Job title: Principal Test Manager - SDET - Office.com
Randall, what is hot in Office right now? Can we expect more of Microsoft Office online and now with a mobile piece to the business?
Services. Nowadays it’s all about software + services. People work and switch between different devices (a pc at both home and the office, tablets, phone, browser) multiple times a day. We’ve got to allow them to be able to remain productive and have their work follow them seamlessly. I’d say, yes, there’s plenty coming in terms of innovation, platform integration and experience improvement - mobile will definitely be a part of that.
You are a great technology and diversity ambassador with The National Society of Black Engineers and more. Can you share with us why you chose Microsoft, Office, and the SDET discipline?
When I was finishing up at school, if you wanted to do serious software, MS was the place. The number of products, customers and the potential… wow! I still think that is the case. Microsoft is an awesome company. There are brilliant people here with a lot of passion and focus.
The SDET discipline was interesting; no one does software quality like Microsoft. We are innovators in that space with our engineering approach, the investment in assisting technology and the commitment to quality. It’s very rewarding to have that kind of impact on a product. SDETs hold the line. It’s a very empowering feeling.
Office was a no brainer; great product; great people… very successful and committed to continuous improvement in all aspects from delivering the best software to hiring the best people… and not afraid of taking calculated risks to create the best work environment and shipping the most useful products.
Can you share with our audience some of the green field/creative work you have been able to do for Office?
I’ve been involved with a lot of stuff from engineering process to management improvements and hiring focuses. On the engineering side, my team has spent lots of energy around improving our delivery of bits to customers, internal and external. I’d say we’ve made a lot of progress there and have played around quite a bit with the balance of speed and quality. We’re not perfect, but we’ve learned a lot and grown tremendously as an organization.
You mentioned diversity above. I’ve had a hand in some of the many improvements in terms of how we source diverse talent and grow that talent within the organization: things from partnerships with universities as well as mentoring rings within the division. It’s been a lot of fun over the years.
As you perform your day to day job, do you have the opportunity to learn new things? How?
Yes. The equation is so dynamic with variables like schedules, deliverables, customers, employees, you have to be able to adapt quickly and try new things to solve new problems.
Ownership and Impact. Can you share with me personally what this means to you and what it means as an engineer working on Microsoft Office?
There is always a sense of pride when you work on a specific product, feature or set of features. Office is so essential to many peoples’ daily routines that you want to ensure that what you worked on is useful and helps rather than hurts people.
It’s a great feeling when a family member or friend is unsure about how to complete a task in the product and I can point them to Office.com. When they come back and say, “Whoa, that site is awesome... I bookmarked it” then I know that I’m doing something right.
What responsibility do you feel to customers knowing your customer base uses your product daily in schools, homes, and business around the world?
It’s like I said… we aim to help people, so it’s a huge responsibility. There are tons of customers who need our software to perform their jobs. There’s a lot of pressure to get it right and a lot of scrambling to repair when we sometimes miss the mark.
As we close this up, can you share with me one thing you want the rest of the world to know about Office that they might not already know?
OK, this may be obvious, but I think sometimes it's forgotten about by people outside of Microsoft: at Office, our job is to help people. We use our engineering skills to build better and better versions of our products so that people can be more productive. We love feedback, so if you’ve got thoughts/opinions - we want to hear them. The site, www.office.com, has several places for users to provide feedback that we comb through and attempt to address.