I recently interviewed Scott Horn, a General Manager in our Mobile and Embedded Devices Group at Microsoft. I used to recruit for this team (was it 3 years ago?), which was really fun because they value potential (a quality that warms a recruiter's heart) and they understand recruiting (never had to worry about sending my best candidates their way). The MED team is actively hiring so Scott shared a little about their charter and the types of roles they have open.
HH: Scott, let’s start off with a little information about you. Can you share your background with us; before and since joining Microsoft and also please tell us what you are responsible for now.
SH: I’ve been at Microsoft a bit over 11 years and my time here has been incredibly fun and satisfying. I’ve worked across a number of products and businesses during that time and have had the opportunity to work on startup, established and turn-around businesses. I’ve also been fortunate to spend time thinking about a lot of different types of customers - - consumers, business customers, developers and IT professionals. I even spent several years on the product development side of the house leading development teams. The great thing about Microsoft is that just about every kind of job and scenario exists within the company and people are given the flexibility and support to try different things during their careers here.
HH: Scott, many people are aware that Microsoft recently announced an organizational change that resulted in 3 large business organizations. Can you tell us what MED is responsible for and how the group fits into the larger Microsoft organization structure?
SH: MED stands for Mobile and Embedded Devices and we’re part of the Entertainment and Devices Group that includes XBox, MSTV and a lot of Microsoft’s entertainment products. Within that group MED focuses on software for mobile devices like phones and PDAs and for a broader range of devices that aren’t PCs.
HH: And your team specifically, what are you responsible for relative to other parts of MED?
SH: I lead a team we refer to as MED Campaigns & Communications. It’s a team of people that focuses on global outbound marketing and communications. The team includes a great mix of people who are deep in specific marketing disciplines like channel development, events and PR with people who integrate them across different types of audiences and with partners in integrated campaigns. It’s a great set of people – very creative, passionate about growing our business and being the best at what we do at both an industry and a discipline level.
HH: When people hear “Mobile and Embedded Devices”, they may not necessarily understand Microsoft’s involvement in this space. Can you explain our place in the device ecosystem?
SH: You bet. Think of Mobile and Embedded Devices as the group that produces software that powers non-PC devices. We have two software platforms we focus on:
Windows Mobile is for mobile devices like phones, PDAs and portable media devices and delivers a consistent customer and application developer platform that works across many different devices.
Windows Embedded is for a broader range of non-PC devices that span everything from consumer electronics through industrial automation and retail point of service systems. Given the diversity of devices across these spaces, our focus is on providing a set of software building blocks that device makers can mix-n-match and add to when they build a device.
So our focus is on creating software platforms that device makers can leverage to bring their products to market more quickly and to enable their devices to do things that aren’t possible with self-developed software. We’re seeing dramatic growth in these businesses because companies are increasingly turning to Microsoft because of the ever-faster product lifecycles and increasing amount of technologies they need to support. When they use our software they get to focus on their unique value-add rather than having to invest in a lot of “plumbing”.
HH: You have several marketing positions open in your group. Can you tell us a little bit about your management team?
SH: Sure, it’s a good mix of folks with Microsoft experience and industry hires. In fact the management team is pretty representative of the group – it’s a set of people that combine deep marketing discipline experience with broader business integration abilities. I look for and reward strong managers and we’ve seen that recognized with a couple of our managers being recognized with awards for being outstanding. The best part is that they were nominated by people on their teams and their peers.
HH: How would you describe your team culture?
SH: Passionate, results-focused, always wanting to learn from what we do so we do it better. The folks on our team get along well and like each other. It’s a great group.
HH: OK, let’s talk a little about the Channel Marketing Manager position that is open. It looks like this role is focused on outbound marketing/branding for Microsoft’s mobile phone technology. Does that sound about right?
SH: This role is focused on working with our channel partners to develop strategies for increasing awareness and demand for Windows Mobile devices in a variety of channels including retail. This is a critical role for our team and it provides the opportunity to contribute to our broader marketing strategy.
HH: The position description mentions internal and external partners. Can you provide a little more detail on the nature of those partnerships? Externally, are we talking about device manufacturers?
SH: Externally, we’re talking about a broad set of partners that help us sell products – these include Mobile Operators who have their own retail locations, National Retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City, our Value-Added-Reseller channel which supports medium- and small business and our Distributor partners who sell devices directly to consumers and business professionals.
