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Catching up with former Microsoft exec and Seattle Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel

Lisa Brummel may have retired after 25 years at Microsoft, but the former executive is still certainly keeping busy.

GeekWire caught up with Brummel at the WNBA All-Star Game last month in Seattle, where the Seattle Storm co-owner joined thousands of hoops fans who had a chance to watch the world’s best women’s basketball players compete against one another at Key Arena.

Brummel, who was a stud athlete while attending Yale — she played basketball, softball, volleyball, and track at the Ivy League university — was part of an ownership group that bought the Storm in 2008. The team won a WNBA title in 2010.

Brummel joined Microsoft in 1989 and became the company’s chief people officer in 2005, overseeing an employee base that now totals more than 120,000. She helped lead Microsoft through a series of major changes in HR practices before retiring in 2014.

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When asked about lessons she’s learned from helping lead both at Microsoft and with the Storm, Brummel said “it’s really all about people, no matter where you go.”

“There are a little different outcomes when you’re talking with engineers and developers and program managers, [compared] to basketball players, and it’s an ongoing year-round thing compared to 18 games,” she explained. “But it’s still about people — what motivates them, how to get the best out of them, how they get the best out of you, how to listen to feedback from people you work with, and how to make yourself better all the time.”

Brummel said she’d like to see both the WNBA and the Storm embrace more technology, echoing what WNBA Commissioner Lisa Borders said about Twitter and FanDuel.

“I really think technology is the future of the league,” Brummel said. “We’ve looked back and played basketball and analyzed basketball the old way. I really want to challenge us, both here in Seattle and as a league, to use new technology. I want us to be a modern WNBA; I don’t want us to be an old school NBA or old school WNBA. Technology is really the key to that.”

Brummel’s post-Microsoft life includes helping out at the Storm and spending time with family, in addition to some consulting and mentoring. The Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee said she’s happy to see Microsoft continue to grow; the company saw shares hit an all-time high last month.

“Satya [Nadella] is a special guy and he’s been a great leader in his time there,” she said. “I’m really proud of the company and happy for my friends who are still there. I still have great connections with the place and I’m just really proud to have worked there for 25 years.”

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