With more than twenty years as part of the Microsoft partner ecosystem, Jody Wharton shares her positive experiences there as a working mum of three. In her busy role as Senior Azure Infrastructure Specialist, which she has held for the past 18 months, Jody helps Banking and Capital Markets customers solve technical and business challenges using the benefits of Microsoft Azure – all while balancing the demands of her family at home during the pandemic.
Jody believes in the positive benefits of “showing your children that working hard and being committed is part of life”, but also recognizes that it is equally important to be there for them when it matters. Here she provides seven reasons why Microsoft and a career in tech can be the ideal environment for working mums.
1. Flexible working and paid parental leave
Jody accepted her role just before lockdown was announced in spring 2020. At first, she was worried her offer might be rescinded. As a mum of three, she was also concerned about how her family would manage the home-schooling/working-from-home juggle.
Happily, Microsoft were still keen for her to start, albeit remotely, and actively encouraged flexible working and paid parental leave, even for new starters. This made Jody realize she was working for a company that “really values its employees”. She also felt reassured that they “had an awareness and appreciation for the challenges parents were facing.” Wellness Days, which could be taken ad hoc throughout the year, have also helped offset the unprecedented pressure felt by everyone during the pandemic.
2. It’s not dog eat dog
Many people think of global corporations as being highly competitive and impersonal, but this couldn’t be further from Jody’s experience. In fact, for Jody, “its culture is its biggest asset” going as far as to say that she has “never worked anywhere so collaborative, open and genuinely ‘nice’.” It’s not at all the “dog eat dog or lone wolf sales culture” that many people expect. She says:
“As an organization, we strive for excellence and progress, but never at the expense of others.”
3. It’s the best in the industry
“I work with some of the best people in the industry and the bar is continually being set higher and higher.”
But rather than feeling under pressure to perform, Jody says “the growth mindset culture, and failure not being seen as failure” helps her feel supported and motivated to succeed. “ Mistakes are not criticized but used as an opportunity to reflect and learn,” so there’s never the fear of failure limiting your growth. “The shares and incentives help, too!”
4. There’s always someone willing to help
As we know, so often a job is made by the team you’re in and Jody has found everyone at Microsoft to be “collaborative, supportive and welcoming – not at all what you’d expect from a global corporate organization!”
Across the business, working within various virtual teams, Jody “loves the people she works with and values the way we come together to achieve customer success.” She appreciates “the team mentality” and if there’s something she doesn’t know how to do, or doesn’t have time for, “there’s always someone who is willing to lean in.” Networking and having contacts and allies in all areas of the business really makes things easier and “getting support, ideas and help from other areas really helps to make you feel like a true Microsoft employee.”
5. Celebration and encouragement
Through awards, shout outs at team meetings and ‘Cheers for Peers’, recognition for good work is given across the business. But it’s not just for sales and revenue:
“Recognition is given for ideas, trying new things, sharing and learning from each other. Or just to show your appreciation for colleagues that go above and beyond.”
Jody has received a number of awards which has been “an incredible honor, especially as I am surrounded by remarkable colleagues who work unbelievably hard and deliver outstanding results.”
6. They’re making the world a better place
The moral reputation of many global corporations can often be under question, but Jody is proud of the “innovation and investments Microsoft is making in so many areas to make the world a better place.” Microsoft supports and has become involved in a wide range of worldwide causes, from the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (the COP26), sustainability commitments, and global support for healthcare and pharmaceutical companies responding to COVID-19.
7. Setting the standards in diversity and inclusion
Making it possible for all people to work in traditionally white male industries is obviously hugely important right now. At Microsoft, Jody is proud that
“D&I is embraced as an opportunity rather than a ‘must-do’ and they are helping set the standard in the industry.”
Jody herself came to her career in a less conventional way, “dropping out of her A-Levels and starting work at seventeen.” She says, “ Most people think you have to have a degree to be successful in a great company” but that just isn’t true. Jody just goes to show that you can get ahead and have a thriving professional life whatever your background or experience, and she’s excited to show the next generation of women that you can absolutely rise to the top in tech.