How Satya Nadella REALLY Got the Microsoft CEO position

Posted by Scott Hoffman

inflight re fuelingresizeAll companies, especially publically traded companies, want a Chief Executive Officer who is personable, intelligent, strategic and filled with optimism.  Sometimes, they find the solution to their empty CEO’s chair internally and sometimes they employ search firms to find the “perfect” fit.

But, most new CEOs, and certainly Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, deploy a simple plan to rise to the top.  Is Mr. Nadella brilliant?  Almost certainly.  Is he a good communicator?  Yes.  Does he know a lot about running one of the largest companies in the world?  You bet.  But, there were lots of candidates who could check these boxes on their personal scorecard.  So, what did Satya Nadella do differently that every BizTalk professional should be employing in their everyday work-life?  Let’s take a look.

First, although I never worked with Mr. Nadella, I can guarantee that he was an expert in building bases of support within Microsoft.  Every decision, every meeting, every email was carefully crafted to ensure that he clearly supported the larger goals of the organization and the departments that his work roles might only tacitly touch. 

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As these managers and Mr. Nadella grew into new positions, he could count on support because he had so often given support.  Further, by finding new ways in which his groups could further the goals of other groups with different Microsoft scorecards, Sir Satya created budget and operational insulation for his groups and a support structure for his career.

BizTalk professionals are often too willing to work in the shadows, despite the mission-critical nature of most BizTalk deployments.  Then, they act shocked when budgets and other resources are slashed. 

BizTalk isn’t being used to organize company holiday parties.  In most organizations, BizTalk is connecting applications and solutions that are the life’s blood of that company.  So, BizTalk pros need to be spending time ensuring that affected stakeholders are clear on the importance of BizTalk in achieving their departmental goals while also seeking out new opportunities where BizTalk can help.

I can also guarantee that Mr. Nadella didn’t suddenly spring onto the radar of Microsoft senior managers and board members.  In fact, I’m quite certain that he jumped at every opportunity to teach, present or just attend meetings and other events where he could interact with senior leaders.  I’d also wager that he used these opportunities to give props to the senior leaders that were helping his teams achieve their goals, always mindful not to appear over-eager or too self-serving.

BizTalk workers can use AIMS for BizTalk’s self-learning feature to proactively end false alerts while increasing lead time on problems before they are seen by other stakeholders.  This is an excellent way to create a conversation with senior leaders because you can show how you made the boss look great without breaking the bank or waiting for that weekend crisis and you would probably be shocked at how many senior leaders are aware of the business process being managed by BizTalk yet oblivious to the presence of the solution.

Finally, I believe that a post-mortem on all of Satya Nadella’s work groups would show that he was able to find proactivity in an often reactive IT world.  Little wins are a big deal, even in big companies, but only if leadership is aware that there was a win.  I doubt Mr. Nadella was shy about sharing wins with his leadership.

AIMS for BizTalk gives BizTalk team members the opportunity to demonstrate to senior leaders the proactivity that is so often lacking in the IT profession.  Let’s face it, there’s some level of job security in fire-fighting.  But, this view is short-sighted because senior leaders eventually become frustrated with hearing that the same product is creating another problem and competing product salespeople are waiting to pounce on this recurring frustration.  Are you still seriously working with static thresholds and lots of false alerts?  That’s so early 2000’s.

If you want to advance your career, increase the resources you manage or simply create more job security, install AIMS for BizTalk and follow Mr. Nadella’s lead.  Good things are sure to follow.


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