Here is what happened to me at Microsoft and why I am not at all surprised about the email that was going around internally...
I left my engineering role at IBM to take a technical evangelist role in the developer experience org in 2016 working primarily with azure & additional cloud services. I had quotas on speaking I had to hit which were like 2-3 times a month I don’t remember exactly
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Which I always hit. I had to participate in repping at hackathons to help students at mostly Ivy leagues, some of the students I helped ended up winning.
So I was making demos, writing talks, constantly traveling, but getting sh-- done. It felt good. Now let me tell you about my manager... he was an extremely alpha type man whose background was sales. Not an engineer.
We did not get along, no matter what I did it wasn’t good enough and every single quarterly review I had from him was bad. You want to talk about ~ meritocracy ~?? I was hitting ALL my quotas. Yet he turned it into something terrible.
He’d show up at a hackathon for an hour and see me at the table working on a demo I’d have to be giving that week and say I wasn’t participating enough, when I’m there 12+ hours a day
It was so bad the CTO had a talk with me and used Meyers Briggs types to explain “why we clashed” because we were complete opposites. He tried to show me “ better ways to communicate with him.
Didn’t work. Other managers in other regions knew of the problems with this guy too. Still, every quarterly review was bad. Which no one told me meant I was essentially on a PIP almost my entire time there, which makes a big difference in a little bit.
Then he got promoted so he wasn’t our manager anymore! I was pumped. But then they reorged us and I wasn’t an evangelist anymore but a sales engineer? Told us to stop speaking at conferences and like, this was not the job I signed up for
New manager comes in, meanwhile as most people know, speaking at conferences takes a lot of lead time to book and plan so I still have like 2ー3 months of speaking lined up.
Now it’s end of year time which I was excited about because of the huge bonuses in terms of % of base and stock grants, plus wage increases Microsoft is known to have.
I thought I was finally going to be able to pay off my student loans with this role. I got nothing. Other people in the org who had been there much less time than me got their full bonuses. I know because they told me.
As a now sales engineer i was expected to seek out businesses to partner with or find ones that Microsoft had provided to make projects for them specifically that they could use, and I did a few of those and it s---ed.
I desperately was trying to get moved to another team, I tried so hard, other people supposedly tried to help me too, but nothing happened. Because when you have a bad quarterly review you apparently can’t move teams. Which no one told me about and I didn’t find out till the end
Then I got told I absolutely couldn’t speak anymore, no more traveling, and they put me on a sales engineering project for C# which I do not know, and I had to brush up and learn in a month
Myself and another younger woman colleague got sent to Florida to work with some older men who had been in Microsoft for years in Tampa, Florida. The project went well, the client was happy. I paired and wrote some C# and made implementation suggestions I thought were better
It was actually pretty fun and I had a good time, one of the men was a big fan of @jessfraz and saw that we followed each other on twitter and wanted to talk about how cool she is (which she is!) and he tried to add me on linked in.
When it was done everyone said good job, said it was a success and we went home. When I got back my manager put me on a react project that had a ton of bugs, and I was told to work on fixing that and collaborating with another colleague who was great.
Then two weeks after getting back I got an email from my manager that was clearly coached by legal talking about how “Microsoft values diversity and inclusivity” and about how there were multiple complaints about me from the Florida group
They said I didn’t code, which was a lie since I had to pair the whole time bc I had a month to learn C#. They lied and said I left early “to get my nails done”. I have the swarm check in for 6:30 at the nail place. We were done at 5:30.
They said “I made people uncomfortable” because me and the other woman were talking about Valentine’s Day dinner reservations. I felt sick to my stomach. First because my mind was racing trying to think of if I had done ANYTHING inappropriate.
I didn’t. It took me a while to realize I was being managed out. Why would men who I supposedly made uncomfortable try and connect with me on LinkedIn? Why would they lie about this sh--? I honestly didn’t know what gaslighting truly felt like until I was at Microsoft:
Here is a conversation I’m posting with permission from a friend who also worked there a few days after this happened
So I’m dealing with this and working on the react project and simultaneously starting to look for a new job. The guy I’m working with on the project rules and knows what’s going on and was giving our manager good feedback on me.
We found a case study inside the project that could be turned into a new project to improve processes. I pitched it, my manager said it was good, told me to come in to talk about it. Guess what happens next!
I was fired, with cause. Told I was a sh--ty evangelist, and a sh--ty engineer. Direct feedback on the latter from when I was fired “while Rachel fixed some very intense bugs she ultimately didn’t write enough lines of code” No severance.
as I’m walking out the building I send a tweet saying I’m looking for new opportunities and had multiple people from Microsoft say “join our team” and it felt like I was being kicked when I was down
I will say I do not think every team at Microsoft is bad. Everyone at Microsoft isn’t bad, but there are some intense sh--ty things happening and they have extremely broken systems and no way for people to get out of bad situations.
I’ll also never forget when I told a colleague about some conference that invited me and their response was “why you? Why didn’t they ask XXXXXXX who is way more known than you are”
Microsoft is why I stepped down as co chair and why I had to stop participating in node. Microsoft is why I’m not speaking this year. Microsoft is why I constantly question whether or not I’m good enough or belong in tech.
Anyway. This was only known in backchannels and by friends but I wanted to say it publicly. i didn’t want to write a medium post about it. I just want people to know my story and to stop asking me why I left Microsoft. It’s because I was forced to.