Companies Hiring, Executive Feature

Why Joining Microsoft Canada May Be The Best Career Move You’ll Ever Make

Breathtaking scenery, friendly residents, progressive economic and social policies. These are all excellent perks of living and working in Canada. But now there’s an exciting new reason to move to the second largest country in the world.

Microsoft Canada has just won the #1 spot on the Employees’ Choice Awards, honoring the Best Places to Work in 2019. Unlike other workplace awards, the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards are based on the input of employees who voluntarily provide anonymous feedback, by completing a company review about their job, work environment and employer over the past year.

While Microsoft’s headquarters is in Seattle, WA, Toronto is home to Microsoft Canada’s head office where thousands of employees strive to innovate. “Working at Microsoft means you are working with the best and brightest to positively impact Canada, our economy, society and our environment,” says Kevin Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada. “Find a job you love, create the future you want, explore your unique passion, and empower billions. Not many companies offer the chance to play a part in having impact at that kind of scale.”

If you’re looking to make an impact and be at the forefront of AI and tech innovation, the #1 Canadian Best Place to Work may be for you. We asked Peesker to tell us why.

Glassdoor: Congratulations on being the #1 Canadian Best Place to Work! What does it mean to have your employees honor the company as a 2019 Best Place to Work?

Kevin Peesker: On behalf of our people, our partners and customers coast to coast who share in the daily experience of being part of team Microsoft, we are thrilled!  We share a collective sense of commitment to our mission: “To enable every person and organization on the planet to achieve more” while we strive each day to make Microsoft an amazing place to work: a place where people “can come as they are, and do what they love” to make others cool; a place where we focus on important and meaningful work that has a positive impact on society overall. Glassdoor awards are highly respected – this award is humbling and a true honor for us to share with our team.

Glassdoor: Recently, how has Microsoft invested in company culture, employee engagement and employee feedback in Canada?

Kevin Peesker: Not only within Canada but also across Microsoft globally, we continue to invest heavily in creating an amazing mission centered culture.  Our multi-year growth mindset based journey to re-shape Microsoft is accelerating in pace to match the transformation of our market.  A core transition has been moving from moments of inspection to development focused two-way coaching. Each team member is asked to contribute to our success by creating clarity, generating energy and delivering results.

We take feedback from our employees seriously. We listen, learn and adapt.  Not only do we have the traditional annual employment engagement surveys, we also do regular check-ins or “Employee Pulse” surveys so that our leaders can receive ongoing and timely feedback which augments regular in-person manager and employee roundtables so team members can share their thoughts openly and honestly.   The feedback from all of these sources is then used to shape our employee strategy and allow us to make changes that allow everyone to do their best work

A key area of investment in today’s tech intense world is regular structured and unstructured development of all of our employees and our manager community to make them even better leaders.  We recognize the importance of our front line managers in regards to overall employee engagement and workplace satisfaction and as such are committed to making our already great managers, even better.

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Glassdoor: This award speaks volumes about the company but also signals to job seekers that this is an amazing place to work. Why should people apply to open roles at Microsoft Canada?

Kevin Peesker: I have spent 29 years in the tech industry and it is clear to me there has never been a more impactful period of technology impact on every business and sector of government.  Working at Microsoft means you are working with the best and brightest to positively impact Canada, our economy, society and our environment. Our culture is one of continuous development. Find a job you love, create the future you want, explore your unique passion, and empower billions. Not many companies offer the chance to play a part in having impact at that kind of scale.

Giving back is part of who we are. Whether we’re bridging lines of communication, donating products, empowering humanitarian organizations, using our skills to help others, enabling each person to achieve their true ability or simply lending a hand to those in need, Microsoft makes giving a top priority. We have many opportunities for employees to give back including paid time off for volunteering as well as matching a portion of employees’ charitable donations.

We’re dedicated to diversity. We don’t just value differences; we seek them out and invite them in. In our view, it’s not enough to just hire diverse talent, it’s incredibly important that we foster an environment where everyone feels heard and where employees feel empowered to leverage their unique skills and perspectives.

Glassdoor: Globally, Microsoft has nearly 10,000 open roles. In Canada, what are some of your hiring priorities?

