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Former Microsoft insiders: What it’s like to work with new CEO Satya Nadella

Prepare for one thing fully totally different.

That’s the phrase from know-how executives who’ve labored with and for new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella over the course his 22-year profession on the Redmond firm. Nadella may need been a relative unknown within the broader know-how world till right now, however he’s extensively revered inside the corporate.

And within the phrases of 1 two-time Microsoftie, Nadella is “an entire 180” from Steve Ballmer, the outgoing CEO who led Microsoft for greater than a decade with an often-booming fashion of management.



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“Satya is considerate, articulate and well-spoken however fairly low-key,” stated Scott Moore, president of Seattle startup Cheezburger, the previous MSN government producer whose tenure at Microsoft gave him a window into Nadella’s management of Microsoft’s Bing search engine and On-line Providers group. “He possesses huge technical information and experience and in contrast to many senior execs, he understands the merchandise he oversees at a deep degree.”

Regardless of his outward demeanor, Nadella is an “aggressive enterprise chief” who’s prepared to tackle tough challenges, Moore stated.

Nadella will not be the kind of chief who would pound the desk with his fist, as a substitute taking a extra considerate strategy to downside fixing. In that regard, he’s extra within the mould of Nike CEO Mark Parker, stated John Connors, the previous Microsoft CFO who now works as a enterprise capitalist at Ignition Companions.

“He’s extra cerebral and has nice product depth, and could be very, superb at getting the proper individuals in the proper jobs,” stated Connors. “Very exhausting working man. Very outward focus, and really product oriented. He might be a man that individuals take pleasure in working for, however on the similar time, if you happen to don’t ship or don’t have the proper ability set, he received’t hesitate to make adjustments.”

These feedback mirror a normal consensus amongst present and former Microsoft workers and executives who’ve labored with Nadella, and assist to clarify why Microsoft’s board selected the 46-year-old native of Hyderabad, India, to lead the corporate as solely the third CEO in its historical past.

Some shareholders — and workers — might be disillusioned that Microsoft didn’t choose a high-profile CEO from exterior the corporate, with a better probability to make main adjustments. However those that have labored with Nadella say they’re excited to see how his management impacts the corporate.

“I don’t suppose he’s going to go in with a set view,” stated former Microsoft government Sanjay Parthasarathy, who employed Nadella into Microsoft’s product teams within the early Nineties, and has remained buddies with the new Microsoft CEO since working with him in these early days. “He’s going to function primarily based on what he sees.”

In these early days, Parthasarathy recalled, Nadella was learning on the weekends to earn his MBA from the College of Chicago. “He simply had probably the most unbelievable work ethic and bandwidth,” stated Parthasarathy, who’s now the CEO of Seattle-area know-how startup Indix.

Earlier than becoming a member of the product teams, Nadella really began in Microsoft’s Company Account Technical Advertising Staff, the place he was employed by Richard Tait, who would go on to develop into co-founder of the Skull board sport, amongst different entrepreneurial ventures.

Vijay Vashee, a former Microsoft government who attended the identical college in India as Nadella, additionally recalled the story of Nadella learning to get his MBA whereas working at Microsoft. “That is extremely powerful to steadiness,” stated Vashee. He described Nadella as a balanced and humble techie who’s a “nice listener” and possesses a “robust enterprise sense.”

Connors, the previous Microsoft chief monetary officer, stated Nadella is the proper selection for the job. That’s partly as a result of he has not all the time taken the simple path, selecting as a substitute more durable challenges inside the firm, resembling making an attempt to enhance Microsoft’s search place or working the Microsoft bCentral small enterprise on-line service. Among the experiments he embarked upon labored, others didn’t.

When Nadella got here in to run Microsoft’s Web search engineering crew, he had not beforehand labored straight on cloud providers at such an enormous scale, recalled Ken Moss, a former Microsoft internet search government who’s now vp of eBay marketplaces platform. Regardless of his earlier lack of expertise in that space, he was ready to rise up to velocity extraordinarily shortly on the search enterprise and underlying know-how, Moss stated.

“He earned prompt respect of everybody he labored with, as a result of it was clear always that he would make exhausting selections to do the proper factor, and base these selections on a deep understanding of actuality,” Moss defined. “There’s no room for BS with Satya within the room.”

Nadella, after all, has by no means run an organization of Microsoft’s measurement. And he’s by no means had to deal with the whims of public inventory holders. However Connors thinks Nadella can shine on Wall Road, noting that he’ll probably kind a robust crew with CFO Amy Hood. The corporate is also in a a lot totally different spot in contrast to when Ballmer took the reins again in 2000, a time through which the corporate’s worth to earnings ratio stood at about 90. It’s now 13.

“He’s obtained an entire totally different dynamic than what Steve (Ballmer) confronted, so there’s a good alternative for worth creation, and I feel traders will like that,” he stated.

By way of dealing with Wall Road, Connors stated that crucial factor for Nadella is to “get the enterprise proper, and that may deal with itself.”

One key benefit for Microsoft is that it’s already a frontrunner within the enterprise software program enviornment, a enterprise that’s rising extraordinarily quick and one the place Nadella has loads of expertise. That’s not to say there aren’t huge challenges. In reality, Connors stated that giant world corporations like Microsoft “are nearly inhumanely complicated to run.”

And one very huge complexity will emerge nearly instantly when Microsoft absorbs Nokia and its 30,000 workers. Microsoft is already far behind within the cell enterprise, with its Home windows Telephone working system hovering at simply 3.1 % market share within the U.S.

“In the event you have a look at the shifts within the gadget world, the shifts have occurred fairly commonly,” stated Connors. “So that they’ve obtained to emerge as a frontrunner within the subsequent huge shift, and that might be his nice problem, but in addition his nice alternative.”

Connors believes that Nadella is one of the best particular person suited to assist the corporate prolong its lead within the enterprise and regain its mojo in cell. “I feel the Microsoft diaspora — if you happen to had been to do a ballot would say: ‘Yeah, it is a nice rent,’” he stated.

Moore agreed, saying he believes Microsoft workers might be comfortable with the change.

“He isn’t a rah-rah cheerleader,” stated Moore. “I’m positive workers will miss Ballmer’s ardour, however I believe they may welcome Satya’s regular hand and clear strategic focus. Among the many senior execs I obtained to know at Microsoft (and Yahoo! for that matter) Satya impressed me and earned my deep respect.”

GeekWire co-founder John Cook dinner contributed to this report. Up to date on Feb. 5 with extra quotes.

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