Tag Archives: challenges

Microsoft for Startups and NVIDIA Inception join forces to accelerate AI startups | Blog

Startups, especially in the AI space, have a multitude of unique, daily challenges, from selecting the right technology systems to improving their algorithms to building a robust sales pipeline.

That’s why today at Slush we announced that we are teaming with NVIDIA to give cutting-edge startups developing AI technologies fewer things to worry about by providing them preferred access to the Microsoft for Startups and NVIDIA Inception programs. Now, eligible startups active in our respective programs can receive preferred access and reciprocal benefits, including free or discounted technology, go-to-market support and access to technical experts.

NVIDIA Logo

Eligible NVIDIA Inception AI startups can access Microsoft for Startups’ premium offer, providing:

· Free access to Microsoft technologies, including up to $120k of free Azure cloud.

· Dedicated go-to-market resources to help startups sell alongside our global sales teams and partner channel.

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Eligible Microsoft for Startups AI members can access NVIDIA Inception benefits including:

· Free credits for NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute online courses, such as the Fundamentals of Deep Learning for Computer Vision, Accelerating Data Science, and Image Classification.

· Access to go-to-market NVIDIA Inception Connect events and marketing support.

· Unlimited access to DevTalk—a forum built for technical inquiries and community engagement.

· Guidance on which GPU applications and hardware are best suited for your needs.

· Discounts on NVIDIA DGX systems, NVIDIA GPU accelerators, NVIDIA Quadro pro graphics, and NVIDIA TITAN GPUs for deep learning.

This partnership will allow us to accelerate AI startups with NVIDIA’s deep technical expertise and market-leading GPU technology on Microsoft Azure, combined with both companies’ ability to connect startups with customers.

Launched in February 2018, Microsoft for Startups is a comprehensive global program designed to support startups as they build and scale their companies. Since we launched, companies active with Microsoft for Startups are on track to drive $1B in pipeline opportunity by the end of 2020. To find out more about the Microsoft for Startups and to apply for the program, click here.

NVIDIA Inception is a virtual accelerator program that supports startups harnessing GPUs for AI and data science applications during critical stages of product development, prototyping and deployment. Since its launch in 2016, the program has expanded to over 5,000 companies. To find out more about NVIDIA Inception, click here.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Forus Health uses AI to help eradicate preventable blindness – AI for Business

Big problems, shared solutions

Tackling global challenges has been the focus of many health data consortiums that Microsoft is enabling. The Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE) – the initiative that Chandrasekhar read about – is now part of the Microsoft AI Network for Healthcare, which also includes consortiums focused on cardiology and pathology.

For all three, Microsoft’s aim is to play a supporting role to help doctors and researchers find ways to improve health care using AI and machine learning.

“The health care providers are the experts,” said Prashant Gupta, Program Director in Azure Global Engineering. “We are the enabler. We are empowering these health care consortiums to build new things that will help with the last mile.”

In the Forus Health project, that “last mile” started by ensuring image quality. When members of the consortium began doing research on what was needed in the eyecare space, Forus Health was already taking the 3nethra classic to villages to scan hundreds of villagers in a day. But because the images were being captured by minimally trained technicians in areas open to sunlight, close to 20% of the images were not high quality enough to be used for diagnostic purposes.

“If you have bad images, the whole process is crude and wasteful,” Gupta said. “So we realized that before we start to understand disease markers, we have to solve the image quality problem.”

Now, an image quality algorithm immediately alerts the technician when an image needs to be retaken.

The same thought process applies to the cardiology and pathology consortiums. The goal is to see what problems exist, then find ways to use technology to help solve them.

“Once you have that larger shared goal, when you have partners coming together, it’s not just about your own efficiency and goals; it’s more about social impact,” Gupta said.

And the highest level of social impact comes through collaboration, both within the consortiums themselves and when working with organizations such as Forus Health who take that technology out into the world.

Chandrasekhar said he is eager to see what comes next.

“Even though it’s early, the impact in the next five to 10 years can be phenomenal,” he said. “I appreciated that we were seen as an equal partner by Microsoft, not just a small company. It gave us a lot of satisfaction that we are respected for what we are doing.”

Top image: Forus Health’s 3nethra classic is an eye-scanning device that can be attached to the back of a moped and transported to remote locations. Photo by Microsoft. 

Leah Culler edits Microsoft’s AI for Business and Technology blog.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Beyond overhead: What drives donor support in the digital era – Microsoft on the Issues

One of the greatest challenges to running a successful nonprofit organization has always been that donors look at nonprofits’ stewardship of funds as a primary way to assess impact. While there is no doubt that nonprofits must use donor funds responsibly, tracking to see if a nonprofit maintains the highest possible ratio of spending on programs-to spending on overhead is a poor proxy for understanding how effective a nonprofit truly is. In fact, the imperative to limit overhead has forced many organizations to underinvest in efforts to improve efficiency. Ironically, this has long prevented nonprofits from utilizing innovative digital technologies that could help them be more efficient and effective.

