James O'Neill's Blog

March 30, 2007

Things that suck / Things that rock

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 2:49 pm

I think everyone knows the saying an optimist says the glass is half full, and a pessimist says it is half empty.

  • A cynic says it doesn’t matter what you call it, it still contains the same amount.

  • A PR person will tell you it matters a lot whether people think is it half full or half empty.

  • An Engineer will tell you the glass is twice as big as it needs to be

  • A Sales person will try to persuade you to re-fill the glass

  • A Consultant will tell you how much you have in your glass.

  • An Evangelist will tell you if you looked from a different…

I’ve been doing the evangelist job for a year now. I spent 6 years working in Microsoft Consulting Services. For most of 1990s I wanted to be in consulting and I’d have loved to work for Microsoft, so it should have been my dream job. Eventually I had to admit that I was a Microsoft person but not an MCS person. There’s nothing wrong with MCS, and there’s nothing wrong with me, we just don’t go together well. The culture is different working in evangelism, and it suits me very well – though my old friends who are MCS people wouldn’t like it.

This week I’ve been doing some telephone interviews for people wanting to join the team and that’s had me thinking about the good and bad of working here. I’ve mentioned this list before and I’ll share it now for the benefit of anyone who is thinking of going to http://www.microsoft.com/uk/careers/ – life at Microsoft isn’t perfect, but we have more than half a glass.

Things that rock

Things that suck

The people. Yes, I know it’s a cliché. We really do get more than our fair share of the best people. So much so it often spooks new starters. One of our directors has a nice sound bite. “We have a very low a**hole quotient”

Everyone outside asking if you know Bill Gates personally. For the record, no I haven’t met him.

The benefits package.( Salary is just a part). On top of all the usual benefits, one can buy and sell holiday, tune your health care and insurance benefits. Want a bike ? Gym membership ? Days at a health spa ? Childcare vouchers ? – it’s all available. Not forgetting staff-purchase software and company funded social clubs

Everyone outside Microsoft thinking our base pay is two or three times what we’re actually paid. I visited a customer on the same day that another visitor arrived in a Lambourgini – which the people I was seeing assumed belong to me.

Working environment. I can choose to work from home, and adjust my hours to fit my lifestyle. When I come into Microsoft Campus, it’s a great place to go and do your work.

Hot desking. It’s environmentally friendly and cost efficient. It even helps you meet a wider set of people. But I’d like a desk space to call my own.

Being at the heart of stuff. What we do affects so many people in so many ways. If everything Google has ever done were to vanish tomorrow people would just use another search engine. With Apple a lot of people would get a new music player and a few would get new computers. With Microsoft…

The constant drip of media criticism. A bug in Windows impacts more people than a bug in Linux, so we get held to a higher standard.

The resources of a big company. Other companies I’ve worked for just didn’t have the resources to pull off some of the things Microsoft do.

Big company processes. Too much of what is outsourced goes to companies who aren’t up to our internal standards. (Travel, IT telephone “help”)

Bonus Link

You might have picked up from the last point and a post I made earlier this week that I’m not a big fan of “process”. When I meet some which is ridiculous I want to make seem all the more so. Last night in on the drive home I heard Mark Thomas on the Radio. Mark decided to poke fun at the “Serious Organised Crime and Police Act” – or strictly it’s definition of what needed to go through the process of getting a permit to hold a demonstration. Rather than break the law Mark decided to apply for authorization for a lot of demonstrations. On being presented with 20 applications the Police officer who handles permit applications complained about the work he had to do “I share your pain” said Thomas “look at the first cause I’m demonstrating for.” The office turned to the application “Cut police Paperwork”.
One of several places in the story I nearly drove off the road. If you have Real Player installed you can play the whole programme from the BBC website.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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