Kevin Peesker: At Microsoft, we are always hiring. In particular, Canada continues to be a key global market for Microsoft talent and our Canadian business is a high growth business.  With that, we have the opportunities to bring in amazing new talent.  We employee a very broad group of employees from technical architects, technical sales, sales engineers, AI specialists, PhD Data scientists and a range of business functions such as finance, operations, marketing, legal and HR on our go to market teams across the country, to software developers/engineers in our Microsoft Vancouver Development Center to AI Researchers in our Microsoft Research Lab in Montreal.

Glassdoor: In the spirit of transparency, what light can you shed on the interview process at Microsoft? What are your recruiters and hiring managers looking for in today’s talent?

Kevin Peesker: We strive to create a recruiting culture where everyone is on the lookout for great talent well ahead of when it is needed.  As a result, the interview process often has a combination of people evaluating candidates – peers on the team, technical SMEs to evaluate technical acumen, key stakeholders. We do not have specific questions I would call out to be prepared for, but rather the advice I would offer is to show up prepared to have a rich and thoughtful discussion.  We look for a strong desire to learn, intense curiosity about helping customers, intelligence, a passion for technology, a willingness to work hard, to collaborate, to build rock-solid skills, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a desire to be the best. Be authentic in your interview process – be open, honest and humble.

Glassdoor: What keeps you at the company for the long haul? What advice would you give to companies focused on retention?

Kevin Peesker: The pace of change in all industries is extraordinary today and it is amplified in the technology sector. Companies that stay relevant are those who are willing to learn and adapt. Our CEO Satya Nadella talks about being a “learn it all” versus a ‘know it all’ and that is the culture we are trying to create.  All companies need to continually learn and evolve.  At Microsoft, we are truly becoming a “learn it all” company, where we recognize that missteps and mistakes do happen – what we learn and how we respond is what matters: to be backed by a company and culture that wants each team member to learn more, that supports a growth mindset and wants people to feel deeply connected is a huge differentiator in my mind.

You cannot underestimate the importance of culture in both attracting and retaining talent. We are all operating in a highly competitive marketplace, and employees want to feel deeply connected to the company’s culture, mission and each other. Retention is not a simple process or “silver bullet,” it is the work we do day in and day out to enable an environment, which is truly a great place to work.

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Glassdoor: What’s next for Microsoft?

Kevin Peesker: Our mission is to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”. Each and every day we are working with our incredible partner ecosystem to help our customers with their digital transformation journey. With new advances in AI, blockchain, the Internet of Things, it’s our job to help Canadians understand and see first hand how technology can empower them to do more.   

Given the pace of change of technology and the fact that every company is now a technology company, a top priority of us at Microsoft is working with academics, government, and industry to help encourage young people to get the skills they need when entering the job force. For those already working, we want to work together to help develop their skills. It’s not only beneficial for the individual but it benefits organizations and ultimately the Canadian economy.   In the global arena, the highest skilled will achieve more and as passionate Canadians we have a broader impact to achieve.

Our team is committed to being a champion of diversity and inclusion. This isn’t just a trending topic — it is an imperative. We have come into this year amplifying inclusion because we realize that the quote – “I go where I am invited but I stay where I am welcomed” – is a game changer for Microsoft. It’s not just about bringing diverse talent into the company, but it’s about having a culture where everybody feels that they can be included and they can belong.

Glassdoor: Looking ahead to 2019, what trends are you and Microsoft keeping an eye on?

Kevin Peesker: One of the biggest trends we are seeing is the changing nature of work given the innovations in technology. The World Economic Forum predicts that 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms. If you think about certain roles today — cognitive data scientist, machine learning engineer — many of those roles didn’t exist 10 years ago and not only did they not exist, we hadn’t even imagined what they could be.  We believe it will be the same in 10 years from now.  Furthermore, by 2021, ICTC projects that Canada will have more than 200,000 vacancies in digital talent. For this reason, developing digital skills is more important than ever. I am not speaking about coders or programmers, the shift is every role being impacted by digital and possessing an awareness of technical & data infused possibility will be fundamental to making an impact.

Another trend is around how people work. Increasingly the workforce is becoming more mobile and employees want to work how and where they do their best work. Having the correct work environments and technology that fosters collaboration and supports a mobile workforce is more important than ever.

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