Why Office Communicator?

Since announcing my pending job change, several people have asked me, “why did you choose the Office Communicator group for your next position?” The answer is also part of the internal talk I’m giving this week on career tips, so I thought I’d share it here.

One of my favorite things about Microsoft is the wide variety of teams, products and roles available across the company. While considering this change, I looked seriously into possible roles on at least half a dozen teams. One job was extremely technical – working on testing a major new feature for a critical and complex component (sorry, I have to be vague since it’s unannounced). Another position was working on a cool technology helping them with their test tool infrastructure. Talking to the managers in charge of these teams helped me figure out what kind of position I was looking for (when I started looking, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for). In fact, when Ross (my new manager) and I first talked, I told him I’d keep him in mind as a backup – but we eventually talked and I began to change my mind.

When looking for a new job, the 3 Ps are important to keep in mind. You can follow a Person (a manager you really want to work with), you can work with People (teammates can make or break your experience), or you can go to work on a Product or technology you’re passionate about (or ideally, a combination of the three). As I mentioned, I’ve known Ross for 7 or 8 years (Ross used to chair the Test Architect Group before I took over). I’ve also watched Ross doing some extremely cool things as a manager over the past few years. As I dug in a bit deeper to the org (you should always do your homework when changing jobs) I found more things I liked. Ross’s manager spent some time with me, and showed me that he understood more about the challenge of software testing than just about any other manager of his level in the company. I also discovered that a peer of his, as well as a team mate-to-be are people I worked with and respected in previous jobs. I’ve met various other people from this org over the years and I’m certain it’s a team I can work with. What surprised me in my search was how interested I became in the technology (it’s quite common to love a job where you aren’t passionate about the technology). As I talked to the team and learned more about the product, I began to get pretty excited about the potential – and felt pretty good that I found a position that nailed the 3 Ps as well.

Office Communicator is about a lot more than an IM client (in the past, I have jokingly referred to the product as “messenger – enterprise edition”). There’s potential to do some pretty cool stuff with online meetings and recordings (and thing in the client too). There’s also plenty of more technical challenges below the surface (distributed algorithm testing anyone?), so I’ll get to do a wide variety of work. I think it will be fun working on a team like this and hope to have a lot of fun.

And, beginning Tuesday, I hope to begin to figure out much more about this team and start to figure out exactly what that wide variety of work entails. Stay tuned.


  1. Alan,

    Good luck in your new role!

    I always enjoy the early days of settling into new roles and getting up to speed with new challenges while simultaneously climbing a steep learning curve.

    I also like the 3 P’s you articulated.

    I hope your new job responsibilities won’t keep you from posting occasionally at http://testing.stackexchange.com

    • Thanks Justin – I will probably step up my involvement on stack-exchange, as I imagine I’ll have a good set of questions of my own to begin asking soon.


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