Words: Christine Barrett, Director of Inside Sales

As a company, we are driving the digital transformation of our customer’s businesses. The level of change happening in the digital environment has been equated to the fourth industrial revolution and Microsoft is at the heart of driving that change. These changes will drive how businesses connect with their consumers, how governments engage with citizens and how we as individuals get to do and achieve more. It is a really exciting time to be working in technology – at the forefront of innovation.

As employees, we at Microsoft are well positioned to deliver that change because we are constantly encouraged and supported to transform ourselves throughout our career journey.

The value of working with the technology sector in general – or certainly with Microsoft specifically – is that you can have many careers while remaining with one employer. If I look at my own career journey, I started with a role in Operations and at the beginning of my career would have thought that the only opportunities for progression were within that field. What my managers, mentors and coaches have helped me to understand over the years is that the skills and experience that I had could be taken and applied to an entirely different area. I was encouraged to come out of my comfort zone, transform myself, and try something new.

This positive environment has given me the opportunity to have a wonderful and varied career. I have moved from Operations, to Customer Service to an EMEA leadership role and most recently, to an exciting opportunity in our newly established Inside Sales organisation.

My ability to transform was enabled by Microsoft’s focus on supporting the individual. I have also benefitted from the commitment that the company makes to Diversity and Inclusion. This focus hasn’t made my journey any easier. In fact, at times, as with many women, I have experienced challenges and issues however, I do know that at every important juncture of my career I have had male and female managers and male and female mentors who have always encouraged me to do more and achieve more. They instilled confidence in me that I was ready for the next move.

Diversity is deeply embedded in Microsoft. My leadership team is reflective of our Irish based employee community – a great diversity of gender, nationality and sexual orientation. It reflects the diversity of the customers that we serve and it is wonderful. The business is stronger – and more successful for it and, I believe, so too are our employees.

While Microsoft has supported and facilitated my career evolution I must take some personal responsibility for my own success.

You can’t just sit and wait for your employer to tell you to go and get new skills; move to a new role; seek a promotion; try out something new. You must take responsibility for your own future. You need to state your ambition to your manager, be confident in your abilities and speak up about them, step outside your comfort zone and stretch into the next role. I have done that repeatedly over the years.

You are responsible for driving your own transformation. Yes, you need to be in an environment that will encourage you and creates opportunities for progression but there won’t be someone by your side leading the way. You should look out for opportunities and have some clear career goals and ambitions. You will benefit hugely from a mentor or coach to help you map this path.

If there is no potential for mentorship with your current employer then I would advise that you look at your network, identify someone you know, or a connection of someone you know and approach them. It is invaluable to have a sounding board, someone who helps you work your way through what can be a chess board of moves and decisions. There are many senior women in the business community today who have benefitted from support and mentorship as they grew in their careers. I believe that, if asked, they will pay it forward and will help to coach and mentor someone who is confident enough to reach out and ask them.

One final word of advice, if you don’t believe that your employer is one that will support and reward your ambition for personal change and constant transformation in your career, then be brave, take a step forward – and out ­­–­ and choose an employer that will. Put your talent to work in a company where you are valued and appreciated and most importantly, where you will have the opportunity to stay fresh and motivated through a continual process of professional transformation.