The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft

 
 
By Joe Wilcox  |  Posted 2008-01-31
 
 
 

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft

 

Among Microsoft's 70,000-plus employees, there are many influential people. Twenty-five is too small a number to capture the best of the best among a large group of creative people. But Microsoft corporate culture also is very staid and insular, with a top-heavy power structure. Therefore, for this list, I focused more on operational influencers, although there are some thought leaders included.

By Joe Wilcox, Microsoft Watch

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - The Countdown

 

And now, the countdown to the Top 25.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - The Countdown

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 25. Mini-Microsoft

 

25. Mini-Microsoft, the Masked Blogger

No list of influencers would be complete without the anonymous Microsoft employee who blogs in a no-nonsense way about the company. Mini-Microsoft// http://minimsft.blogspot.com/ is a hawk screeching for sanity in Microsoft product development and marketing.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 25. Mini-Microsoft

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 24. Mike Sievert

4. Mike Sievert, Corporate Vice President, Windows Marketing

 

Sievert is one of the few executives who survived the fiasco that was the Windows Vista launch. Still, the operating system's marketplace reception and perception about its value tarnished his star.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 24. Mike Sievert

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 23. Danl Lewin

3. Dan'l Lewin, Corporate Vice President, Strategic and Emerging Business Development

 

Lewin ranks so low because the real measure of his influence is outside Microsoft. Located in Silicon Valley, Lewin is responsible for relationships with partners that often are competitors (for example, Intuit and Sun) and with venture capitalists.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 23. Danl Lewin

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 22. Simon Witts

 

22. Simon Witts, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise and Partner Group

Simon "Mr. Enterprise" Witts oversees Microsoft's worldwide enterprise business, and he is hugely influential over partner strategy. Enterprise customers are Microsoft's meat and potatoes. Partners cook the food. (Honorable mention: Allison Watson, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Partner Group)

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 22. Simon Witts

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 21. Steve Berkowitz

 

21. Steve Berkowitz, Senior Vice President, Online Services Group

Berkowitz is hugely influential, but finding the right place for him on this list wasn't easy. The former Ask.com CEO is responsible for one of Microsoft's most important growth areas. If not for the aQuantive acquisition--and the following shift in corporate roles--Berkowitz would have ranked much higher. He's an outsider willing to take chances, which works for and against the extent of his influence.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 21. Steve Berkowitz

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 20. Debra Chrapaty

 

20. Debra Chrapaty, Corporate Vice President, Global Foundation Services

What is the measure of influence? Chrapaty is Microsoft's hard-hat girl, responsible for keeping an expanding mass of data centers operational. She's not necessarily a thought leader, yet her influence is immeasurable, particularly as Microsoft builds out its services platform. Her star is rapidly rising.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 20. Debra Chrapaty

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 19. Craig Mundie

 

19. Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer

Underlings define great leaders. Mundie deserves to be in the Top 15, but influencers in other research projects rank higher, in part because of his work. Mundie is cerebral, and so he's not the most fluid public speaker. But he's got vision, which he communicates where it matters most. Microsoft's best work is coming out of its incubation projects, which are reshaping how the company brings products to market. Mundie is the incubation thought and operational leader.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 19. Craig Mundie

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 18. Pieter Knook

 

18. Pieter Knook, Senior Vice President, Mobile Communications Business Microsoft's Windows Mobile business has hugely grown under Knook's leadership. Mobile is a strategic business that will grow in importance, particularly as more handsets are used for data as well as voice. Microsoft is heavily investing in mobile technologies, particularly as it looks to future advertising revenue possibilities. Knook's star also is rising.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 18. Pieter Knook

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 17. Michael Howard

 

17. Michael Howard, Senior Security Program Manager

Security book author and speaker Howard seems to be everywhere. His presence is much larger than his responsibilities--and he has influence. He is more a thought leader than operational influencer.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 17. Michael Howard

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 16. Gary Flake

 

16. Gary Flake, Director, Live Labs

Flake is another Microsoft thought leader, but one with increasing product influence-and in an area that's strategic for Microsoft. The research coming from Live Labs is setting Microsoft's competitive Web 2.0 agenda. What's lacking: better platform approach for third-party developers.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 16. Gary Flake

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 15. Jean-Philippe Courtois

 

15. Jean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft International

Courtois is one of Microsoft's up and comers, particularly as sales outside North America increase.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 15. Jean-Philippe Courtois

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 14. Kevin Johnson

 

14. Kevin Johnson, President, Platforms & Services Division

Operationally, Johnson is hugely influential. But some of his underlings have more direct influence over product strategy, particularly operating systems. There's no shame in a leader standing behind his best people.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 14. Kevin Johnson

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 13. Rick Rashid

 

