Meet Microsoft’s MBA class of 2020 Microsoft


“Growth mentality” is something you will hear a lot at Microsoft. It wasn’t a term that was coined by marketing and drilled home by management. Instead, “Growth Mindset” arose organically at Microsoft. Because it awakens what makes the company so successful: an impulse to ask questions and push boundaries – and a mission to “enable every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”.

It was precisely this “growth mindset” that attracted Teni Ayo-Ariyo to Microsoft. As a Duke Fuqua MBA, Ayo-Ariyo completed her summer internship in Redmond in the field of HR strategy. During this time she found a team that helped her develop into a leader and innovator.

“I was encouraged to ask questions, share what I learned, and suggest new strategies for my team,” writes Ayo-Ariyo. “At Microsoft, I really feel that I can safely take risks and make full use of my professional interests. From the Aspire program for MBA employees to the HR rotation program, I am constantly challenged to expand my scope by including the work of others and taking advantage of the numerous learning opportunities throughout the company. “


Alina Everett, who earned her MBA from Cornell University last spring before moving to Microsoft’s channel management division, compares this “growth mindset” to a “rising tide lifts all boats” approach – a shared commitment that empowers team members to do their best every day. It starts with fearlessness, explains Verlandy Michel, the MBA recruiter at Microsoft. In an interview with P&Q in March, she stated that one of the company’s strengths is that talent does not get bogged down in worries and pointers when mistakes happen. Instead, they get up, pick up the lessons, and go back to it right away.

Alina Everett

“The difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset is that you can think of different ways of doing things,” notes Michel. “When we think about the implications for MBAs, with this growth mindset you can take risks and try to steer the business in a different direction with your knowledge. The mindset of growth is that strong drive for results and sway for effects … It means that you don’t let anything dissuade you. “

How does Microsoft know that an MBA candidate brings this growth mindset to their team? For Michel, it shows what the applicants did outside of class. “You can tell by the fact that people make a difference,” she adds. “Many of these MBAs do amazing things. They run non-profit organizations and start businesses. They do this for the good of our society. One of our pillars is to make a difference. In addition to investing in Microsoft, you need to invest in how the world can be made a better place. This makes them a perfect match for Microsoft. “


Yes, Microsoft MBAs are differentiators, but they’re not necessarily tech geeks. Before earning her MBA from Georgetown University, Loretta Richardson studied creative writing as a Bachelor. Yale SOMs Cathy Saragossa, now a service architect, has a bachelor’s degree in art history. Joao Pinto, who is a mechanical engineer by profession, insists that Microsoft welcomes students from all backgrounds and works methodically to improve their technical skills.

“You are not born with all abilities,” writes the Duke Fuqua graduate. “You learn it. Microsoft offers powerful tools and initiatives to help employees grow. “

For this summer, Verlandy Michel expects MBA internships and attitudes to be the same as last year, when there were around 90-100 MBAs for internships and 70-80 post-internship MBA positions. These spots are open to everyone, with 2020 MBA staff coming from underrated gems like the University of Maryland and Howard University.

“The great thing about our recruiting approach is that we are not dependent on school,” explains Michel. “We look beyond the top 20 and understand the idea of ​​a variety of thoughts. To achieve the true diversity we are looking for, we need to look at all of them. There is such great talent in the MBA market. That’s crazy.”


Verlandy Michel

Talent attracts excellence: the chance to create, build, and lead – not to mention leaving a legacy. And MBAs can find that platform at Microsoft, whose market cap of $ 1.828 trillion makes it the third most valuable company in the world. The company is one of the most innovative forces in the cloud and artificial intelligence sector. It owns three-quarters of the desktop operating system market, not counting Xbox Live’s 90 million subscribers. With its wide range of solutions – and the talent needed to serve billions of consumers worldwide – Microsoft offers a wealth of opportunities for MBAs to build unforgettable and meaningful careers.

