- Microsoft's executive team includes representatives from Azure, Office, LinkedIn, sales, marketing, finance and other areas.
- More than half of the 14 people have been at Microsoft for at least 20 years.
Satya Nadella has almost completely changed the group of top Microsoft executives who make key decisions and iron out issues since taking the company's CEO title from Steve Ballmer in 2014.
Today's senior leadership team includes the leader of LinkedIn, Microsoft's biggest acquisition yet, but has no single person who's responsible for all of Windows. From the Ballmer years, only finance chief Amy Hood and legal head Brad Smith have stuck around with Nadella.
In 2014, Nadella asked each person on the senior leadership team to make an "'all in' commitment as we embark on the next chapter for the company," he wrote in a memo to employees. He announced at the same time that Skype executive Tony Bates, who had been a candidate for Microsoft CEO, was leaving.
In the years since, a handful of other leaders have left, including Windows chief Terry Myerson, Nokia leader Stephen Elop (also once a CEO candidate) and business solutions executive Kirill Tatarinov. Most recently, artificial intelligence and research head Harry Shum left the leadership team recently after 23 years at the company, a spokesperson confirmed.
But the departures haven't resulted in deep institutional knowledge going away. Eight of the 14 people on the current SLT, as the executive group is known at Microsoft, have been at the company for at least two decades. The group gathers each Friday, and meetings can span as long as seven hours, as Fast Company reported in 2017.
Here are the current members of Microsoft's SLT:
Satya Nadella: The boss
Nadella grew up in Hyderabad, India, and joined Microsoft from Sun Microsystems in 1992 as a program manager in the company's Windows developer relations group. In the years to come he worked on advertising, search, commerce and public cloud, among other areas. At one point in the early 2000s, Jeff Bezos tried to recruit him to Amazon, but then-executive Doug Burgum (now the governor of North Dakota) convinced him to stay, Burgum told Fast Company in 2017.
It turned out to be a good career move.
After Steve Ballmer announced plans to step down as CEO in 2013, Nadella became Microsoft's third CEO on February 4, 2014, and immediately set out transforming the company. He emphasized areas like cloud where Microsoft was a challenger rather than a leader, and formed partnerships with rivals like Red Hat and SAP. Nadella has insisted that Microsoft loves open-source software despite Microsoft's past attacks on Linux, and he has made it clear that the Windows operating system, the historical core of Microsoft, was no longer the top priority.
Nadella also set about changing Microsoft's cutthroat and bureaucratic culture. He encouraged employees to have a so-called "growth mindset" — the belief that people can develop new skills and knowledge with enough effort — after his wife, Anu, introduced him to the book "Mindset" by Carol Dweck years ago. Soon after becoming CEO, he asked top Microsoft executives to read "Nonviolent Communication" by Marshall Rosenberg.
It "was the first clear indication that Satya was going to focus on transforming not just the business strategy but the culture as well," legal chief Brad Smith has said.
Nadella received $42.9 million in total compensation in the 2019 fiscal year. Microsoft's independent board members recognized Nadella's efforts to improve the company's culture in the most recent fiscal year, and they felt that his engagement with customers, partners and investors was "exceptional." They credited him for leading the company to record financial results.
Many people have observed that Nadella is especially present when he meets with people in person. "He has a hugely proactive and incredibly connected listening [style]. So he's with you," executive vice president Jean-Philippe Courtois has said. "You can feel it. You can see the body language. And it doesn't matter if you're a top executive or a first-line seller, he has exactly the same quality of listening."
Judson Althoff: The salesman
As executive vice president of Microsoft's Worldwide Commercial Business, Althoff is in charge of commercial business strategy for enterprise, public sector, small and medium-sized businesses and other areas.
He joined Microsoft in 2013 from Oracle to become president of Microsoft's North American business, reporting to Microsoft's then-operating chief, Kevin Turner. Turner left in 2016, opening the way for Althoff, among others, to take more responsibility. Prior to joining Microsoft, Althoff had spent 11 years at Oracle, most recently as senior vice president for worldwide alliances and channels and embedded sales. He had worked at EMC prior to that.
Althoff led the development of a major sales reorganization in 2017 that saw Microsoft go deeper in key industries like retail and health care.
Chris Capossela: The marketer
Capossela, Microsoft's chief marketing officer and executive vice president for marketing and consumer business, wears several hats. He's in charge of Microsoft's marketing and communications, the consumer and device sales teams, along with advertising, sales and physical stores.