13. Rick Rashid, Senior Vice President, Research

Rashid is charged with running Microsoft's worldwide research operation. Microsoft Research is a rocket ship reaching escape velocity. The division showcases Microsoft's best talent, develops amazing new technologies and brings great respect to the company. Rashid's present and future influence is immeasurable.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 13. Rick Rashid

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 12. Bill Hilf

 

12. Bill Hilf, General Manager, Platform Strategy

Hilf is one of Microsoft's rarer commodities: He is a thought leader and operational influencer. He is at the center of some of Microsoft's best work on interoperability, at a time when the company seeks to improve its credibility in this area.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 12. Bill Hilf

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 11. Robbie Bach

 

11. Robbie Bach, President, Entertainment & Devices Division

The number of influencers on the list from Bach's division is commentary enough about his influence. Entertainment & Devices is changing Microsoft's go-to-market strategy everywhere.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 11. Robbie Bach

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 10. Bob Muglia

 

10. Bob Muglia, Senior Vice President, Server and Tools Business

The future is Muglia's, if the launches of the 2008 versions of SQL Server, Visual Studio and Windows Server go well. Infrastructure software isn't sexy, yet some of Microsoft's best marketing campaigns have been for its server software.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 10. Bob Muglia

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 9. Steven Sinofsky

 

9. Steven Sinofsky, Senior Vice President, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group

The former Office go-to man is responsible for cleaning up the mess left by Windows Vista. Vista's successor, Windows Seven, needs to get to market in a timely way and without all the baggage, some of which is code and practical logistics. Already, Sinofsky is bringing renewed discipline to Windows development and laying the foundation for Microsoft's emerging Windows Vista plus Windows Live strategy.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 9. Steven Sinofsky

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 8. J Allard

 

8. J Allard, Corporate Vice President, Design and Development, Entertainment and Devices Division

Allard is Microsoft's rising rock star--he's transformed from geek to cool geek. While best known for Zune, Allard's responsibilities and influence are much broader. His challenges are equally broad, as he seeks to make more Microsoft products cool.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 8. J Allard

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 7. Brian McAndrews

 

7. Brian McAndrews, Senior Vice President, Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group

McAndrews is a relative Microsoft newcomer, but he is responsible for one of the company's most strategic growth areas. The former aQquantive CEO joined Microsoft during the ad company's acquisition last year. Microsoft invested $6 billion in aQuantive, so the pressure is on McAndrews to deliver results.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 7. Brian McAndrews

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 6. Chris Liddell

 

6. Chris Liddell, Chief Financial Officer

Microsoft runs one of the fiscally tightest ships on the planet. Any person responsible for the money is going to be influential. Liddell continues Microsoft's long tradition of frugality while embracing a new era of risk: Microsoft is on an acquisitions spree. His Wall Street guidance in the face of economic uncertainties will hugely affect Microsoft, its partners and world markets.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 6. Chris Liddell

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 5. Brad Smith

 

5. Brad Smith, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, Legal & Corporate Affairs

Microsoft is a company under the oversight of European and U.S. trustbusters, and some Microsofties joke that the ratio of lawyers to employees is 1:1. But Smith's influence is much larger than Microsoft's legal problems. Under his leadership, Microsoft adopted a more conciliatory approach and sought to work more cooperatively with governments. Smith is the voice of reason and cooperation for people inside and outside Microsoft.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 5. Brad Smith

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 4. Steve Ballmer

 

4. Steve Ballmer, CEO

Microsoft's chief executive isn't the company's chief influencer. In fact, his influence is declining as he takes on more of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' outside speaking and customer engagements. Ballmer is still the man in charge--and he's a reckoning force--but his responsibilities are increasingly larger than day-to-day operations.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 4. Steve Ballmer

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 3. Lisa Brummell

 

3. Lisa Brummell, Senior Vice President, Human Resources

It's not surprising that the head of human resources would be an influencer--except perhaps in the case of Brummell. Brummel's roots aren't HR. Prior to her current position, she worked for 10 years in Microsoft's Home & Retail division. But she's known within Microsoft as being a people person and astute networker. Her presence and personality carry huge influence.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 3. Lisa Brummell

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 2. Ray Ozzie

 

2. Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect

Ray "Man with a plan" Ozzie is transforming Microsoft from within. Outside Microsoft, he's known as the person responsible for the forward-thinking services strategy. Within some quarters of Microsoft, he is known for building out the services vision and platform, while letting other executives take credit. It's not Ozzie talking up newer services, but leaders like Jeff Raikes or Kevin Johnson. Ozzie is Microsoft's plumber.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 2. Ray Ozzie

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 1. Kevin Turner

 

1. Kevin Turner, COO

Microsoft's chief operating officer lives up to his name: He's the person most responsible for day-to-day operations, and that means influence. The former Wal-Mart executive brings important logistical management experience to Microsoft. More importantly, he has succeeded as COO while other outsiders have floundered in the role.

The 25 Most Influential People at Microsoft - 1. Kevin Turner

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