Now more than ever, cloud-based technology can have a transformative effect on how nonprofit organizations increase impact and reduce costs. The same technologies that give for-profit businesses insights about customers and markets, create operational efficiencies and speed up innovation can also help nonprofits target donors and raise funds more strategically, design and deliver programming more efficiently, and connect field teams with headquarters more effectively. This means smart investments in digital tools are essential to every nonprofit’s ability to make progress toward its mission.

The good news is that a major shift is underway. As part of our work at Microsoft Tech for Social Impact to understand how nonprofits can use technology to drive progress and demonstrate impact, we recently surveyed 2,200 donors, volunteers and funding decision-makers to learn how they decide which organizations to support, what their expectations are for efficiency and effectiveness, and how they feel about funding technology infrastructure at the nonprofits they support.

The results, which we published recently in the white paper “Beyond overhead: Donor expectations for driving impact with technology,” make clear that people donate to organizations they trust and that donors are increasingly looking at data beyond the ratio of program spending to overhead spending to measure impact. We also found that those who support nonprofits now overwhelmingly recognize the critical role technology plays in driving impact and delivering value. Nearly four out of five supporters (which includes both donors and volunteers) and more than nine out of 10 funding decision-makers told us they support directing donations to improve technology at a nonprofit. An overwhelming majority — 85 percent of supporters and 95 percent of funding decision-makers — are more likely to contribute to organizations that can show that they are using technology to improve how it runs programs.

At the same time, the survey found that most people expect organizations to use donations more efficiently and to advance the causes they work for more effectively than in the past. Among supporters, for example, 79 percent believe nonprofits should be better at maximizing funding than they were 10 years ago. Just over 80 percent of funding decision-makers believe nonprofits should be more effective at achieving their goals and advancing the causes they work for now than in the past.

To give you a better sense of what potential donors are looking for as they consider where to target their nonprofit contributions and how much they weigh technology into their thinking, we have developed a tool using Power BI so you can look at the data in greater detail. Within the tool, you can see how people responded to questions about overall effectiveness and efficiency, the importance of technology as a driver of success, how likely they are to support organizations that use technology to demonstrate impact, and their willingness to fund technology improvements at the nonprofits they support.

To make the tool as useful as possible for your organization, you can sort the data by supporters and funding decision-makers, and you can explore how responses varied by region. As you move through the data, you will see how these critical groups of supporters and funders think about these important questions in the region where your organization operates:

The ultimate goal of this survey was to get a clearer picture of what motivates people to contribute to an organization and how technology can help nonprofits meet supporters’ expectations. Overall, I believe our research provides some important insights that can help any organization be more successful. Fundamentally, we found that people donate to organizations that are perceived to be trustworthy, and that trust is achieved though operational transparency and effective communications. More than ever before, donors recognize that using data to measure and demonstrate impact is the foundation for trust.

I encourage you to read the full report and learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to support nonprofits.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

IFS, Acumatica take aim at top-tier ERP vendors — together

The not-quite-merger between IFS AB and Acumatica Inc. could result in a coalition that challenges top tier ERP vendors.

The two ERP vendors became corporate siblings in June when IFS’s owner, EQT Partners, acquired Acumatica. IFS board chairman Jonas Persson is expected to be chairman of both companies, but they will operate independently, according to Darren Roos, IFS CEO. Roos will serve on the Acumatica board.

IFS and Acumatica both sell manufacturing ERP products, but they serve different markets, which will lead to collaboration opportunities, according to Roos. The companies will not compete for the same customers.

Darren Roos, CEO, IFSDarren Roos

“There are loads of areas where IFS can bring value to Acumatica customers, and vice versa,” Roos said. “It’s a case of trying to sustain the growth in each of the businesses separately, while leveraging those opportunities to help each other.”

Based in Linkoping, Sweden, IFS targets large enterprises, with customers primarily in the aerospace and defense, energy and utilities, manufacturing, construction and services industries. Acumatica, based in Seattle, is a cloud-first ERP that targets mid-market companies. IFS is strongest in Europe and has a growing presence in North America, according to Roos.

Although Acumatica is about ten times smaller than IFS, each company can take advantage of the other’s strengths to grow and improve their products, according to Jon Roskill, Acumatica CEO. On the business side, IFS uses a direct sales approach while Acumatica sells through a value-added reseller channel network, Roskill explained. Acumatica can use IFS’s direct salesforce to expand into Europe, and IFS can use the Acumatica channel to grow its North American presence.

