On Leaving Microsoft

I left my role at Microsoft quietly in October this year.

At the time I thought I was going to write a longer post about it then and there, but then an entire month went by, and I didn’t do that! In fact, I didn’t write much of anything for a while.

Part of me wishes I could say that I left the job for some ethical reason, because there are people out there right now with some valid ethical concerns about MS business practices. I support those people. But that’s not really the reason the job stopped being right for me.

In general, I am really proud to have worked at Microsoft. I enjoyed most of my time there. I loved the people I met there with whom I collaborated and still consider many friends. I’d consider going back to Microsoft in fact, after taking some time and if I was welcome, but the role itself would have to be right.

About a year-and-change ago I made the post that my title had changed from Evangelist to Engineer and with that came some changes to the job. At first those changes happened slowly. I was sanguine about it because the job had always changed. Basically every July there was a re-org, big or small, and with that came some updates to my responsibilities. For a time, the Evangelist job was the exact right job for me. But after a while it started to shift from a job with a regional focus, to a job that involved a lot of additional travel. This was also great at first, but the amount of time I spent on airplanes made my health suffer a bit, which is something I’m still rebounding from.

Still, I stuck with the role a bit more. Gradually, all the things I liked about the job, or that I excelled at, were no longer part of the job. I went from focusing on the success of students and startups (areas for which I have passion) to focusing on the success of other large corporations. The role had some games and VR component, which are areas in which I have expertise, but I had to keep fighting to get work like that and less and less of it was crossing my lap. At first, as per my post, I was working on Games and AI, and then slowly I was not really working on those things. Finally, there came a point where I was actively discouraged from taking any more speaking engagements at conferences.

I was looking to shift to a role internally that would align to my passions and be more suitable. But all the roles that were coming across my line of sight were other B2B roles in areas where I would have to learn from the ground up. I think the people that started as Evangelists, but had a background in what I’d call traditional enterprise development, had a smooth transition to the engineering role. But I’m a largely self-taught developer with a heavy focus on game design, 3D modeling, and UX. There was no place here for me that really felt right.

Many people asked “what’s next?” and the honest answer is that I needed this time to recover from a little burnout and find my creative passions again. I am very grateful to my spouse for giving me the time and space!

It’s hard for me to say what I could’ve done differently, or what other opportunities I had, that might have kept me at Microsoft longer or found me a better position there. Rather than dwell on the past I would like to be pleased with what I accomplished and move toward the future.

I am actively interviewing and I am officially on the market! I also have a lot of fun small creative projects in the works that I am going to be releasing in small doses as the year ends. If you would like to work with a creative person who loves video games, loves accessible design, who has spoken internationally and been published in some thoughtful books… please check out my Linked-In or reach out to me directly on Twitter.

 

3 thoughts on “On Leaving Microsoft”

  1. For what it’s worth, my parents worked at Microsoft from 1986-1994 (roughly) and the story you tell sounds a LOT like stories they told.

    My favorite one was about a guy who got “re-orged” so much that eventually he was given a new office without any clear job description, and no introduction to his new supervisor. He went in and sat in his office doing nothing for many, many months.

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