Looking back on my two years as a product manager at Microsoft (2023)


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Looking back on my two years as a product manager at Microsoft (3)

On March 27, 2023, I received news that Microsoft was firing me and some of my colleagues. The layoffs are part of a broader development in the tech ecosystem, with nearly every major tech company (except Apple) laying off workers. While this wasn't a performance issue, it was still a challenging life event and I took the time to reflect on the situation and determine my next course of action. Since I've shared my career, I want to update you on recent events. This post will give you an overview of the layoffs, highlight some key lessons I learned while working at Microsoft, and describe my current plans.

according tofired. for reference, a website that tracks layoffs in the tech industry, 1,056 tech companies will cut 164,576 jobs in 2022. The following year, 637 technology companies cut 186,020 jobs. It's layoff season!

Looking back on my two years as a product manager at Microsoft (4)

When the pandemic hit, many companies turned to an online model. COVID-19 has been a catalyst for digitization, and companies like Zoom, Shopify, and Microsoft have been able to capitalize on this trend. Their stock prices soared as demand surged, leading to a hiring spree.

The printing of money by the U.S. and other countries has spurred economic activity, leading to low interest rates and allowing big tech companies to borrow more money. Flush with cash, they launched a stock buyback program and increased their workforce.

As the impact of the pandemic begins to fade and people revert to pre-pandemic habits, tech companies' optimistic forecasts are beginning to crumble. Their client spending was lower than expected, and the resulting financial pressure was reflected in their share price, leading to massive layoffs.

In January 2023, Microsoft announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs. An unknown number of employees were affected in January, and Microsoft gave others "Sword of Damocles" Experience. Will it fall? In March, the company completed layoffs.

my thoughts on layoffs

I'm disappointed in the way Microsoft handled the process, mostly because they were a great employer prior to layoffs. The DNA of the company really shines through in tough times. Specifically, they failed in two key areas.

First, the decision to cut staff throughout the quarter had a negative impact on employee productivity. Uncertainty over the possibility of layoffs looms over most employees, who have a lot of work to do to focus on their jobs.

Second, non-U.S. employees received original severance pay compared to U.S. employees. None of this is illegal, but it's clear that the company favors its home country over any other. Clearly, Microsoft's goal is to save as much money as possible in the process. existSatya Nadella's Own Words, “U.S. employees are expected to receive benefits, including above-market severance pay, six months of ongoing health insurance, six months of ongoing stock awards, career transition services and 60-day notice prior to termination.

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Affected employees of ADC Nairobi have received two months' notice and are required by law to receive unused paid time off, but will miss three days of stock vesting due to the timing of the notice. Additionally, they all missed out on their annual bonuses even after working 10 of the company's required 12 months.

Looking back on my two years as a product manager at Microsoft (5)

my former colleagues

Big tech is a magnet for some of the most talented and visionary people, and I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with them. Before joining Microsoft, I worked exclusively in the African tech ecosystem and it was a great opportunity to learn from such a great group of people. Everyone I interacted with challenged me to teach me one thing or another and challenged me to keep learning. I've been impressed by the technical, PM and UX expertise of my colleagues, the level of excellence achieved by most managers, and the friendliness and helpfulness among people. I have many fond memories of my interactions with everyone I worked with.

Work on large construction and complex projects

When I joined Microsoft, I really learned what scale is. I went from working with thousands of clients to billions. I had the opportunity to work closely with our UXR team on UX improvement projects for our MSA ecosystem. I later joined the internal product analytics team, where we crunched a lot of data and presented it to our customers as insights they could use to improve the product.

I had to improve myself in several areas to be effective at work. First, I improved the way we position and present our work to leadership and internal stakeholders. This was critical because in a large company like Microsoft, despite having about 220,000 employees at the time, there were competing projects and priorities. Additionally, most of the work we do as a team has downstream (having to unblock you) and upstream (using what you deliver) partners who work on coordination and collaboration.

Second, I had to improve the technical side to become a more effective product manager. Level UX is a completely different game. Identifying and delivering products that impact billions of users requires me to rethink technology and design concepts that I'm not already using. I spent more time with my engineering colleagues digging deeper into the technical considerations of the features we were developing.

Third, during my time at Microsoft, my interpersonal skills have also improved. I have colleagues from all walks of life and viewpoints, so I've learned how to be inclusive and respect everyone's perspective.

