In their words

Editor’s note:
On the eve of the Microsoft College Tour, PressPass asked for graduates from the schools that chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie is visiting to talk about their experiences in college and at Microsoft.

Kolby Hoover loves tackling new, difficult challenges.
  • What did you study at Cornell, and why? I studied mechanical engineering (B.S. ’07) and systems engineering (MEng ’08) at Cornell. I love solving difficult and technical problems. Mechanical engineering was great for learning how to break complicated problems into smaller, solvable problems. The mechanical space while being creative is also very tangible. When I started taking some systems engineering courses during my master’s degree, I realized that systems engineering scoped to the engineering project as a whole. It was fun to start at an even higher elevation of problem solving. I liked this bigger picture of design, and the creative space was opened up to all disciplines.

  • What you are doing at Microsoft now? I’m a program manager for Microsoft SharePoint Designer — a team within Microsoft Office. I have ownership of the shell (user interface and user experience) and some workflow based features.

  • What is a typical day like for you? Every day is different. Last Thursday we released Windows 7 and opened the first Microsoft Store. Although I’m not on the Windows team, I wore a party hat that day (Win7 is awesome!). Some days I get to wear my project management hat that I began to develop during systems engineering classes and managing part of the Automotive X-Prize team at Cornell. Other days I’m wearing my thinking hat, opening my mind and dreaming of the questions and problems that we’ll need to tackle in Office 15. Recently I’ve been wearing my triage hat a lot – “scrubbing” bugs that our testers are finding in our user experience pillar. The triage hat has been something I’ve only began developing here. It’s tough to wear, but it’s also one of the most valuable to a team that’s going to succeed. This morning I just finished off writing a blog (wearing my customer hat and my evangelist hat and my party hat, all at the same time). Later today I will put on my learning hat and my designing hat as I look to build my first Silverlight app to display information in a new and exciting way on one of my SharePoint sites. I enjoy working with people, and my communication hat is on most of the time. My job is great because it is different every day. I work on tough problems and use my spectrum of skills (or hats) to make a direct impact on SharePoint and our customers.

  • What global problem do you hope will be solved by technology in the near future? I hope for many global problems to be solved – but here’s two I’ll mention: Transportation, and senses overload. The first is easy to explain – we as humans move lots, and use lots of non-replenishable energy to do so. The second is harder – we are consumed with “too much.” Technology has made communication of ideas, voices, learning and entertainment so easy to get that we’re overloaded, strained, tired, and overwhelmed as a society. The next big thing in technology is what will boil information down into a peaceful, helpful, and manageable amount. I know that Microsoft is driving toward solutions for this and many other global problems.

  • Why is Microsoft a worthy employment objective for grads? Microsoft is more than any grad can ask for. Pay, benefits, challenges, learning, solutions, opportunities, and successes abound at Microsoft. My impact even within my first few months was directly translated to tens of thousands of users. You could have that kind of impact, too.

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