I started my career in technology at a company called Digital Equipment Corporation 30 years ago and never looked back. I was, and still am, inspired by the smart people I work with, and continue to be hooked on working in an environment where anything is possible.
Microsoft is the fourth technology company I’ve worked at and I’ve held 15 different roles. In my role as Director of Premier Field Engineering in UK Customer Services and Support, I lead a team of 120 technical consultants. Their job is to help customers maintain their computer systems and configure software. They do this by training customers, visiting them in their offices and helping them make good decisions on how to use technology. Our customers are big businesses that manage computer systems that thousands of people use.
Number of Microsoft employees: 112,689
Engineering – 44.8%
Sales and Marketing Support Group – 48.6%
Finance, HR & Legal – 4.5%
Business Functions – 2.1%
I love working in technology. I love the passion that technologists have for what they do and I love working in an industry where we can truly help people and businesses to thrive. Anything is possible. Through working in the technology sector, I have achieved and experienced so much more, both professionally and personally, than I ever thought possible when I was growing up on a farm in Hampshire.
I enjoy taking the opportunity to share my tech experiences with anyone who will listen. I particularly welcome the opportunity to talk to young people who are thinking about career choices. I love encouraging them to look at the technology sector as a potential career path, demystifying what it’s like working in the area and sharing the possibilities of what a career may bring.
The DigiGirlz event, which gives high school girls an in-depth look at Microsoft and careers in technology, is a great chance to learn about careers in the sector. It’s also fun getting your hands on technology and hearing about what it is like to work in at Microsoft.
I’m passionate about diversity in all forms, and particularly around bringing more females into our organisation for three primary reasons: To reflect the male/female ratio of our customers – consumers and businesses; to ensure we are recruiting the brightest and best – recognizing that females outperform males in education; and to have the diversity of thought around us to inform and shape our decisions.
I try to lead by example by creating an environment where hiring and retaining a diverse workforce is not only encouraged, but is a priority. Personally, I am a supporter of targets for diverse hiring – not to drive a scorecard adherence mentality, but to help create the environment to define strategies that inform and change the way we think, pilot new ideas and create an aspiration do better. I’ve seen this work very well in UK CSS, where we have hired a higher percentage of females this current fiscal year than ever before.
I am proud to work in an organisation in which we have an authentic desire to create a more diverse workforce.
Debbie Kneller is Director of Premier Field Engineering in UK Customer Services and Support at Microsoft