“You can have so many different careers in one company,” adds Verlandy Michel. “MBAs will have the opportunity to exercise. At Microsoft, we are committed to retaining our talent – you can move from working in finance to marketing instead of moving to another company. Even though we compete with banking and consulting, there are so many ways Microsoft can do these things. If you want them, they are there. Even within a discipline there are so many different aspects. In marketing, for example, there is cloud marketing, devices, games – there are so many ways to spin around and do something else. That makes us very competitive. There are people who have been here for 15-20 years. They talk about how they got so many roles and that’s what keeps them here. “

In the beginning, MBAs have many opportunities to make a difference. Olu Akande, a 2020 Howard University MBA, started out as a product marketing manager. He describes his role as “mak[ing] ensure that our products find the right people in the right place and at the right time. ”In contrast, Michael Salazar, a Texas A&M MBA now working in program management, summarizes his role in three words: data and dashboards.

“For some reason, this catchy phrase stuck in the impressionable mind of my little son,” writes Salazar. “However, I’ve expanded to share that I’m primarily supporting the security solutions space to ensure we have the right data, dashboards, and business insights to strategically achieve our goals in this critical area.”


Joao Pinto helps set Microsoft device prices, a role that requires digging into data like consumer behavior, sales volumes and price trends. In marketing, the University of Rochester Joshua West outlines the “buyer journey” and develops a “sales narrative … in the language of the customer”. At the same time, Loretta Richardson was busy engaging customers and developing their marketing tools.

When introducing these tools, we must pay particular attention to building trust with customers, promoting transparency and respecting the customer’s privacy. That’s why I also design the governance and communication for all aspects of data collection to ensure that our marketers handle customer data responsibly, securely and in accordance with the law. “

Of course, the Class of 2020 took on great responsibility long before Microsoft – or the Business School! Duke Fuquas Olivia Henshaw, Cloud specialist at Microsoft, previously worked in the aerospace industry, where she helped a Chinese customer develop a Medevac jet. At Coca-Cola, Joshua West was responsible for one of the company’s “first” sales areas – even though he was in his mid-twenties. Six years ago Teni Ayo-Ariyo started SEEDS, a coaching program that supports women in pursuing entrepreneurship. For Cathy Zaragoza, Americorps taught her everything she needs to be successful at Microsoft.

“I owe all of my professional resilience and conflict to these experiences and would not hesitate to recommend that anyone spend a few years in the service. Anything could be thrown in my way at this point and it still wouldn’t be as challenging as the countless times I’ve had to plan and run events for 150 people with a team of four and a budget of $ 1,000, or how I build had to have IKEA furniture in the office on the weekends while we also write federal grant applications to triple our annual operating budget so we can hire more staff. To this day, colleagues point out how calm I can be in tricky situations. It’s all thanks to my 501c3 days. “

Team meeting with the management


That’s just one of the great stories from last year’s MBA recruitment course. Gabriel Meizner, a Northwestern Kellogg MBA, jokes that his first job was as a “karate sensei”. He has something in common with the black belt Joao Pinto – “eight-time state champion of São Paulo and three-time 2nd place in the Brazilian national championship”. When she was growing up, Alina Everett competedFigure skating, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and biathlon ”- which, in addition to backpacking tours, are among her favorite pastimes. Instead of outdoor sports, Loretta Richardson found her passion in music.

I grew up as a classical lyric soprano and have been a musician since I was 12, ”she writes. “I love to take the audience into another world through musical storytelling. I’ve even had the privilege of performing at iconic music events like the Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl! So after work I can attend a singing class, record a voice-over or prepare for an open mic night. “

Many MBA employees have been using Microsoft products since childhood. However, most of them came to the company for reasons other than loving their solutions. Michael Salazar, for example, admits that he had little experience with Microsoft until three years ago. He had never operated a game console and had only used Microsoft’s operating system when he started out in business school. However, he decided to start his career at Microsoft after completing his MBA for a reason.

“I am an idealist and a dreamer. I believe in the spirit of what Microsoft is trying to achieve as a global corporate citizen, and I believe I saw it as the next right step to possibly play a small role and pursue my fascination that began as a child of success, invention, Innovation and global impact forever. “

Go to the next page to access 12 detailed profiles of MBA employees in 2020.

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