In 1991 Capossela, known inside Microsoft as ChrisCap, graduated with a bachelor's degree from Harvard University, which Bill Gates had dropped out of in 1975, and went to work at Microsoft as a marketing manager. In the late 1990s he spent two and a half years as Bill Gates' speech assistant, and was corporate vice president for Office marketing for more than seven years, according to his LinkedIn profile.
A 2011 Microsoft statement described Capossela as being "instrumental in ushering Office into the cloud with Office Web Apps and Office 365." Nadella made him marketing chief in 2014. He delegated everything, one former Microsoft marketing executive told AdAge in 2014.
"Marketing at Microsoft includes building a profitable business, so understanding the flow of money is crucial," Capossela said in a 2014 interview.
Jean-Philippe Courtois: The international businessman
Courtois, known by his initials JPC, is an executive vice president and president of Microsoft global sales, marketing and operations. He heads up Microsoft's commercial business across Microsoft's many subsidiaries.
He joined Microsoft as a channel sales representative in 1984, before the company's 1986 initial public offering, and in 1994 he became general manager of Microsoft France.
In the early 2000s he was CEO of Microsoft's Europe, Middle East and Africa branch, then became president of Microsoft's international business until July 2016, when Kevin Turner left. Then he became executive vice president and president for global sales, marketing and operations.
Courtois received $15.1 million in total compensation in the 2019 fiscal year. Microsoft board members gave him kudos for having a "customer-obsessed" approach and pushing for more conversations about diversity and inclusion in the most recent fiscal year.
Kurt DelBene: The strategist
DelBene is Microsoft's chief digital officer and executive vice president of corporate strategy and the Core Services Engineering and Operations group. He looks after Microsoft's internal technology and its strategy, keeps track of competitive issues and explores potential business opportunities.
He joined Microsoft in 1992 from McKinsey, where he had been a management consultant, and eventually rose to be president of Microsoft's Office division.
DelBene is considered a founder of Office 365, a core part of Microsoft's modern cloud push. He was previously general manager for Outlook and group program manager for Exchange. The BBC once described DelBene as "the man behind the PowerPoint presentations." In 2013 he retired from Microsoft as part of a Microsoft reorganization. Months later President Obama asked him to help fix Healthcare.gov. In 2015 DelBene returned to Microsoft on Nadella's request.
He led Office when Microsoft was building the software to make Office apps work on Apple's iPad -- an initiative that Ballmer was lukewarm about, but that Nadella brought to fruition when he took over.
"It came to a point where I had discussions with Steve [Ballmer], and Steve was really kind of conflicted about it," DelBene said at a company event in 2015. "He thought of us as the Windows company first and foremost, and would Office be strong if Windows wasn't strong? And my perspective was both need to be strong and Office will not be able to fundamentally be the thing that changes that equation one way or the other. But what it could do, if we didn't have cross-platform, is it could reduce the value of Office and the value proposition for Office very substantially. And so we went back and forth a couple of times. He finally said, 'Nope, I don't want to ship it.' And one of the very first things that Satya did when he became CEO is he shipped the iPad version of Office."
In 2012 his wife, Suzan DelBene, a former Microsoft executive herself, became a U.S. representative for Washington's 1st Congressional district.
Scott Guthrie: The cloud chief
Guthrie, known by his email handle ScottGu, is executive vice president in charge of the company's Cloud and AI group. In 2018 Guthrie gained more power when Microsoft divvied up the Windows and Devices Group and moved a good chunk of it — the Windows platform team — into his organization.
He joined Microsoft immediately after taking his bachelor's degree from Duke University in 1997.
He was a founding member of the team that developed Microsoft's .NET, a set of technologies for software developers to write applications. He's also the father of ASP.NET, for building web applications.
For many years he has shown up at events in solid red polo shirts, the closest Microsoft comes to having a person with a regular uniform like former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who often wore black turtlenecks.
In 2011 he took control of the application platform team for Azure, Microsoft's cloud infrastructure offering that competes with Amazon Web Services, to get developers building on Azure. Back then Azure was not the company's biggest priority, and it wasn't the easiest thing to use. Even some Microsoft executives had trouble with it, Business Insider reported.
The day before Nadella became CEO, he asked Guthrie to take over for him as head of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise business that includes Azure. "We've worked so closely together, so it was a pretty quick conversation," Guthrie said in a 2019 interview.
Kathleen Hogan: HR
Hogan is Microsoft's executive vice president of human resources and chief people officer. She led the charge on an overhaul of the employee performance review process. She worked on the company's paid-leave policy, and under her Microsoft has made inclusion a higher priority. She's also addressed questions about harassment complaints within the company.
She earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard in 1988, according to her LinkedIn profile, then joined Microsoft from McKinsey in 2003 as vice president of customer and partner experience and worldwide field operations. She later took responsibility for technical support as well. She became chief people officer in 2014 after Nadella called her while she was on a road trip during a sabbatical and asked her to take the job.
"I think Satya really had a vision for making this a purpose-driven place and also an exceptional place for people to work, and so I thought, 'What a great chance to go do that,'" she said in a conversation with Capossela.
Hogan is Nadella's "partner in transforming our culture," he wrote in his 2017 book "Hit Refresh." She became a bigger supporter of Nadella after seeing how he handled criticism for saying in 2014 that women shouldn't ask for raises but instead have faith in the system.
"He didn't blame anybody," she said. "He owned it. He came out to the entire company, and he said, 'We're going to learn, and we're going to get a lot smarter.'"
Amy Hood: The money master
As Microsoft's chief financial officer, Hood runs the finance group, giving her responsibility for acquisitions, tax planning, treasury activities, accounting, internal audits and investor relations.
Hood graduated from Harvard Business School in 1999 and worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. She joined Microsoft in 2002, initially working in the company's investor relations team. Later she was chief of staff of Microsoft's Server and Tools group, and in 2010 she became finance chief of the Microsoft Business Division. She helped lead the transition to Office 365, and oversaw the acquisitions of Skype and Yammer.
When Hood stepped up to replace Peter Klein as finance chief in 2013, becoming the first woman to hold that role in company history, the strategy seemed to be less about growing revenue than cutting costs. "Peter has built a world-class finance team, and I am set up well to continue the company's strong discipline around costs and focus on driving shareholder value," she said.
By 2015, as executives were planning the company's briefing for financial analysts, Hood felt that the company should show investors how Microsoft could become more relevant, according to a 2017 Harvard Business School case study. At that meeting, Nadella introduced an ambitious new goal focused on growth rather than costs: The company aimed to achieve a $20 billion annualized revenue run rate from commercial cloud services including Azure, Office 365, Dynamics and enterprise mobility services in the 2018 fiscal year. Microsoft achievedthat goal.
She received $20.2 million in total compensation in the 2019 fiscal year. Board members gave Hood credit for "record year financial performance and management" and cost cutting across multiple departments in the most recent fiscal year.
Rajesh Jha: The Office guru
As Microsoft's executive vice president of experiences and devices, Jha leads one of the major groups of engineers in the company. Most of his time at Microsoft he's worked on software for business use, and he's worked on the Office suite for many years. A 2018 reorganization gave him purview over more products, including devices and the Windows client. Jha has a say in the planning process for where Microsoft's data centers should be, alongside Scott Guthrie.
Jha joined Microsoft in 1990 as a software design engineer immediately after receiving a master's degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He contributed to five releases of the Microsoft Works suite and later developed multimedia technologies.
"I said, 'Wow, I can't believe they're actually trusting me to ship stuff,'" he recalled in a 2018 conversation with Dharmesh Thakker of Battery Ventures. "And sure enough, you know, I had some hideous bugs that went out in the first release, and I was incredibly down on myself."
He remembered being conflicted about whether he wanted to be a developer or a manager, and he flip-flopped between the roles before his ascent to the top tiers of management at the company.
"Outside of work, you will often find me playing sports with my two sons. I am an avid sports fan and love to watch and play football, soccer, golf — sometimes more than my wife appreciates. ;)," he wrote in a 2008 blog post.
Jha speaks in bullet points, his former administrative assistant, Genise Dawson, has said.
Peggy Johnson: The dealmaker
As executive vice president of business development, Johnson oversees Microsoft's business partnerships and corporate venture capital program, M12. She also has considerable influence on the company's M&A strategy.
She was Nadella's first big hire as CEO, joining from Qualcomm. Her first assignment was to improve Microsoft's relationship with Samsung, which was upset that Microsoft had entered the smartphone space by buying Nokia in 2013. At Qualcomm she had leadership roles in engineering, sales and marketing, as well as business development. Prior to that, she had worked on anti-submarine warfare as an engineer at GE. She was one of 15 kids.
Her total compensation for the 2019 fiscal year exceeded $10.4 million. Microsoft board members credited her for efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the most recent fiscal year, noting that she helped to launch the inaugural Female Founders Competition alongside partners EQT Ventures and SVB Financial Group.
"Over the course of my career, I've spent thousands of hours in pitch meetings, often as the only woman in the room. I still can't hold back a smile when a woman founder walks through the door, because I know the obstacles she's overcome just to get there," she wrote in a blog post announcing the contest.