Manager Training and Expectations

Even though I had no intention of doing so, I've been a manager for most of my career, so when the opportunity came up to be a people manager at Microsoft, I jumped at it. Becoming a manager was a wise decision as I was able to attend an 11-month management training program, the first of its kind for me. My expectations as a manager (model, coach, caregiver) were communicated and I was supported to live up to those expectations. I learned new methods likesituational leadershipI have advanced my knowledge in the areas of building inclusive teams and team behaviors, identifying influence, managing bias, and empowering teams to speak up, just to name a few. Various stewardship excellence communities and additional efforts from Microsoft leadership reinforce good management practices, and I look forward to developing them further.

Salary and benefits

Microsoft's compensation package is well designed and is a big boost for most of us who haven't worked at such a large company before. The structure of the company includes your base salary, benefits such as gas cards, premium insurance and contracted shares. In addition, every year, based on performance, each employee receives bonuses, salary increases, and additional shares. I don't think I'm using my money to buy fuel until oil prices in Kenya go up! On a personal note, we also have the option to participate in the Employee Stock Purchase Program (ESPP), which offers a 10% discount on stock purchased by check. The company also pays your superannuation contributions. During my short tenure, I've seen how a company like Microsoft can build financial independence.

During my two years at Microsoft, I gained a lot of experience, but also encountered some challenges. The size of the company and the structure of the ADC-based team caused most of the difficulties. All the issues I've highlighted are issues that we've asked and are in various stages of improvement. I'll highlight some of these challenges below.

  1. Coordination of different time zones— I work closely with many of my American colleagues who have forced me to change my working hours. I usually start work at 10am and leave between 8am and 9pm. The only day I work normally is Friday. Things were better before the layoffs, as I was mostly part of a team in Nairobi (interestingly, moving to a new team contributed a lot to the layoffs). Hopefully the remaining teams will gain more autonomy and be less reliant on their American counterparts, as long hours of overtime can take a toll on one's life.
  2. Spend some time with customers/users- Microsoft's PM role structure only allows for some direct interaction with customers, as the (CxP) team is responsible for this. As Prime Minister, I spend most of my time in front of a computer. While this job is rewarding, I wish I had more opportunities to work directly with our clients because being client-centric requires spending more time with them.
  3. Multi-party coordination— Microsoft is a large company with many products. Teams are highly specialized, and while this is a great way to build teams at scale, it introduces significant coordination and collaboration costs. I start most projects in coordination with many teams. Some teams had to unblock me, while others had to use what I was building to make an impact. While this experience sharpened my skills, I always felt like there was a better way to do it. The interdependence of teams significantly slows down development velocity.
  4. Equal pay for equal work- Salaries at Microsoft are competitive compared to other players in the African tech ecosystem. However, there is room for improvement compared to the American staff. this is nairobi160th in most expensive city4,416 cities around the world, but Microsoft calculates compensation based on labor costs, not cost of living. You're better off working for Microsoft in the US than in Nairobi, but your reach is the same.

I had a great time at Microsoft and the lessons I learned were very helpful. As a friend of mine said—”A bird's confidence never lies in the branch it perches, but in the wings that carry it.” My last day will be May 27, 2023 and I am currently exploring product management and customer experience opportunities with a bias towards working with products targeting the African market. In the short term, I am exploring human-centred design, product strategy and maximizing Consulting opportunities on optimizing team deployment to improve performance. If you are interested, please use hello[at]kirui[dot]co[dot]ke to contact us.

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What is it like to be a product manager at Microsoft? ›

Product Managers (PMs) drive development and build consensus throughout the entire product lifecycle. PMs typically apply their background in technology and business domains to define features and achieve product vision from product definition and planning through development, release, and end of life.

What does a product manager do at Microsoft? ›

Microsoft product managers provide support and guidance in all matters related to Microsoft's products. Candidates for the Product Manager role should be interested in defining roadmaps, own regional sales/marketing relationships, driving messaging direction, determining price, assists with supply chain issues.

How to get a job in Microsoft as product manager? ›

Generally, Microsoft Product Managers should have: 5+ years of product management experience (some, like this Product Manager – Platform and Extensibility role, require 10+ years) A strong technical background. Excellent collaboration skills, particularly with engineering.

Who is the product manager of Microsoft teams? ›

Laura Morgan - Principal Product Manager - Microsoft Teams - Microsoft | LinkedIn.