“In technology [Acumatica is] strong in cloud and cloud interfaces, and IFS is accelerating in that direction, so that’s a place where they can leverage some of Acumatica’s skills,” Roskill said. “IFS has a robust set of technologies in manufacturing and field service that are localized to many countries, so we think we can take some of that technology back to Acumatica.”

Sharing is good

Sharing resources makes sense for both companies, and the two companies are not likely to step on each other’s toes competitively, according to Cindy Jutras, president of Mint Jutras, an ERP analysis firm based in Windham, N.H.

“This is more about Acumatica than IFS. I don’t see a lot of overlap in target markets, but I think there will be some synergies here,” Jutras said. “IFS already has a strong solution in their target market — asset-intensive industries — which is not overly broad.”

Acumatica’s cloud-first origins should help IFS broaden its cloud deployment efforts, an area where it was relatively weak compared to some competitors, Jutras explained.

“As a cloud pioneer, Acumatica has developed a strong, scalable business model, while IFS lags behind many of its competitors in moving from [on-premises] solutions to delivering software as a service,” Jutras said in an analysis she wrote. “In this sense, IFS stands to gain more from Acumatica.”

Acumatica adds Phocas BI

Acumatica has added functionality through partnerships with independent software vendors (ISVs), and according to Roskill, there are more than 150 ISVs that have built integrations into Acumatica’s ERP platform. These include DocuSign for digital contract management and Smartsheet for collaborative workflow management, as well as Microsoft Power BI and Tableau for business intelligence (BI).

Acumatica recently added more BI capabilities via a partnership with Phocas Software, a cloud-based BI application designed specifically for manufacturing.

Jon Roskill, CEO, AcumaticaJon Roskill

Roskill described the Phocas partnership as a good fit for Acumatica because the two companies are aimed at a similar mid-market manufacturing base. Acumatica already has partnerships with some of the larger, more well-known BI platforms including Microsoft Power BI and Tableau, but Roskill said Phocas’ ease of use is an important factor for mid-market companies that may not be able to afford data analysts.

“You can do almost anything with Tableau, but you’ve got to put a lot of emphasis into your expertise,” he said. “The difference with Phocas is that it gets very specific manufacturing and distribution oriented analytics and lets you tune that out of the box.”

The goal of Phocas’ BI software is to take industry-specific data from ERP systems like Acumatica and “make it consumable for business professionals so they can make better data-driven decisions,” according to Jay Deubler, president of Phocas’ U.S. division.

“We’ve aligned ourselves with Acumatica, which is an ERP provider, for what we would call our perfect prospect profile in the mid-market business,” Deubler said. “Because we now have a pre-written integration, the implementation becomes much easier and less expensive for customers.”

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How HR can help with a digital divide in the U.S.

Technology is often a solution to modern HR challenges, but HR executive Robin Schooling was quick to point out that tech can also be a problem for employees without equal access or related skills.

For example, according to a Purdue University report released earlier this year, “Job and establishment growth between 2010 and 2015 was substantially lower in [U.S.] counties with the highest digital divide.”

Schooling, who is vice president of HR at Hollywood Casino in Baton Rouge, La., will speak about the digital divide in the U.S. at the forthcoming HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas. SearchHRSoftware is the media partner for the conference.

In a preview of her remarks, Schooling outlined the challenges and explained why her three-person HR team sometimes takes an old-school, hands-on approach to everything from training to benefits enrollment.

This interview was edited lightly for brevity and clarity.

When you talk about the digital divide in the U.S., what do you mean?

Robin Schooling: The tendency is to think, as we automate more and more things, that people and job seekers are just going to go right along with all of it. We think that all job seekers or employees have the same level of technology at their disposal. We think the knowledge base is there and that they have the sophistication to go along with the online journey, from job searching to applying for jobs to the onboarding programs. And then, once they’re in-house, they’re ready for any online training.

Robin Schooling, vice president of HR, Hollywood CasinoRobin Schooling

We’re sort of assuming everybody in the workforce is at a desk in a high-rise and that technical knowledge is at [their] disposal. There is an entire group of workers and industries that I fear are getting left further and further behind. It’s the technology haves and have-nots.

How does email play into the digital divide in the U.S.?

Schooling: In my particular world, I have less than 20% of my employees who have work email or access to network drives. They are not at a desk; they are on the floor in front of customers, and they don’t use technology day to day in their jobs. So, they don’t have company email addresses.