Kevin Scott: Technical mind
Scott, Microsoft's chief technology officer, works on the company's technical vision, and in November Microsoft said he would take on Shum's responsibilities, giving him leadership of people focused on research and AI.
He's a remote executive, and lives in Los Gatos, California, in Silicon Valley. He's typically spent a few days a week at headquarters in Redmond, Washington. "I will in all honesty say it's not my favorite thing in the world," he said on a podcast in 2018. "I've sort of been shocked that I've been able to do as much of this job as I have been able to do remotely."
He arrived at Microsoft through the acquisition of LinkedIn, where he had been a senior vice president, and was named Microsoft's technology chief in 2017, less than two months after the acquisition closed. He reports to Nadella.
Scott initially wanted to be a computer-science professor. He spent time as a summer intern at Microsoft in 2001 while working on his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia, which he did not end up completing. His Ph.D. advisor, professor Jack Davidson, spent a sabbatical at Microsoft Research at corporate headquarters and got Scott a spot as an intern on the team where he worked, the programming language systems group. He also spent time at Google and AdMob, which Google later acquired.
In 2018 he said the work he was proudest of was writing "a bunch of software that people still use, you know, to this day, to do research in this very arcane, dark alley of computer science."
Brad Smith: The lawyer
Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, regularly speaks about Microsoft's positions on government policy, immigration, intellectual property, privacy, security and sustainability. He led Microsoft's negotiations with governments and companies, including antitrust agreements, and helped Microsoft build up a large collection of patents.
Smith directed Microsoft lawyers to figure out the degree to which open-source software infringed on Microsoft's patents. And he saw Microsoft's U.S. antitrust trial play out in person.
He joined Microsoft in 1993 from the law firm Covington & Burling to head up European corporate and legal affairs, and he became the company's general counsel in 2002. In 2015 he was named president.
He arrives at work at 6:30 a.m. and leaves at 6:45 p.m., and at 9:30 p.m. he logs on to handle work email, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Mark Zuckerberg once tried to recruit him, but he told the young CEO that he was not interested in leaving Microsoft, the Information reported in 2018.
He received $17.4 million in total compensation in the 2019 fiscal year. Board members recognized Smith's policy efforts related to the General Data Protection Regulation and the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace in the most recent fiscal year.
Phil Spencer: The gamer
Spencer is executive vice president for gaming, where he's in charge of gaming devices like the upcoming Xbox Series X console, as well as services like the xCloud streaming service.
Spencer interned at Microsoft in 1988, two years after the company's initial public offering. After graduating from the University of Washington in 1990 he returned to Microsoft for a spot in the company's multimedia group. He led Microsoft's game studios and, later, all of Xbox.
Spencer had presented Microsoft with a chance to buy Mojang, the developer of the game Minecraft, before Nadella's 2014 CEO appointment, Nadella wrote in his 2017 book "Hit Refresh." Spencer's boss chose not to move forward with a deal, Nadella wrote. Spencer kept in touch with Mojang and one day received a text saying the company was again for sale. This time Spencer brought the opportunity to Nadella who by then was CEO, and Microsoft bought Mojang for $2.5 billion.
He's well liked by the gaming public. He shares his online ID, P3, making it possible for people to play games like racing title Forza with him over the Xbox Live service.
In 2017 Spencer, Microsoft's executive vice president of gaming, joined the SLT, a sign of the company's commitment to gaming.
Microsoft has bought several game-development studios under Spencer's supervision, including Compulsion Games, Double Fine Productions, InXile, Ninja Theory, Obsidian, Playground Games and Undead Labs. In November Spencer made it clear that Microsoft's buying spree is not over. "We're running a good business today, so we've earned the right to continue to look," he said in an interview with Eurogamer.
Jeff Weiner: Socialite
Weiner is CEO of LinkedIn, a social network for professionals, with more than 675 million members. But in June he'll be replaced by Ryan Roslansky, currently senior vice president of product.
Weiner has more than 10 million followers on LinkedIn, and he regularly likes and comments on users' posts. And from time to time he does post, generating hundreds of comments.
"Very late to the Peloton craze (have a number of colleagues who have sworn by it for years) but have quickly become a huge fan," he wrote last fall. "Absolutely nailed the value proposition."
Before joining LinkedIn in 2008 he had held several leadership positions at Yahoo, and before that he had spent five years at Warner Bros., according to his LinkedIn profile. He was 24 when he got to Warner Bros., and he carried with him a report showing how the company could move forward in digital. "I was just this little pisher, a nobody. But they liked the report," he told Forbes in 2012.
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