How much does a product manager 11 at Microsoft make? ›

The median yearly total compensation reported at Microsoft for the Product Manager role is $251,000.

Is it stressful being a product manager? ›

The day-to-day responsibilities of a product manager can be taxing, stressful, and all-consuming. Sometimes you don't think you have time to stop, take a breath, and take stock of your career.

What is the salary of Microsoft l64 Product Manager? ›

Microsoft 64 Product Manager Salary | $218K-$285K+ | Levels.

What is the salary of Product Manager 3 in Microsoft? ›

How much does a Product Manager at Microsoft make? The typical Microsoft Product Manager salary is ₹28,92,904 per year. Product Manager salaries at Microsoft can range from ₹3,06,278 - ₹61,10,940 per year.

What is the in hand salary of Microsoft Product Manager? ›

Average salary of an employee at Microsoft as Product Manager is ₹55.2lakhs. Employees at Microsoft as Product Manager earn an average of ₹55.2lakhs, mostly ranging from ₹35.5lakhs to ₹139.9lakhs based on 78 profiles.

How much does a product manager at Microsoft teams make? ›

Average Microsoft Technical Product Manager yearly pay in the United States is approximately $123,000, which meets the national average. Salary information comes from 1 data point collected directly from employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 24 months.

What does Microsoft call product managers? ›

At Microsoft, PM stands for program manager, whereas at most other tech companies, it means product manager.

Is product manager same as scrum master? ›

The product manager and scrum master both serve in supporting roles to the product's success, and each specializes in different parts of product management. The product manager is accountable for market success, while the scrum master ensures that the team follows the scrum process to achieve product success.

What is the life of a product manager? ›

According to Reuben, a product manager is responsible for: Identifying the problems to solve user issues. Directing the product strategy to solve these problems. Prioritizing tasks to deliver value to the user.

Is product manager high paying? ›

The average annual salary for associate product managers is between $58,000 – $117,000 per year.

Is product manager a good position? ›

Product Management is a very hot role right now, as it was listed as the #4 best job in America earlier this year. It's the perfect blend of technical knowhow, creativity, and leadership, making it perfect for those who want to build great products without necessarily having a CS degree or coding expertise.

How much does a L8 make at Microsoft? ›

Those who ascend yet another level to full-on director (L8) can enjoy total compensation of roughly $800,000 (but as with Microsoft level 69, there are few L8 respondents to levels.

What is high salary in Microsoft? ›

The highest-paying job at Microsoft Corporation is a Managing Director & CEO with a salary of ₹451.4 Lakhs per year. The top 10% of employees earn more than ₹54.41 lakhs per year.

What is the salary of Office 365 Product Manager? ›

The typical Microsoft Product Manager salary is $109,669 per year.

Do product managers get laid off? ›

Growth still matters (attack is the strongest form of defense) but so does efficiency. As companies wield their Product teams as a tool to reduce cost, it's no surprise that Product Managers remain in high demand—only 4% of the layoffs at Twitter impacted Product Managers (source: layoffs.

Why do product managers quit? ›

Lack of opportunity—There aren't too many product managers content to do their existing job forever; they're looking for chances to advance, take on more responsibility, and expand their skill set.

What is the hardest thing as a product manager? ›

What's the hardest part of product management? Our research shows that the hardest parts of the job for many product managers are organizational comms, managing deadlines, team alignment, and balancing different responsibilities.

What is Microsoft salary level 65? ›

65 - Principal PM

We've negotiated thousands of offers and regularly achieve $30k+ (sometimes $300k+) increases. Get your salary negotiated or your resume reviewed by the real experts - recruiters who do it daily.

What is salary level 61 Microsoft? ›

💰 $213k - Microsoft 61 Software engineer salary [real offer] | Candor.

What is level 60 salary in Microsoft? ›

The estimated total pay for a Software Engineer II (Level 60) at Microsoft is $203,277 per year.

What is VP level at Microsoft? ›

L70: Vice President (VP)

Who pays the most for Product Manager? ›

The highest paying company for a Product Manager is Google with an average total compensation of $370,000.

What is the salary of PM II in Microsoft? ›

Program Manager 2 salary at Microsoft Corporation India ranges between ₹ 20.0 Lakhs to ₹ 51.0 Lakhs. According to our estimates it is 23% more than the average Program Manager 2 Salary in Software Product Companies.

