Who is Lisa Brummel

Lisa Brummel: Interview with the Microsoft career woman

The prerequisite: passion for technology

UNICUM: Microsoft was named the best employer worldwide by the Great Place to Work Institute. What makes working at Microsoft so special?
Lisa Brummel: Especially our employees. They are passionate and very interested in what we do. We have replicated this corporate culture worldwide. That was the real challenge. Whenever we open new locations - like here in Germany - we hire people who share this passion.

Is Microsoft looking for people with the same qualifications in all countries?
There are core competencies that we require. On the technical side, these are programming skills and the ability to solve problems quickly and create something productive for the end user. We are looking for people who would like to work for Microsoft. People who want to get to know the entire breadth of our company and our technologies. It is the same in all countries.

Is it difficult to find the right people?
It's not difficult to find people who want to work for us. The challenge is to find people who jump the bar in terms of passion, intelligence, drive, and problem-solving understanding. Our requirement profile is high. The trick is to choose those who meet our standards.

Do you have to be a geek to work at Microsoft?
I'll start with myself: I have nothing to do with IT and have been working here for 22 years. I think you just have to have a passion for technology. There is no way around it. If you're not a technician like me, then it’s a little harder because you have to figure out how to approach technicians so that they understand what’s good for customers.

"The younger generation wants to make a lasting impression"

In your opinion, what attracts beginners: money or additional benefits?
Neither nor. People strive for opportunities. Money and benefits are thrown at their feet to get their attention. But if you ask them what they really want, it's opportunities: opportunities to grow. Opportunities to move the market. The younger generation in particular wants to make a lasting impression. So it doesn't depend on money or fringe benefits at all - we pay both anyway, like many other companies. It depends on what they can do while they are employed by the company. You need to feel like you are doing something meaningful.

German applicants want an optimal work-life balance. How is Microsoft satisfying this wish?
Above all, we want to create a flexible working environment. The great thing about Microsoft is that we have great technology that connects people. You don't have to come to the office every day to get work done. We want to be an open employer that is responsive to the needs of its employees. With our technology, we are doing better year after year. That should continue to improve now that we've taken over Skype.

Can a German applicant expect to have an international career at Microsoft?
Absolutely. We support employees in being mobile and getting to know different markets. We want to share their talent globally - from the USA to Germany, from Germany to Singapore and so on. If possible, our employees should work in several countries. Our global company philosophy makes this easier, of course.

How long does it take on average to get your first promotion?
For an entry-level job, it usually takes between one and three years. But that's not the point. For us it is important that employees learn something in each of their stations. This will get you much further in the long run. If someone does not initially have the necessary tools or does not have the opportunity to distinguish themselves, it takes a little longer.

Finally, a question about Microsoft's technologies. How important is the wireless business for the company?
Very important. Everyone in the world has a cell phone. The cell phone will become the central device for many people in the near future. It is therefore very important to further develop smartphone technology.

Is the new user interface called Metro-UI, which can be found on Windows Phone 7, Windows 8 and soon also on the XBOX 360, a step in that direction?
We know that we have to provide the end user with a consistent user experience. We can't know where someone will enter the Microsoft world: on their mobile phones, televisions or PCs? Our goal is to ensure that end users can get in anywhere, depending on the circumstances and devices that the customer has. The Metro UI not only looks good, it also runs through all devices and thus creates a uniform, simple user experience across device boundaries.


Lisa E. Brummel studied sociology at Yale and then did her MBA at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1989 she came to Microsoft in Redmond, where she has held various managerial positions since then. Since May 2005 she has been head of Human Resources.


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