Of mentors, karma and, outsider-insider, finding your niche

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Still on Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft who in 2014 at a Conference of Women in Computing.

When asked what advice he had for women seeking a pay raise who are not comfortable asking, Nadella replied,

good karma. It’ll come back. Long-term efficiency solves it.”

Backlash from many angry women at the implied advice to just bide your time.

So was Nadella right? Or its better to put your hands up and negotiate?

Asking for a pay raise may not be the best answer. Nadella was caught by surprise and his answer was not complete. (Don’t listen to what he says, watch what he does /did.)

When I researched deeper into Nadella’s background, he gave what he deemed as actually good advice.

What if you feel the system is rigged against you with bias and exclusion?

My earlier post “How to ask for a pay raise?” Suggests knowing your value and worth.

Competence aside, Nadella’s road to CEO underscored the importance of good collaborative skills and finding mentors.

Nadella found one in Doug Burgum, who became his champion, grooming Nadella to become his successor in the business solutions group. In the Black recounted, “Doug Burgum, who ran Microsoft’s business solutions group and is now governor of North Dakota, became a mentor.”

Burgum groomed Nadella to be his successor. In 2007, at Burgum’s last customer conference at Microsoft, he lavished praise on Nadella in front of an audience of thousands and then handed the keynote off to him. But right after the conference, Ballmer stepped in, reshuffling the staff. He decided that Nadella would be more valuable running a different group, the engineering arm of Windows Live Search, later known as Bing.

Although Bing was an underdog in the search engine world, Nadella honed an outsider perspective at Bing, and led him to his next mentor. Netflix CEO and then-Microsoft board member Reed Hastings invited Nadella to shadow him at Netflix meetings. Nadella did so on and off for about a year.

“Oh, my God, I learned so much,” remembers Nadella. “One of the things I felt was a big handicap for me was, having grown up at Microsoft, I’d never seen any other company.”

His Netflix adventure was shortened when Nadella was given control of Azure, Microsoft’s web-tools division that competes with Amazon Web Services, he leveraged the experience to make a case for his promotion to CEO.

“Netflix pivots very quickly based on new data,” ValueAct’s Morfit recalls Nadella telling him. “He thought that was very interesting compared to the bureaucracy Microsoft had built up.” Morfit, a major investor who had a big say in the Microsoft successor was more inclined in bringing an outsider to the position. Nadella ticked that box, with his Bing, Azure and Netflix experience.

Networking outside of Microsoft helped him gain an “outsider”-“insider” mentality. Breakthrough ideas, research shows, generally come from those at the fringe, not those in the centre.

Perhaps memories of these experiences floated in Nadella’s mind that day in 2014 when he answered that karma and taking a long term perspective into your career journey. Where one day, everything seems to fit together.

Azure, reported in Fast Company, posted 93 per cent revenue growth in the most recent quarter in 2017.

🥕Who would have thought a small step in a non descript technology could be a game changer for your career?
🥕 Are you stuck, like Cinderella, in an insignificant part of your business?
🥕Are you spending time grooming mentors, champions and advocates?
🥕 Do you know your niche?

Nadella is no business martial arts expert like Balmer and Gates. But he knows what he is good at. He is a cloud computing expert and can articulate his strengths as the solution Microsoft needs for such a time like this.

🍒🍒Take courage. Do not be a “Know it all”. Be a “Learn it all”.

“When you’re offered a seat on a rocketship you don’t ask, ‘What seat?’ You just get on,” Sheryl Sandberg recounting the advice given by Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google

Future of Microsoft and cloud, growth mindset
https://news.microsoft.com/2018/03/29/satya-nadella-email-to-employees-embracing-our-future-intelligent-cloud-and-intelligent-edge/

Why Microsoft Got It Right With New CEO Satya Nadella
https://www.wired.com/2014/02/microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella

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