A round-table discussion by 3 women who are active on the front line.
What were your reasons to apply to Microsoft? How did they turn out when you actually joined the company?
Kayo M.: I wanted a place where I could test my possibilities to their limits – this was my #1 motivation. Plus, I just wanted to be a part of cutting-edge and large scale product developments in the industry leader Microsoft – this is all I was thinking when I decided to change my job.
Kyoko T.: I’m the same way. I couldn’t help the feeling “I want to get out of this comfortable birdcage!” and that feeling was growing every day, so I decided to change jobs. Microsoft happened to be having a major recruitment for consultants at that time, so I came here like I was sucked into it, so to speak (laugh).
Rie T.: Yes. I can also say I joined Microsoft because I was attracted to the exciting atmosphere – or the centripetal force - of the software industry’s massive male “Microsoft”. But nothing happens by just joining the company. Excitement doesn’t come to you unless you make your own moves and strive.
Kyoko T.: Exactly. A rewarding environment isn’t given to you, but it’s something you create yourself. I guess you can say “pave your own road!”
Kayo M.: When I first joined the company, it was like nothing happens unless you make your own moves. But on the other hand, I felt like the possibilities were endless if you look. For example, all you have to do is ask your superiors or colleagues without hesitation if you have a question – then you will be given more than enough information. The environment responds to your actions.
Kyoko T.: The bottom line is that we give each other our own know-how generously. Knowledge is shared, and the synergetic effect heightens the integral power as an organization. I think this may be what’s creating Microsoft’s unique strength.
Rie T.: “Things are not given to you” might be tough at first. But you seek, absorb, and keep improving your skills - once you have the knack and rhythm for moving business with your own discretion, you’ve got it. After that, you will be given more opportunities to shine than you will want (laugh).
When do you feel rewarded or joy at work?
Rie T.: I can say it’s definitely “rewarding”, but it is certainly not easy. It’s hard work with big responsibilities. If I’m asked “Can you feel rewarded without hard work?”, my immediate answer is “No”.
Kyoko T.: Customers’ demands are extremely high, and they demand higher solutions since “Microsoft can do better!”
Kayo M.: When you clear one challenge, more challenges will follow one after another, giving you no time to rest. But in the meantime, your own limit keeps rising, giving you a constant feeling of self growth.
Rie T.: Yes. Especially since sometimes speed is everything in our business. So we have to be in constant motion and keep overcoming issue after issue… This is a continuous stream of challenge – in other words, it’s a fight with your own possibilities. If you compromise, you won’t see the possibilities. So you keep running in order to heighten your capability.
Kyoko T.: Chairperson Bill Gates’ dream of “one computer on each desk!”, which was even called audacious back then, has become true for the most part. Constantly seeking the answer to “what should we fulfill next?” and keep running is not a hardship. On the contrary, my spirit of “nothing will stop me from realizing the next goal!” is outweighs it, and I’m constantly excited.
How do you spend your days off?
Kayo M.: I let my stress out with futsal during private time. I’m also a member of the company futsal team. Sweating from sports refreshes the exhausted body from work, helping me have a good night’s sleep, too.
Kyoko T.: I’m really into a pole dancing class.
Rie T.: What, that sexy stuff?!
Kyoko T.: People have the image of show dance, right? There is an element of presentation, but this pole dancing is for exercising purposes. In the 2 years since I started, my stiff shoulders are better and I’m less stressed, and I think my figure improved some, too. I actually want a pole installed in the house, but my husband is objecting to it (laugh).
Rie T.: I think for me it’s supporting my kids’ soccer. I used to play with them, but they improve so fast and I’m ceasing to be a match for them anymore. My husband is a stay-at-home dad, so playing with my three kids on my days off is when I can relax the most.
Kyoko T.: I try to take care of housework efficiently. Recent house appliances are quite advanced, so I’m fully utilizing their functions. For example, I do all the preparations for cooking on my day off and keep them in a large freezer. I also try to finish as much housework as possible before I leave for work on weekdays so that I can save time to communicate with my husband after I get home.
Kayo M.: I also often take care of housework before I leave home. It seems that everyone fully utilizes the flexible working time system, especially those who are married. I hear many companies have the system by name only, but here we don’t have to feel hesitant to use the system. The system fully functions in Microsoft.
Kyoko T.: Yes. The telecommuting system is also advanced, and it seems everyone, regardless of gender, is actively utilizing the child-care leave and nursing leave systems.
Rie T.: In Microsoft, systems are never names only. “Work-life balance” has been highly publicized lately, but it’s already well established here. Rather, I think each employee claims and exercises work-life balance as a normal right to fulfill their own lives.
What are your personal goals?
Kayo M.: I’m a part of the next Office quality assurance team, so I would like to master work to think and execute quality assurance strategies for the time being. I would like to live up to the position of a playing manager while considering a position as a manager down the road.
Kyoko T.: What’s good about Microsoft is that you can go back and forth between both careers of engineer and manager. I would also like to go back and forth between both, rather than deciding on one, and move up while doing so. Another one of my goals is to nurture young engineers. I also want children, so I would like to actively utilize and pioneer the child-support program and telecommuting system, etc. to lead the field.
Rie T.: I’m hoping to lead creating an even better environment for employees by working with various people beyond organizational walls. My work is already very rewarding, so I would like to aim for building even nicer work environments in the future. We never know what the future holds for us. I want to support the materialization of various policies, picturing everyone feeling “I’m so glad I work for Microsoft!” when something unexpected does happen.
Finally, can we have a word for applicants for Microsoft?
Kayo M.: Here in Microsoft, a lot of things are left to the discretion of individuals. Your work also has a large impact on the world, and its impact further spreads globally. If you assert what you want to achieve, the environment to make it happen will follow. So please accomplish your self-realization here.
Kyoko T.: This is definitely not an easy company, but it’s a fun company. Please try and give it your best.
Rie T.: There is no other company that counts on the potentials of individuals like Microsoft. Once you join, there will be numerous events that make you think “I never knew I could do something like this” or “I never knew this kind of business is possible”. And what’s most rewarding is that the company will keep looking at the possibilities of individuals throughout their lives. This is exactly why we can keep having pure dreams forever. If you are interested, do knock on our door. I sincerely look forward to working with you in the future.