Microsoft’s VP of Human Resources, Lisa Brummel, sent out a note about this past week that truly humbled and inspired me.  The note highlighted some of the contributions that teams and individual employees have made to Katrina victims doing what we do best – using technology to solve problems and help improve people’s lives.  These efforts by Microsoft employees are what make Microsoft a special place to work. Here are a few examples;

    • Jim Carroll, a database architect from Birmingham, Alabama, and a half-dozen other Microsoft engineers from California, Florida, Alabama and Texas, worked virtually nonstop for four days to develop, an online tool being used by the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, and by relief agencies to help evacuees find family members separated by the crisis. Since the site went live on Sept. 5, information about tens of thousands of evacuees has been registered on the site, and it’s being updated continuously with information from relief centers across the affected region.
    • Murali Krishnan, a group program manager in MSN, led an effort of about 100 Microsoft employees to build a secure Web site hosted by MSN to accept donations for the Red Cross. Krishnan’s team built the site – – in just 20 hours. At last check, the MSN Web site has already generated more than $3 million in donations for the Red Cross.
    • Dawn Gagnon, a mobility solutions specialist in Houston, arranged for the delivery of Microsoft Smartphones to 30 doctors at the main Red Cross medical triage site in Baton Rouge, and 150 Texas National Guard command post leaders being deployed to Louisiana to help with relief efforts. With land lines and switching stations down throughout Louisiana, the Smartphones were a top priority of the Texas National Guard to keep command leaders in touch. A makeshift assembly line of friends, family and neighbors at Dawn’s house worked for 12 hours to activate and charge the phones and make up waterproof bags that included car chargers and extra batteries.
    • John Morello, a senior Microsoft consultant in south Louisiana, saw the need for an e-mail system that volunteers could use to help evacuees connect with people they’d been separated from. The Microsoft Hotmail team created the accounts in under four hours, and this has already helped reunite dozens of families. Suresh Babu, group program manager at Hotmail, then orchestrated a cross-team effort to help tens of thousands of evacuees set up and use free Hotmail e-mail accounts to let friends and family know they’re OK, check in with employers, contact their insurance companies, even keep in touch with other victims of the hurricane.
    • Todd Ellison, a technical account manager in the Houston office working to assist local officials in relief efforts, walked into a wholesale computer parts distributor and asked if they would donate two laptop computers needed by the chief information officers of the City of Houston and Harris County, Texas. Five minutes later, Todd was out the door with two new machines.
    • Bill Steele, an Indiana-based Microsoft developer evangelist and private pilot, has been using his own twin-engine plane to shuttle food and supplies to areas of need. Flying out of Baton Rouge, Bill has delivered 17,500 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), mostly to the lower part of Mississippi.
    • Steve Lough, an account manager in our federal sales office, led a team of senior Microsoft technologists working in partnership with Intel, Cisco and SBC at the Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C. to help create a communications infrastructure for relief shelters, establish computer kiosks for evacuees and Red Cross workers, and dispense financial assistance broadly. Microsoft also worked with the Red Cross to establish a solid core data infrastructure to meet the huge increase in demand on the agency’s IT system.
    • Blacks at Microsoft (an internal special interest group) is allocating funds to assist displaced students at historically black schools affected by the disaster, including Xavier University, Dillard University and Southern University of New Orleans.
    • In Redmond, a group of employees is putting together 200 boxes of sanitation and first-aid kits – about a ton of supplies. They’ll be shipped to the Microsoft office in Houston where Microsoft employees will pick them up and take them to a local airport, where four private planes are at the ready to fly the supplies to Baton Rouge. From there, they’ll be picked up by local charities and dispersed to those in need.
    • The folks at Bungie Studios, a Microsoft subsidiary that developed the Halo games for the Xbox, used the Web to sell more than $100,000 “Fight the Flood” charity T-shirts online. The proceeds will go to the Red Cross, as will royalties earned from other Bungie Store products sold in September. (I got 3 of these)
    • Three of Microsoft’s Across America trucks, fully equipped with communications systems and advanced technology, are on their way to Red Cross relief operation centers in the Gulf Region to provide vital coordination capabilities.
    • Groove is being used by the Red Cross and the Army Corps of Engineers as a collaboration tool to enable communications for multiple partners in the relief effort, and Groove has employees helping on site at the Red Cross.

I’m sure that there are SEVERAL other examples but even these few are tremendous.  I won’t talk about what I’ve done because it isn’t as impactful as these—but I’ve certainly tried to make some contribution.  But looking at these examples has inspired me to renew my thinking to do something creative and impactful.  I’m very proud to work alongside such great people.

Tags: Katrina