I spent last week doing some training and customer visits in London, England and Bratislava, Slovakia. At a high level, Microsoft consists of two parts:
It is crucial to our overall success that these two parts of the organization work well together despite that we do different things, work in different places, etc. The "Cross-Pond" training that I am participating in aims to bridge this gap. Cross-Pond consists of two exchanges: one where product team people go to the subsidiaries, and vice versa.
In the first part, a number of product team people -- I haven't counted heads, perhaps 10 of us -- were paired up with appropriate "buddies" from subsidiaries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). We all met in London for two days, where we got acquainted and had presentations and discussion driven by the EMEA folks. We learned about EMEA as a whole, about how subsidiaries work, about situations in different subsidiaries based on size and market situation, etc. Next, each pair of buddies travelled to the EMEA buddy's subsidary to see subsidiary work in action.
I am buddies with Robert Simoncic, the General Manager of Microsoft Slovakia. Robert and his team were excellent hosts. I learned a lot about his job and the subsidiary as a whole by talking with him, observing his daily work, meeting people from his team, and meeting with customers in a variety of forums. I found the first half of the exchange very interesting, and am looking forward to hosting Robert and the rest of the EMEA buddies in early December.