Partner Sales Executive, Microsoft
How did your earlier career choices lead you to your current role at Microsoft?
During undergrad at Wharton and after having the typical finance summer internship, I knew that banking wasn’t for me. Yes, the money is great and lifestyle can be amazing but it was too mundane and rigid for me. I wanted a role where I could interact with people, solve problems with long-term strategic impact and help others achieve success. I didn’t know what specific role that would be but as my career progressed I just focused on putting more of the things I liked and excelled at on the plate, and less of the things I didn’t like on the plate.
Like many others, I was affected by the credit burst in 2009 and was laid off for over a year. I took that time to do some introspection and used that tribulation as an opportunity to take a new path. I did some contractor work to keep myself relevant in the workplace while looking for something permanent. My temp agency at the time posted a one-year contract for a Financial Analyst position with Microsoft in their Advertising and Online Department. I thought, ‘Hmm this would be interesting. The finance part I have down pat and I would get the chance to learn the world of advertising. Not to mention, I would be able to add Microsoft on my resume…..Cool, I am in!’
How did you set yourself apart from other candidates for your current role?
I knew my story and was able to position myself well because it came from a genuine place. People hear, feel and see the passion when I speak about what I do and why I want to do it. There is thought and reason behind each step in my career and I am able to articulate that, but better yet align that to value for Microsoft.
Can you tell us a little bit more about what your role entails and describe a typical day in your work life?
My role is to lead alignment of the Microsoft sales strategy with our Partners by building their relevance and capacity to meet the needs of our customers. I achieve this by educating our customers and partners on Microsoft solutions. A typical day in my shoes would be multiple meetings with partners and customers to progress solutions we are offering, and then lots of internal cross collaboration. Most of that is done via email and phone as most of my team sits through Africa and the Middle East.
You relocated to Ghana with Microsoft. Tell us how that came about.
Visiting my Dad over the holidays in Ghana, I had the chance to meet up with friends that had recently relocated to Ghana. Hearing their experiences, it dawned on me that I work for Microsoft, an international company and that I had the option to explore global opportunities! I always wanted to live and work abroad at some point in my career, so this was my chance to make it happen.
My next step was to set up informational sessions with Microsoft employees throughout the world and that helped me narrow my decision to be based in an emerging market. The timing was perfect. Microsoft had just announced the decision to launch a Ghana office (previously the territory of Ghana was managed out of our office in Nigeria). So I had the chance to be part of that team. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I HAD to take. Not many people can say they were part of the team that launched a Microsoft office in a country. For me, it was even more personal since that country was where my Dad was born and raised and would give me the chance to experience my second home.
What is your life mission and how does your current job intersect with that mission?
Life mission……who knows?! Lol. Simply put I would say my life mission is to be happy and be loved, while aiming to do so for other people in return. My current role intersects with that because I am able to see, touch, and feel the impact that Microsoft has in Ghana since I am on the ground and in the field. When a company flourishes here, I know the names of the people they hire and meet their families. When a customer’s issue is solved, I am able to see the students impacted or the time for a patient to see a doctor decreased. It provides intrinsic value, which in turn provides happiness.
What words of wisdom would you share with someone aspiring to obtain a similar role at Microsoft?
1) Never be complacent in life. When you get that feeling of day in, day out, it is time to do something. And remember no action IS an action. If you don’t like your role, do something to change it to make it better. It could be as simple as taking on a new project, enrolling in a professional class, or joining a network of interest.
2) You must be your biggest fan and know what your strengths are. If you don’t believe in yourself and don’t know what you can bring to the table, why would you expect someone else to know or believe that you can? Microsoft is part of Corporate America. If you deserve a piece of the pie, don’t be shy to take it.
3) Life is more about the journey and less about the destination. Everything happens for a reason, whether it is to teach you a lesson, show that you can achieve something you thought you couldn’t do, or inspire you to do something different. Be open to the journey and what it offers you to be a better version of you.