What is a principal PM at Microsoft? ›

A Microsoft principal product manager is a professional responsible for creating and managing products at Microsoft. They oversee all aspects of a product's lifecycle, from conception to launch and beyond.

How much does a partner PM make at Microsoft? ›

Average Microsoft Partnership Manager yearly pay in the United States is approximately $167,726, which is 114% above the national average.

What are levels in Microsoft? ›

Job levels at Microsoft
  • Software Development Engineer SDE.
  • Software Development Engineer Test SDET.
  • Program Manager PM.

Is Product Manager a lot of work? ›

You're Responsible for a LOT

Being a product manager is a LOT of responsibility. If you work as a product manager in tech, it's likely that the products you work on are the bread and butter of the company. If you work at Google, that means you could be working on Gmail or even Google Search.

Do product managers have a lot of meetings? ›

As a product manager, meetings probably comprise a significant portion of your workweek, and you likely consider at least some of them necessary to the successful development of your products.

How much does a senior Product Manager make at Microsoft? ›

Average Microsoft Senior Product Manager yearly pay in the United States is approximately $164,609, which is 15% above the national average.

What is the acceptance rate for Microsoft PM? ›

With a PM applicant success rate of about 0.35%, you'll have to stand out from the pack in order to receive an offer. That's where we come in. We've collected 201 Microsoft PM interview questions from Glassdoor, categorized them, and added a step by step preparation plan to help you maximize your chances of success.

What is the difference between TPM and PM at Microsoft? ›

While PMs and TPMs are both responsible for a project's success, their goals and responsibilities are different, and therefore the preparation for their interviews should be different. Both are leaders and expert communicators, but PMs are generally responsible for “ideas” and TPMs for “execution.”

Is the product manager the boss? ›

While working as a product manager and while interacting with other seasoned product managers and head of product management teams of other firm's, one thing is absolutely crystal clear that Product Manager is a leader rather than boss of anyone.

Is product manager higher than Scrum Master? ›

The product manager serves as a team leader and is responsible for project performance and ensuring that everything goes according to plan. A scrum master leads the Scrum team and stakeholders in Scrum training and coaching and encourages the developers' ability to add more value to the product.

Which role is better Scrum Master or Product Owner? ›

The Product Owner also takes care of the Product Backlog and successfully predicts the work that will lead to a successful product. On the other hand, the Scrum Master is more of a tactician, someone who notices issues and reacts to them in a way that removes the impediments but also empowers the team as a whole.

Do product managers run scrum? ›

Product managers often act as product owners on scrum teams. In a scenario where both roles exist, product owners focus on internal responsibilities — like backlog maintenance per the standard scrum methodology.

What is the salary level of a product marketing manager at Microsoft? ›

Average Microsoft Product Marketing Manager yearly pay in the United States is approximately $133,159, which is 14% above the national average.

What is the difference between a project manager and a product manager at Microsoft? ›

Product managers and project managers often work together, they have distinct roles. While a product manager sets the vision, goals, and business trajectory of a product, a project manager leads the many projects to make those goals a reality.

How much does a product manager director at Microsoft make? ›

Average Microsoft Senior Director of Product Management yearly pay in the United States is approximately $221,987, which is 19% above the national average.

Which company pays highest salary for Product Manager? ›

The highest paying company for a Product Manager in India is Atlassian with an average total compensation of ₹8,760,964.

Who is paid higher project vs product manager? ›

In most organizations, the product manager is considered to be higher in the hierarchy than the project manager. The product manager is responsible for the overall strategy, vision, and success of a product or product line; the project manager is responsible for the planning and execution of a specific project.

Is product manager a technical role? ›

Whether a product manager has “technical” in their job title is largely semantic and company-dependant; there are plenty of “regular” product managers that were originally coders or possess technical degrees, while there are occasionally technical product managers lacking a particularly technical background.

Can Product Manager make millions? ›

Product management is a well-paid job and has a high level of job satisfaction. The product manager's salary is primarily based on years of experience, job location and skills. The average annual salary for product managers can range from $61,000 to $200,000 per year.

What is the salary of PM 2 in Microsoft? ›

Program Manager 2 salary at Microsoft Corporation India ranges between ₹ 20.0 Lakhs to ₹ 51.0 Lakhs. According to our estimates it is 24% more than the average Program Manager 2 Salary in Software Product Companies.

How much does a senior product marketing manager make at Microsoft? ›

The estimated total pay for a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft is $272,663 per year.


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