Eimear Michaels Talks Empowerment

17th October 2022

This week we hear from Eimear Michaels, Senior Operations Manager, International Operations for Microsoft Ireland. Earlier this year, Eimear lifted the WMB Empowering Women Award.  As a mother to three daughters, she says: “Be a good role model, talk to them about the variety of options that are available to them and ultimately support them no matter what they want to do.”

Q: You are Senior Operations Manager, International Operations for Microsoft Ireland.  For our audience, can you give us a bit of background about this global entity.

International Operations is part of Microsoft Business Operations which is responsible for Business Operations organizations across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), including ‘Quote to Consumption’ processes operations, sales operations enablement, revenue transacting, launch implementation of products and services, compliance and protection, and improving core internal cross company transactional processes.

Q: And can you elaborate on your role?

I lead a team of programme managers in the Customer Lifecycle Operations team. We centralise and consolidate various sales services (Sales, Renewals, Pre-Sales Assessments, Cloud Conversions) and deliver them via outsourced managed services. My team makes sure that our partner companies are delivering the Microsoft business in a consistent, compliant and cost-efficient way.

Q: You have been at Microsoft for 17 years.  Did you always want to work in the tech sector?

No! Microsoft was the first large company that I worked for and in many ways, I started working here by accident. I joined on a temporary contract in 2005 while I was job hunting closer to home on the other side of Dublin. I thought I would give it a year as Microsoft would look good on my CV and that was seventeen years ago. I did not leave for one simple reason; I have never been bored.

The opportunities that I have been afforded at Microsoft have been immense as I’ve embraced a growth mindset throughout and have always been open to trying new things.

Q: How would you best describe your leadership style?

Leadership starts with our own growth and continues with a commitment to growing and empowering others. My leadership style is a people first one, leading with care and empathy. I aim to ensure the people around me feel appreciated, empowered, and motivated to do their best work. I value openness and transparency.

I value honesty and integrity, so I try to lead with those values always to the fore.

Q: How did you feel when your name was called out as this year’s recipient of the WMB Empowering Women Award?

I felt incredibly proud that my work has been recognised because it enables me to shine a light on the importance of driving a D&I agenda and on the importance of using your platform to play a role in driving systemic change.

Q: What policies are in place at Microsoft to ensure greater diversity, equity and inclusion?

There are many policies old and new that Microsoft have successfully landed to drive and inclusive culture. One such policy is our D&I Core Priority. Every employee must include at least one D&I priority with objectives and outcomes in their annual priorities, therefore it is embedded into our performance and development approach. We ask employees and managers to learn and practice the skills that increase their own awareness, build empathy, and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Locally we have a very vibrant employee led community in Ireland, investing time making Microsoft Ireland a welcoming and inclusive place to work for everyone.

Q: Microsoft Ireland and Maynooth University have joined forces in a first-of-its-kind collaboration to address digital inequality in education and increase the number of girls engaging in STEM subjects. Can you elaborate?

In Ireland there are striking gender imbalances in STEM subject choices made by boys and girls at the post-primary level. The trend is overwhelmingly for boys to select physical, science and technology subjects, with girls outnumbering boys in biology. When we consider socio-economic status, we see further disparities. Students attending DEIS schools have lower levels of science literacy according to comparisons with the OECD averages.

The STEM Passport for Inclusion programme was created by Dr Katriona O’ Sullivan from Maynooth University with industry partners Microsoft and Accenture in 2021. It aims to change the future of STEM by ensuring that young, working-class women, are STEM prepared. It does this by providing STEM accredited education opportunities and STEM Mentoring to girls across the DEIS school system. It is a wonderful program to be part of as a mentor.

Q: Do you believe that women in positions of power have a duty to throw back down the ladder?

Absolutely and that is why I get involved in initiatives like the STEM Passport Mentoring programme.

We all have experiences to share and advice to give. Equally we have a lot to learn from the younger generation of females in business.

Q: Who supports you in your career and life ambitions?

I have been so fortunate to have fantastic managers and role models in Microsoft who have sponsored and encouraged me to try new things aligning to my goals.

Outside of work, my husband. He made the big decision to take a step back from his career and work part time when we had three children under four years of age. This enabled me to focus on my own career and not worry about childcare restrictions.

Q: What advice would you offer your younger self just starting out?

Be proud of your journey, be proud of where you come from, get out there and network sooner, get involved in as much as you can because this will build your confidence. You have a lot of value to add, so don’t hesitate. Also, be vocal about your aspirations.

A little bit about You

Name three things that you’re passionate about

1. Family and being present with them

2. Travelling specifically sunny places and city breaks

3. Contributing in any way I can to inclusion and equality

If you had a magic wand?… 

A world without violence and inequality

Alternative career choice, no limits? 

An Archaeologist