Inspired and inspirational; two words to describe the Microsoft leadership evening this week. Led by Microsoft Chief of Staff Rina Lavda and Retail Sales Director Anne Lepissier and featuring Microsoft apprentice Tansy Hill, the event offered girls and parents an unforgettable insight into life in one of the world’s most successful organisations and gave invaluable tips on becoming an authentic and successful leader.
Rina started by telling us about the huge culture shift taking place at Microsoft that is being led by CEO Satya Nadella. Aimed at making the company more agile, flexible and reducing complacency, Satya is leading the organisation into a growth mindset, which will improve resilience and lead to greater risk-taking and greater reward. Rina talked about the importance of authenticity as a leader and how Satya’s own humble approach is transforming the company around him.
Anne Lepissier gave us a privileged insight into her journey from growing up in central France, via a passion for Japan, through a global career and meeting her husband and having her children. She recognised the importance of her strong roots and family and advised girls to let their passion drive their lives. She also had some vital tips for communicating in a global society, taking a wry look at English reserve and how it’s viewed by other cultures which had everyone laughing.
Next Rina told her story, analysing the important moments in a life that began as a Ugandan refugee. She examined how she had changed over her career, growing in confidence after she recognised that being a “chameleon” and always reflecting those personalities around her was not giving her a sense of authenticity or integrity. She frankly admitted that life hasn’t always been easy, but that achieving a sense of balance comes from being grounded in yourself.
Both Rina and Anne consider their “number one job” to be raising their children, but they showed that this can be achieved as part of a successful and fulfilling career – and with their families proudly supporting them in the audience, it was not in doubt.
Finally we heard from Tansy Hill, a Microsoft apprentice who is part way through her degree at the University of Kent. Tansy enthused the audience as she showed how knowing that she loves working with people and capitalising on that won her a place on the Microsoft apprenticeship programme. She encouraged the girls to seize learning opportunities in every sphere of life and to support one another, building up networks of success and friendship and discovering their peers talents and strengths.
The audience enthusiastically took part in the interactive elements of the session, working out where their strengths lay, admitting the times that they had failed and sharing their discoveries about themselves and others.
This was an invaluable and very entertaining event. Thank you to the Microsoft team for leading it and we very much hope that it will be repeated in future.