If you go back further, a lot of my job applicants don’t have personal email addresses. I probably have, on average, two people a week we talk to who apply for a job using somebody else’s email address. We discover when get hold of them they never got our email and that the person whose email address they used ‘didn’t let me know it came.’ Or, people make up email addresses.

As we talk to people, we find out there truly are people who just don’t have email. It’s not an age thing. I see people who are 22, and I see people who are 70. We get a lot of calls.

[When we get a resume emailed to us,] we have auto reply, but sometimes it goes to a spam folder, and they don’t know how to check a spam folder. We have applicants who don’t have desktops or tablets. Their phone is it. And they don’t know how to navigate email addresses even if they have email. Instead, we get a lot of calls. It’s like 1989.

So, we’ve tried things with texting. We’ve tried a cellphone call. But it gets back to the low-wage, entry-level worker with a pay-as-you-go phone. They tried to apply, but we can’t reach them on it. It’s a challenge. I don’t know the answer to the problem. But we have to look at finding multiple ways to connect with people on the applicant side.

There’s a digital divide in the U.S., but change has to start somewhere. What are you doing in the office to help the tech have-nots?

Schooling: As we have automated, we enhanced some of the offerings through the system we have for our employees, because we don’t have folks who sit at a desk. We can put things out in the cloud to our employee self-service portal, but we’re still struggling with employees getting access if they’re doing it through their phone.

We have banks of computers in the break room, but many employees have challenges accessing them. They don’t know how to use a keyboard or a mouse. That still exists. Everybody doesn’t work on the East or West Coasts, and we’re not all on Slack.

And it’s not just the tech providers [that contribute to the digital divide in the U.S.]; it’s the HR service providers. Every year since I’ve been here, as part of our wellness initiatives, we have a third party come in and do biometric screenings. You get a checkup and sit with a nurse practitioner who logs you in to your account. We do this so that we get you into this wellness tracker for follow-up steps. In order to do that, you have to set up your own account, and that requires an email address and two-factor authentication.

Here’s the challenge: I’ve got a good 30 employees that do not have a personal email address. They may have access to their mothers’ or their wives’ or their sisters’ [email addresses]. I told the vendor that people coming in can’t set up an account because they do not have a personal email, or they are using a family member’s [email] who is not there to do two-factor authentication. How do we do that? How do we serve those people? The provider didn’t quite believe me.

We know the people that don’t have email. How do we solve this? As an HR team, what we do for our population is we try to help people as much as we can to set up accounts. We spend quite a bit of time amongst the team going to Gmail to set up an account and set it up on their phone for them. We try to help them create passwords and show them how to remember where it’s stored. It’s a challenge to do this one-on-one to help our folks as much as we can, but I think it’s important.

In my particular world, I have less than 20% of my employees who have work email or access to network drives.
Robin Schoolingvice president of HR, Hollywood Casino

It’s like old-school HR. It’s very hands-on and in your face. If you have a small or midsize business and your workforce is all in one place, what you can do there is kind of what we do. It’s handholding and bringing along one person at a time. Sometimes, it’s even just stopping and asking: If we are going to communicate something or expect an employee to go to a website to accomplish something for a job, are they equipped to do that?

When we think about the digital divide in the U.S., what can be done to help narrow it?

Schooling: This is an issue that worries me. We are just getting further and further away from thinking about those people who need to find jobs or are working hard, but are sitting in companies that don’t realize that perhaps there are folks being left behind. These are people who can’t do a really cool learning module on their phone.

I have people that are not hipsters — they have a flip phone, but don’t have a data plan. And if there is Wi-Fi, they need to have someone show them how to hook up. They can’t sit at home and do onboarding videos or learning snippets.

At the end of the day, I’m thinking about it from [different] sides. Are the vendors remembering when creating products to include the whole audience? Are HR practitioners aware that you need to do more than meet them where they are, but actually bring them with you?

And it’s important to remember it’s not a generational thing. Some folks coming out of school, college grads even, find themselves in this boat. They come from low-income families, and they’ve gotten higher ed, but they struggle with the access to the tools and the tech and the knowledge of how to use them.

Meet Lucas Joppa, the man on a mission to save the planet by democratizing AI – Microsoft News Center India

Can mankind’s greatest technological advancements help solve the biggest ecological challenges facing planet earth? Can technology help accelerate biodiversity conservation? Can it predict global warming to reduce the potential impact? Can it help conserve fresh water? Can it help achieve global food security? These are some of the existential questions that have kept Lucas Joppa awake at night for more than a decade.

Today, as the first Chief Environmental Officer at Microsoft, Joppa leads AI for Earth, a five-year, $50 million global program that blends ecological science and cutting-edge AI to solve some of the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges. We caught up with him to learn more about the program, his experience with technology interventions for environmental advancement, and his vision of deploying AI to advance sustainability across the globe. Here are some edited excerpts from our conversation.

