Visiting MS

I am at the Seattle Tacoma Airport waiting to get back to the UK. As I said in a previous post, I came to Seattle for a short visit. The reason?… An interview with Microsoft.

I’ve already mentioned that I was planning to move on from Newcastle and that I was looking for new opportunities. I wasn’t planning to write anything about what I was doing towards that goal until I had something concrete. However, yesterday’s experience made me re-evaluate this. The interview process and the good time I had talking and then going out with some of the technology leaders of this world made me think that by not recording the experience I was losing the fun of the journey. After all, it’s the journey that mostly matters and not the destination. So, here it goes…

Few weeks ago I received an email from Don Box inviting me to consider a job with Microsoft. That by itself was very exciting. The process started and after two phone interviews (with Oliver Sharp and Chris Kaler) I was invited to fly for a day of interviews. Wow! What a day.

The day started really well, with Pam Shekell (Oliver’s recruiter) being really nice and explaining the entire process to me.

First interview? Don Box! We had an interesting discussion about technology, the team, various ideas, etc. and then moved on to solving problems. There, I blacked out; honestly. I came out of the interview not feeling great about myself (it wasn’t Don‘s fault… it was me not thinking properly and forgetting basic stuff… example… although not explicitly asked, I had to try and remember that a double is 8 bytes long!). BTW… Don apart from knowledgeable is a great guy as well. He made sure that the discussion continued despite my mental block. Anyway, I couldn’t have started worse.

After the first interview I was scheduled to meet Chris Sells who also took me out for lunch. Things started getting better from here (I think). After that I also talked to Alexander Mijalovic, Geoffrey Kizer, Doug Purdy, and then finally to Oliver Sharp.

I had the opportunity to talk a lot about SSDL and message-orientation, exchange ideas about architecture, problem solving, try to have a look into the future, and learn a lot about the culture within Microsoft. It’s great to see a team of people being passionate about technology and working together towards achieving a common goal. Thanks to all of you guys for the very interesting discussions. I learnt a lot during my visit there.


The observations above are my point-of-view and may differ significantly from those of my interviewers. Also, please note that I’ve decided to post this entry before I receive any feedback and find out whether I am going to be offered the post or not (I am sure Scoble would be proud of me :-). Most probably it’s the latter. Either way, I will blog about it but not as soon as I find out. I have some other opportunities that I am considering and will probably write about them when the time comes.

The day didn’t end at 17.30 though. I had arranged to meet up with Steve Maine with whom I’d been exchanging emails about technology stuff and constantly interrupting him over Messenger to ask about Indigo. It was a good thing that he recognised me since I didn’t know how he looked like. Steve organised a night out. Don Box, Chris Sells, and Martin Gudgin (who was around) also joined us. It was really great to meet Gudge too.

We went for sushi somewhere in Kirkland I believe. What a blast! The food was great and the discussions even better. I learnt so much about MS! It was also great to hang out with these guys. I’ve been following their work for so long now so I already knew how clever they all were but it was great to be able to socialise with them.

Had “ice cream with a song” as well :-) Thanks Don!

Steve, Chris, and I ended the night by going to the cinema to watch Kung Fu Hustle. Great movie if you like this kind of films! (even though I almost fell asleep at some point, not because of the film but because of the jetlag :-)

Today I took the opportunity to also visit Microsoft Research in order to catch up with Dan Fey.

Overall, it’s been a very educating trip and a fantastic experience. Many thanks to all the people involved. I seriously enjoyed it. I am sure our roads will cross again, sooner or later; at least I hope they will.

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