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Be who you are, do what you love....

After my last post sharing that I had successfully secured a new role, I promised to share my tips on finding your next job. Here’s some of what I learned. If you have anything to add, come and join the discussion with over 2600 global members at The Career Mum

After choosing to leave Shell via redundancy in December 2017, I was admittedly nervous whether I’d ever work for another company that fulfilled me in the same way that they had in the last 20 years. I’d decided to take a year out and spend more time focussing on my 4 kids. However within a matter of weeks, I’d volunteered to speak on tech panels, participated in mentoring programmes, engaged with a local school on developing a STEM pathway to get more girls in to STEM, kicked off a launch for #linkedinlocal Manchester and massively grown my Career Mum following. It was a wonderful eye opener & opportunity to extend my network to the incredible people in the North West & Globally. However with all of this being voluntary and my diary quickly getting full I was starting to have second thoughts... was being a stay at home mum something that I could comitt to?

Around this time an old school friend contacted me, 'I see you’ve left Shell’ he said, ‘I think you’d love Microsoft, can I refer you?'

My first learning:

  • Networks are so powerful, build and respect them. We were Facebook friends but hadn’t seen each other for over 25years! Yet he’d followed my posts and recognised my ability. 

I read the job description, it felt similar to a role I had done previously, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to work for a company that even without much research I knew had integrity and was one of the best tech companies in the world. So I submitted my application. After a successful Skype interview I was advised my CV would be passed on to the hiring manager. Word came back from HR, sorry you aren’t through to the next round. I was gutted and surprised, I felt I could do the role so I expressed disappointment and told HR I obviously needed to rework my CV as I mustn’t be representing myself properly. He suggested he would support me, so I resubmitted with a covering letter detailing my relevant experience. Fantastic - I was through to the assessment centre. In that 3 hour interview, the hiring manager said, we still aren’t sure but I admire your tenacity. 

My second learning:

  • If you really want something and you believe it is right for you, don’t be too quick to give up and walk away. Some things are worth fighting for right? I also hadn’t applied for any other jobs, this had my full focus. 

As it happens, I didn’t get that job, but by then Microsoft had decided they liked me, I interviewed for a different (and definitely well suited) role and the rest is history!

Through my interviews I did extensive research and preparation. All of which made me believe wholeheartedly that I really wanted to show Microsoft that I would be an asset. 

The CEO Satya Nadella, pictured above has driven a culture of support and collaboration (much of MS software is now opensource). He is the man who succeeded Steve Ballmer as Microsoft's CEO and only the third chief exec in the company's history, and he believes that MS is poised to achieve "magical things" in the coming years. His company mission is:

“To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”

How could I not be inspired by this? Coincidentally it felt very similar to my career mum vision, 'to support and empower every woman to reach their potential'. My interviews were taking place around the time of the Facebook data scandal and just before the launch of GDPR. Microsoft were already addressing any questions about ethics.

In the MS 2018 Build conference Satya said: "I'm reminded of this Mark Weiser quote: "The most profound technologies are those that disappear, they weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it." He acknowledged that with the Internet of things (IoT, where everything is connected), the world is becoming a computer. With that Microsoft has a responsibility to ensure that these technologies are empowering everyone. 

He recognises that privacy is a human right, and will ensure that when we use data, it is to benefit the user. We ensure that the user is always in control of their data and its use.

Same thing with the CLOUD Act. No company has done more in terms of working hard to ensure that there is a framework of law that governs how legitimate governments and legitimate needs of governments to protect their citizens are balanced with privacy. Then there’s Cybersecurity. Satya says we need to act with collective responsibility across the tech sector to help keep the world safe. Finally, ethical artificial intelligence (AI) - he says that we need to ask ourselves not only what computers can do, but what computers should do. I researched the UK CEO Cindy Rose and was delighted with the commitment that she makes to get more girls in to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). At Microsoft’s Digigirlz 9th annual event, Cindy announced to an audience of over 150 schoolgirls: Girls are just as likely as boys to create the next generation of technology that brings people together to solve the world’s biggest problems... when it comes to digital innovation and creativity, anyone can do it”

Here is my 3rd learning:

  • Find a company that is aligned with your own personal core values. Then you will love going to work.

During my interviews I hadn’t mentioned my Career Mum activity, perhaps hesitant in what way it would influence the hiring process. I had however talked about all the additional activities I was doing and that led to great discussion. At the end of one interview the manager said ‘we love your email address by the way’ ( so I explained and I couldn’t believe how encouraging they were. My 4th learning:

  • If it’s the right company for you, they will embrace you for who you are, you shouldn’t have to change.

All in all, I feel incredibly blessed. During my first day of training I watched a welcome video from Satya and his opening words were ‘be who you are and do what you love’. Now that for me, is magical. Thank you for reading and do get in touch if you have feedback.

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