You’ve a PhD in Ecology and have worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi. This is not exactly a profile of someone who’d be working at a technology company. How did you decide to join Microsoft?

My educational background is in environmental studies. After completing my undergraduate degree in Wildlife Ecology, I spent time in the Peace Corps working for Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife. Then I did my PhD in Ecology. What all the work on the environment side taught me was just how serious environmental issues really are.

The science shows the seriousness of the issues, but the work also highlighted just how monumental the task is actually going to be, to find our way to sustainable solutions where the human species can exist in a more sustainable manner, with the rest of the life on earth. As soon as I began to truly realize the enormity of the challenge, I started panicking a little like everyone does. But it also got me thinking that there’s got to be some way to get out ahead.

I began to see that there was one thing that was accelerating exponentially and potentially even faster than the degradation of our planet’s natural resources. And that was technology. Thus, I decided to drive my career towards leveraging advances in technology to address the negative effects of human activities on rest of the life on Earth and started focusing on the computational aspects of ecology. I joined Microsoft Research to focus on and lead research programs at the intersection of environmental and computer science. What enthused me was that Microsoft, about a decade ago, had realized that this was where the real challenges were, both for society and the technology sector.

How did you transition to the role of the Chief Environmental Officer at Microsoft? How did the AI for Earth program come about?

I pursued research programs for about eight years at Microsoft Research. That experience prepared us to step back a couple of years ago and see the progress we had made in research from an environmental and technology perspective and how we could place it all the way into shipped products.

I put together all those learnings into one document, which I called “AI for Earth”. It laid out the opportunities I saw for Microsoft to really make a more concerted, company-wide effort, than simply a research program, to leverage our 35 years of ongoing investment in AI research and technology and focus all those efforts on the four key areas of agriculture, water, biodiversity, and climate change.

From my experience at Microsoft Research, we knew what the problems were, and we’d done enough on the technology front. So, it was time to put it into action. Last year, I left Microsoft Research and started serving as the company’s first Chief Environmental Scientist leading the AI for Earth program. That position recently expanded to Microsoft’s first Chief Environmental Officer, which allows me to oversee the whole environmental sustainability mission and mandate across the company.

When you want that job, tell them your story – Microsoft Life

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: I feel like my résumé doesn’t really show the real me. How can I help people looking at my resume get a better idea of who I am?

Answer: Humans have relied on storytelling forever to share their experiences and journeys and to connect with each other. Not only does storytelling pass along useful information, but it conveys emotion and helps uncover universal themes that others will relate to. And you can even use the power of storytelling in your job search.

“Your story should reflect your truth, your authentic self, and the great work you’ve done,” said Chris Bell, an executive recruiter at Microsoft. “We’ve all had life and professional experiences that have helped shape our unique perspective on the world and our personal impact.”

Storytelling is a skill in and of itself, he points out. “Through your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and interviews, your communication and selling skills are demonstrated. Plus, when you tell a story, you’re displaying your ability to create an emotional connection.”

Here are Bell’s top recommendations for how to use storytelling techniques at every checkpoint (i.e., résumé, LinkedIn profile, interview) of your job hunt.

Infuse your résumé with narrative

When writing your résumé, don’t rely on keywords and jargon to tell your story. Think of using your skills and background as a starting point and then creating a narrative, Bell said. Avoid speaking in shorthand and relying on sentence fragments.

For example, he often sees experience statements such as, “Drove benefit packages, negotiating multiple options for benefits at a cost reduction of 29 percent.”

“What does ‘drove benefit packages’ mean?” he asked. “Was this person the benefits administrator or the individual selling or selecting benefits packages?”

Take a look at his expanded example, which adds context and answers an interviewer’s potential follow-up questions at first glance:

“I was responsible for the company’s benefit package selection process that entailed driving the RFP process with five vendors. I led a collaborative team that negotiated a multi-option benefit package that exceeded our employees’ needs while reducing benefit spend by 29 percent.”

By telling the job highlights narratively and focusing on impact, job seekers avoid vagueness and open the gates for a deeper conversation about how they approach their work and why it’s successful.

Don’t over-focus on résumé length, Bell said. While the standard recommendation is two pages, Bell believes that focusing first on storytelling will ultimately lead to the most readable version of your résumé. “Write what’s relevant; people will read,” he said.

Tell a story with your LinkedIn profile

Don’t be afraid to show your personality and call out your professional identity with your LinkedIn profile, Bell said. One place you can do this is with your profile headline. Bell shows a bit of personality with his own headline: Definitely a Recruiter | Leader and Learn-It-All.