HH: Let’s move on to the Audience Marketing Manager, Windows Mobile Developers. The AIM team sounds interesting and seems to have a lot of different marketing channels available to them. This is one of the reasons I always liked recruiting for MED (variety of roles). Do you generally look for specialists in advertising, online marketing etc., or are you really looking for more of a product marketing person?
SH: This role is an opportunity to be the “quarterback” for an entire audience – Application Developers. We’re looking for someone with a good understanding of different marketing disciplines and the ability to pull together experts in those areas around a common audience marketing strategy.
HH: The job description mentions the role being focused on marketing programs. Can you give us an example of a program that has been put into place in the past and can you tell us how you go about measuring results from that type of program?
SH: We’ve been doing a set of integrated online campaigns where we create compelling messaging, content to support it and then drive awareness in the target audience. Doing this well requires understanding the audience deeply, being creative in messaging and demand generation, and picking the right metrics to drive against. But this is only one example – the Audience Marketing Manager role has a lot of flexibility in how to best accomplish their goals.
HH: Now on to the Senior Online Marketing Manager, also on the AIM team. For this role, are you looking for more of a marketing person or more of a technical (web) person?
SH: Definitely more of a marketing person. We’re looking for someone with great business/marketing abilities who really understands how to use the online medium to drive overall business strategy in conjunction with other elements of the marketing mix. People who worked in companies where they’ve had to drive customer relationships and understanding as part of an overall business would be great in this role.
HH: Can you talk a little about how you think about “community” as it relates to this role?
SH: We’re increasingly investing in what we call audience marketing within MED. Audiences are groups of people that have similar needs and wants – examples include Mobile Information Workers (business customers), Consumers, Developers and IT Professionals. One thing that all these different audiences have in common is a desire to meet and learn from others like them. We believe that enabling them to come together in communities where they can discuss, learn and share together is an important part of satisfying them – so it’s a big focus for us.
HH: Interesting...the job description refers to an “online loyalty destination”…what’s that?
SH: We’re thinking about a lot of ways to encourage people to participate more deeply in these communities and to have them also opt-in for a relationship with Microsoft so we can learn about how to make our products and programs serve them better. Loyalty destinations are an integral part of that encouragement.
HH: Lastly, let’s talk about Marketing Manager role focused on Go-to-Market Partner Management. The focus of this role appears to be partnering with other Microsoft teams to take multiple products to market with partners. Is that right?
SH: Yes, that’s right. The folks on this team lead virtual teams that bring together various experts across the marketing disciplines and the sales team and create an integrated business and marketing plan with our mobile operator and device maker partners.
HH: Can you give an example of a joint GTM effort?
SH: A great example of an effort like this is the work we’re doing with Palm and Verizon Wireless to bring the new Windows Mobile Treo to market together. In this case, we build a very focused, coordinated plan across the three companies and we also work to integrate support for this solution within the broader Go-To-Market campaign we’re doing around Windows Mobile. The people in these roles need to have strong business and marketing abilities and an understanding of how to pull together a broad set of people and get them excited about a common goal. It’s a lot of fun.
HH: Can you provide a little more detail on Go-to-Market Frameworks? I’m wondering if that is terminology that’s industry-wide. When the description mentions that the ideal candidate will have experience working with GTM Frameworks, what kinds of strategies/activities would the person have worked with?
SH: The terminology is Microsoft-specific. The idea is that we’re increasingly focused on integrated marketing campaigns that focus on solving customer challenges rather than simply marketing products. The integrated part means we have to bring together advertising, direct response, events, online, PR and other parts of the marketing mix into a cohesive message that is very clear to customers and that meets their needs. These efforts are global in scope and run over multiple years.
HH: Overall, Scott, what do you think it takes to be a successful marketer at Microsoft? In MED?
SH: An ability to take a situation you haven’t seen before, break it down in terms of what the key levers are, figure out what you need to do to move those levers, communicate them clearly to those around you and get them excited enough to work with you. It’s also important to have a passion for changing people’s lives at the global level by enabling them via technology.
HH: Since you are a marketing leader, just for fun, I thought maybe you could give us a value proposition statement for “marketing careers in MED”.
SH: Hmm, I’d say a marketing career in MED involves the fun of building a business in a market where new products and innovation are happening quickly and at a scale that has the potential to impact more people globally than anything else. There are over 1.5 BILLION people using a phone around the world today – that’s going to grow to over 3 Billion in 2010 according to industry estimates. That’s about as big as it gets in terms of market opportunity.
HH: Thanks Scott
PS...anyone interested in having me pass their resume to Scott's team, please e-mail it to me (mentioning MED in subject line) at Heather.Hamilton@microsoft.com