May 24, 2003 spout

My First Meeting with a Senior VP

On the anniversary of my first month at MS, I took my first meeting with a Sr. Vice President. I’m told that’s a big deal. One colleague who’d been at MS for a few years said, Wow. You must be important. I expect that the first time I’ll be in a meeting with a Sr. VP will be at my firing.” In my case, it’s not that I’m important (I’m not) that got me involved with such a meeting; it’s that I have recently been asked to participate in a project that needed to meet with the VP to clarify some review feedback . Or, in other words, it was a pretty pedestrian here’s what we’ve come up with since the last time we met” kind of meeting. What made it interesting was that it was with a Eric.

Imagine a company run as a strict meritocracy that’s one of the most important and profitable in it’s industry. Now imagine that this company has been around for a while and has acquired tens of thousands of employees in a multi-layered hierarchy, with only the best and the brightest surviving and the best of the best rising to the top. That’s MS. Billg is layer 1. Eric is at layer 4 w/ a small number of peers. I’m at layer 9 or, as I like to call it, “the bottom.” By all rights, that means that Eric should be 5″ smarter than me, and I can see him fitting comfortably into that category.

Had Eric wanted to shred us, I’m sure he could have. Luckily, it was a nice, calm, productive meeting w/ him cutting quickly to the main points (in spite of the fact that he was reading and making notes on our handouts while still listening to our presentation). He also make some pretty interesting comments, especially considering how little time I’m guessing he’s had to think about the problem space. At least one comment put me on a path that I like much better than the one I was on (although we’ll see how he feels about it at the next review). The comment that startled me most, however, was when he said that he read my site. If this is my last post from inside the big house, you’ll know how much he liked it. : )