When crafting your headline, consider the role you seek, relevant keywords, the type of company you see yourself working at, your personal brand, and the story you’d like to tell. Bell calls out that his field is recruitment and that he’s a leader who’s constantly learning and finding ways to improve his craft.

Next, consider the Summary section, which gives people a deeper snapshot of who you are, where your passions lie, and what you bring to the table. This is also a space where you can link to other places online where recruiters and hiring managers can learn even more about you, such as social media platforms, a podcast you run, or a blog that you manage. Keep your bio succinct, personable, and relevant, and continue to create the narrative with first-person phrasing. Tell the story of who you are.

The Experience section of your LinkedIn profile allows you to be more granular about your goals, learnings, and successes in each role. Bell advises that you steer clear of the résumé format in this section and take this opportunity to tell the story.

For instance, rather than say “I managed five events each year,” connect the dots between the work you did and who you are. Here’s an example:

I love processes and data. Yes! I admit it. Plus, I enjoy taking opportunities to train others.

At A-Z Event Planning, I made it a personal goal to create event strategy processes to make my and my colleagues’ lives easier while making our clients’ smiles bigger. While my charter was to run five events per year, I also took it upon myself to use my forecasting experience to develop a more “on the nose” event performance dashboard to predict attendance rates. This allowed us to plan better and make cost-saving recommendations to our clients. I also created an “event in a box” program that we rolled out to our international offices. This not only simplified the overall company’s processes, it also led to consistent, industry-leading programming across the board.

I absolutely enjoyed this job because it allowed me to tap into my hidden talents and learn more about international event planning. Since I spearheaded the programs, I was also asked to train my colleagues across the country and internationally.

In this example, the job seeker showcases their personality, drive, and skillsets. You want readers to feel your passion, enthusiasm, and knack for getting the job done.

Tell your story in an interview

“Everyone should be able to tell their own story,” said Bell. “And it is important to practice.”

When you are asked “tell me about yourself,” this is the moment to tell your truth, but keep it focused on what’s relevant to the job. For example, this is not the moment to explain that you were raised on a farm with five siblings—unless your farming background is relevant to the job you seek (maybe the company you want to work for creates technology solutions for farmers); if so, by all means connect those dots.

Keep your answer under two minutes, he said, but offer details about key roles, learnings, and personal experiences that tie into the role that you seek. Try to use a narrative arc to show your evolution as an expert in your space and to explain how you’ve built on your experience to get you to this point. Again, practice makes perfect.

Also have a narrative ready for anything recruiters or hiring managers might zero in on, such as short stints in a role or gaps in employment. “In any interview, you want to come across as polished, not stumped or appearing as though you have something to hide,” Bell said.

A popular question to anticipate and approach through storytelling is, “Tell me about a time when you failed. How did you handle it?”

“People fail,” said Bell. “But, many people don’t have a cohesive story to explain the situation.”

As with any behavioral question, he suggests that job seekers use the STAR method to talk through their answer. To make the story more interesting and relevant, Bell suggests that you also explain what you learned and what you would have done differently.

Don’t treat your responses as answers, but as stories that support the idea that your unique experiences, passions, and drive make you the best person for the job.

Bring the whole story together

Bell said that through storytelling, you can make an emotional connection that helps position you as memorable and indispensable.

“The right words and experiences help convey your story in a way that emotionally connects with others,” said Bell. “Remember, this is your story.”

Building on experience: a framework for cybersecurity policy

Each year, more and more governments are developing policies to address security challenges presented by an increasingly digitized world. And to support those efforts, I’m excited today to announce the release of Microsoft’s new Cybersecurity Policy Framework, a resource for policymakers that provides an overview of the building blocks of effective cybersecurity policies and that is aligned with the best practices from around the globe. Nations coming online today, and building their cybersecurity infrastructures, should not—and need not—be burdened with the stumbling blocks that characterized previous generations of cybersecurity policies. Instead, such nations should be empowered to leapfrog outdated challenges and unnecessary hurdles.

For years, Microsoft has worked with policymakers in advanced and emerging economies, and across many social and political contexts, to support the development of policies to address a wide range of cybersecurity challenges. This new publication captures and distills the important lessons learned from those years of experience partnering with governments. And as increasing numbers of countries wrestle with how to best address cybersecurity challenges, the Cybersecurity Policy Framework is an indispensable resource for the policymakers joining this work.

According to the last analysis provided by the United Nations, half of the countries on earth today either have or are developing national cybersecurity strategies. I have little doubt that in the next decade every single outstanding country will add its name to that list. And this trend highlights the importance of this new resource. The policies established today will impact how technologies are used for years to come and how safe or dangerous the online world becomes for all of us. Truly, there is no going back, only forward.

