There are two types of people in this world: Those who don’t help others, and those who go out of their way to do exactly that. When tourists ask for directions, a person can’t reach a supermarket shelf or someone needs help crossing the street, they jump at the opportunity.
Meet Brian Melton and Genevieve Alvarez, two Microsoft employees who love to help others — approximately a billion of them, every day.
“I enjoy helping people,” says Alvarez, a video producer for the Modern Assistance and Support Experience (MAX for short) team, walking in developer’s shoes everyday while creating samples and solutions for Microsoft platforms and technologies. “I come to work every day and think about the fact that I’m working for an organization who creates products that are touched, seen and worked on by roughly one-sixth of the planet. That’s incredible to think about.”
Melton, meanwhile, is involved with Developer Evangelism for MAX. Working with open source around Office Extensibility, he produces content, documentation and sample applications that help ISVs developing on top of the Office platform.
“I wake up, and I am ecstatic to come to work,” he explains. “I’m really excited to learn from people and produce exciting, educational content. I like to make stuff that if I was looking for help or trying to learn something — I try to make the thing that I would want. I’m excited by that prospect; for me, there’s an intangible bar of quality that I strive to hit in what I make.”
They both came to Microsoft in round-about ways. Alvarez takes pride in her journalism background, where she worked at a newspaper, while Melton began his career creating a tablet textbook app for K-12 students. These days, they’re both part of the MAX group, contributing their life experiences to a diverse, supportive environment.
“I aspire to bring the kind of energy to my team that she seems to bring to hers in the workplace,” Melton observes. “She strikes me as somebody who is very passionate; we both bring something outside of just computing to Microsoft.”
Every day, Melton is in constant contact with open-source users — offering support that collectively improves the user experience. “I sincerely enjoy interfacing with external developers: I think it’s the best part of my job,” beams Melton with pride. “Our developer-customers often have fantastically useful feedback that we can leverage to drive quality, improvement, and competitive advantage in our tools, products, and samples.”
Similarly, Alvarez’s daily efforts empower others. “When customers are using Office and find themselves needing help with a task, we want them to be able to find the answers quickly and efficiently so they can get back to being productive,” she says of the how-to videos and animations she creates that are paired with step-by-step support articles for use by millions of Office customers. “Providing highly-produced visual content to assist customers in getting their jobs done is really gratifying.”
Such gratification is a result of the company’s daily focus on its core value propositions. Each employee is given the reach, inspiration and freedom to drive a true impact within Microsoft.
“I have felt tremendously empowered,” Melton says of his career with Microsoft. “Creativity in problem-solving is something that’s celebrated and encouraged. Inventing tomorrow means thinking outside the box — sometimes, even throwing out the box.”
In her former life, Alvarez was a video journalist at a newspaper; nowadays she employs many of the same tools, but has gone from someone who informs to someone who empowers. “I felt it was time to grow in a different direction and seek out new challenges. However, I didn’t want to give up on my passion for video and storytelling,” she reasons. “Now as a member of the MAX video team, I continue to have a career in storytelling, just a different kind of story.”
Melton, meanwhile, admits that he grew up not realizing the effect that two parents working in a Northern Virginia school system had on him. “When I first got into this, my interest was purely in computing; like every other developer out there, I just wanted to be really good,” he laughs. “What I’ve found is by moving out of strictly product engineering and into a place where I could instruct and educate, I’ve discovered that it’s so rewarding, and that’s something I wouldn’t have found prior to taking this job at Microsoft. This has been a process of self-discovery.”
But just because the two of them enjoy helping others, it doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy some benefits for themselves.
“There are a number of opportunities that make this a great place to work, from high-profile speakers and authors with the MSR Speaker Series, to an online training course about time management, to our extensive library that delivers books right to your office to, yes, cooking classes,” Alvarez explains with a smile. “Also, free coffee.”
“If you love technology, inventing, and changing the lives of others you have a place at Microsoft,” Melton says of the company he joined a little bit over a year ago. “I saw a place for me here. I saw a place where my skills could grow, my interests could evolve, and I could work alongside some of the best in the industry.”
When you work alongside the best, it seems, you also get to play with them. “The benefit of getting to dump a bucket of ice on the CEO’s head my second week at Microsoft was pretty epic,” Alvarez marvels.
The company has offered Alvarez and Melton a truly unique experience that combines such perks in a supportive environment with the opportunity to impact the lives of so many.
“I don’t come to work seeing barriers that need to be broken down; I see a system here to empower customers, delight people, and make the world a better place,” says Melton, happy to be a part of that process. “How do we work for change? How do we empower people to be more productive and capable than ever before? I’m inspired by those things. I’m excited by the promise of the future; I’m excited to play a part in building it”
‘Now is the most exciting time to be working for Microsoft.’
“We have a customer reach of over a billion people,” Alvarez says. “When I arrived here, I can’t count how many times people who had been here for several years walked up to me and said ‘Now is the most exciting time to be working for Microsoft.’ I really took that to heart … things are unfolding here, innovative things, creative things. Being a part of that has me looking forward to the future.”
“Microsoft appealed to me because we’re innovating in many different spaces of computing: Office productivity, artificial intelligence, gaming, augmented reality, cloud computing, the list goes on,” says Melton. “If you like solving interesting problems, interacting with and learning from world-class engineers, and making real measurable differences in customers’ lives, you’ll love it here.”
If you are ready to be one who empowers billions, learn more about opportunities with Microsoft MAX, here.