The Cybersecurity Policy Framework is not one-stop shopping for cybersecurity policymakers, but it does serve as an important “umbrella document,” providing a high-level overview of concepts and priorities that must be top of mind when developing an effective and resilient cybersecurity policy environment.

Specifically, this new resource outlines:

  • National strategies for cybersecurity.
  • How to establish a national cyber agency.
  • How to develop and update cybercrime laws.
  • How to develop and update critical infrastructure protections.
  • International strategies for cybersecurity.

We at Microsoft have been at this work for a long time and have developed a wide variety of resources to help those who are working to position their industries and nations to capitalize on the benefits of new technologies—so many that they can often be difficult to find! And this highlights another strength of the Cybersecurity Policy Framework, while it is not one-stop shopping, each section does provide an overview of a critical policy topic as well as links to the associated and more in-depth resources my team has developed over the years to assist policymakers. In this way, this new resource serves not only as essential, high-level guidance, but also as a key to a broader catalogue of resources built on years of experience partnering with governments around the world.

Reading through this new resource, I am proud of the work we have done in pursuit of a safer online world. Important progress has been made and these foundational principles underscore much today’s cybersecurity discourse. However, we have—and will always have—more work to do as a result of the changes and innovations in technology always on the horizon, and their implications for cybersecurity. I’m glad to put this resource forward today to support a new generation of policymakers and also look forward to partnering with them to tackle the new challenges we will face together tomorrow.

Download your copy of the Cybersecurity Policy Framework today.

Don’t stop dreaming: you’ve got the job, now what? – Microsoft Life

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: I landed an exciting job. Now that I’m settling in, I don’t want to lose my momentum. What should I do to keep my career moving in a positive direction?

Answer: You’re right—your career is a moving target, so it’s a good idea to be open and willing to develop yourself for what lies ahead. Whether you’re new to the workforce or have been with a company for years, one role probably won’t be the end of your journey.

Microsoft recruiter Heidi Landex Grotkopp believes that developing your career can be an illuminating trip into self-discovery, skill development, and building strong relationships. Here are some of her top recommendations for staying sharp and ready for what’s next, whenever it might come.

Give yourself time to settle in

It can take about a year to get fully ramped up in any role, Landex pointed out. Before you begin to set your sights on the next gig, give yourself time to get to know your work. Spend time with your peers and managers to learn more about the business, the expectations, and the customers.

As you build relationships in your role, ask for periodic check-ins—with managers as well as with peers—to ensure that you are on track with agreed-upon expectations or areas of improvement. This tactic helps you build a rapport, while gaining visibility within your team and organization.

Landex said that your ramp-up is the perfect window to gain insight from others—and yourself. In this ongoing process, consider what you’re doing in your work and how you’re doing it. This will help you notice how you are evolving in your role, reflect on challenges you have taken on, and figure out how to keep growing, she said.

“Ask yourself, if I had been a bit bolder, what would I have done differently?” said Landex.

Fill in your skill gaps

As you continue to gauge your strong suits and identify areas of development, focus on your strengths, but don’t be afraid to know and publicly acknowledge your areas of opportunity. Those may be the very areas that could lead you into something new and exciting, something unexpected.

“Let’s say you don’t have a specific skillset or it doesn’t come naturally to you, but you love 90 percent of the rest of your job. You might be in the right role, and you should get mentoring and training to ‘skill you up’ on the 10 percent that you are concerned about,” she said.

Go to your manager and have a conversation about the identified gap. Landex suggested communicating about your growth area but that you know it’s a skill you can improve. Then lay out a plan to execute that: a training, a long-term class, or help from a mentor.

“Your manager should be able to help you identify someone in the organization that would be a great help,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a local mentor. It could be someone in a different job or different location than you. The idea is to find someone who you can shadow a bit, in person or virtually, and ask questions about how you can improve within your specific scenarios.”

And remember, Landex said, “You might not be the strongest in a skill, but never look in a mirror and think you’re not good enough.” Everyone can improve once they set their target.

Build connections beyond your role

Landex also believes employees should seek a sponsor or champion.

“A sponsor is not a mentor but someone who can help you in your next career step,” she explained. “Let’s say you don’t have all the right skills or the right technology, but you have the right effort and capabilities to get there. With the right sponsor, they will help you connect with the right people and opportunities to get you to the next stage of your career.”

Be your best data keeper

Having a record of your career path can be surprisingly insightful. Landex said she does this in two ways: by documenting her accomplishments, and by asking colleagues to share their feedback about her.

The personal document is just for you. “It can be 10 pages or no limit,” she said. “Put in all the different roles you’ve had. Write in your achievements and how you managed. Keep it chronicled and make note of what’s relevant.”

Then revisit it about once a year or as your accomplishments happen. Continue to think about how your direction changes, and adjust your entries to showcase relevant details.

This personal document is a great way for you notice trends in your accomplishments and pinpoint new, in-demand skillsets that you’ve obtained. Also, by calling out how you got there, you’re making note of your way of thinking through a problem or project.

Landex also suggests collecting unsolicited feedback. Whether it’s a kind note from your manager about a project you rocked or an appreciative hallway chat with a peer about your work ethic, save it.

“I actually capture my feedback on LinkedIn,” said Landex who feels the Recommendations section of the platform is an underutilized tool. “When I get good feedback from someone other than my manager, I ask the person if they could share their feedback as a recommendation on LinkedIn.”

Understand that your career is evolutionary

With every great role, you’ll find great lessons and potential successes. By chronicling your experience, expanding your connections, and showcasing your well-earned accolades, you are setting a solid foundation to nurture your career development.

Never treat a new role as the “end all, be all.” It’s simply a milestone of your career evolution.

How thinking like a recruiter can open more doors in your job search – Microsoft Life

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: I’m interested in a role that I found on a job site. I reached out to a recruiter at the company through LinkedIn, but I didn’t hear back. Did I go about this the wrong way?

Answer:  If you’ve spotted the perfect role on a job site, you may be tempted to run a quick LinkedIn search, identify a recruiter who works at that company, and reach out. Sometimes this approach works, but more often, you never hear anything back. Why?

While LinkedIn is a great way to connect with others during a job search, you may be going about your networking in the wrong way—or even with the wrong person.

Microsoft recruiter Mike Maglio offers a simple approach to using LinkedIn to increase your chance of getting a response and making a meaningful connection. His secret? Think like a recruiter.

It’s no surprise that recruiters use LinkedIn’s search tool to find potential candidates for their open jobs. The trick, Maglio says, is for job seekers to use the same search tool to find recruiters who might be hiring for the jobs you want.

“In their profile, a lot of recruiters will explain what they do and what organizations they cover to show up in searches more accurately,” he said. You can find them by doing your own search.

For example, if you are a software engineer who is passionate about working on Azure technology, search for “Azure AND recruiter AND Microsoft.” Maglio suggests job seekers use Boolean search logic with terms such as “AND” to yield more relevant results with a more accurate listing of recruiters in that space. “Use filters such as current company, location, etc. to get even more relevant results,” he added.

“Even within a product as big as Azure, you still want to get as specific with your search as possible,” said Maglio. “The more targeted you are, the better.”

Check out the profiles of the recruiters you found, and then choose a couple who work with your specific qualifications, such as software engineer, recent graduate, and Azure solutions.

Now that you’ve located the right recruiters, it’s time to introduce yourself. Craft a message that is concise, precise, and offers information that explains who you are. “Recruiters get many messages, so being direct and specific increases the likelihood you’ll get a response,” said Maglio.

Use a warm welcome, such as “Hello [Recruiter Name]” and then be clear about what you are seeking (e.g., referral for a role, connection to a team, information, etc.). A recruiter is going to look at your profile, so you don’t have to send a full resume or  write an introduction with all of your experience.

Do you have a mutual connection? Mention that person in your introduction—or better yet ask your mutual connection to make an InMail introduction between you and the recruiters, Maglio suggested. This gives you an automatic “trust boost” because the recruiters are familiar with the connection who’s referring you.

“If you are reaching out about a role, include the link to the job posting. Let the recruiters know that you’re interested and would like to be considered for the role,” he said. It will also help recruiters connect you with other recruiters or hiring teams, in case that specific role is handled by someone else.

If you are simply wanting more information, be clear about that. If the recruiters can help, they might potentially schedule time to chat with you or even refer you to someone in the organization.

Recruiters need to understand who you are beyond your resume and LinkedIn profile, so use your chance to show them what you can bring to the company or job.

“You should be able to demonstrate your value and show you are a knowledgeable applicant, but be concise,” said Maglio.

“You could briefly speak to a relevant article or press release that ties into your passion. Or—if possible—call out a patent, applications you’ve built, or a slideshow of projects that can be viewed,” he said.

These examples show your passions and interests, beyond just your resume. “But keep it short and sweet,” Maglio said. “The last thing you want to do is bury that kind of info.”

If you’ve followed these steps and haven’t been able to connect with the first set of recruiters you’ve identified, keep applying and refining these steps.

The right connection is out there, along with the role of your dreams.