Microsoft's Pip Marlow: the first month

Pip Marlow ascended to the helm of Microsoft Australia in early January following 15 years with the company. A month into the job she spoke to ZDNet Australia about her first month as managing director and her plans for the future.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor

Pip Marlow ascended to the helm of Microsoft Australia in early January following 15 years with the company. A month into the job she spoke to ZDNet Australia about her first month as managing director and her plans for the future.

Microsoft MD, Pip Marlow

Pip Marlow (Credit: Microsoft)

Marlow, a seasoned Microsoft veteran has held no less than five director positions with Microsoft, and said that her first month at the top of the tree has been an exciting to say the least.

"It's certainly been an exciting time. We've spent the majority of the first month out with customers and partners and employees," she said.

In her new role as Microsoft managing director, Marlow is centring her management strategy around three key areas with a specific endgame in mind: to keep Microsoft at the forefront of the cloud market in 2011/12.

The first, says Marlow, is focusing on Microsoft's people.

"We need to make sure we have the right people here to support our customers and that continues the work around employee training to make sure they can go out and help our customers.

"At the heart of any good business is people and that's a top priority," Marlow said.

Despite the internal focus on people, Marlow wouldn't be drawn on whether or not Microsoft Australia would increase its headcount in the next 12 months. Instead, she said that over the next 18 months, Microsoft is set to transition an extra 20 per cent of its engineering workforce into working on the company's cloud developments.

"As we have looked at the business in Australia over the last few years, we have re-engineered several roles to work with cloud," Marlow said.

"70 per cent of our developers today are focused on cloud and that's going to be 90 per cent within the next 12 to 18 months," she added.

Marlow's second and third priorities fall into bolstering its network of channel partners to make them ready to run Microsoft's new product offerings and focusing on internal cloud transformations.

"Certainly I see us putting our resources behind the future of the cloud. We have over 1 billion users using our cloud [products] today … and we have a great pipeline of future products coming," she said.

Commitment to open source, mobile

Marlow said that under her reign, Microsoft is set to soften its approach to open source and preach a new message of interoperability between proprietary systems and open source software.

"We're absolutely committed to interoperability in business [between Microsoft and open source]. When we talk to customers both business and government the conversation centres around value … and how we can help them save money and reach more customers."

Marlow said, however, that despite looking at ways to increase profits, Microsoft is not in the business of scaremongering customers in business or government when confronted with the choice between Microsoft and open source.

"I would never underestimate our customers. Our customers are smart, talented people who are running great businesses and we would never presume to [scaremonger customers with a lack of support] because at the end of the day, we need to stand behind what we do, our products and our support."

Under Marlow's reign, Microsoft hopes to partner with government as it moves forward in its migration to cloud and its new position on open source.

"The policy that the government is using around the cloud is looking for a total value. I think we will work with government more in the future because there's a tremendous amount of opportunity," she said, adding that the National Broadband Network (NBN) presented an enormous value for Microsoft and the government to benefit from.

"If you look at the NBN and what that enables we have an opportunity to help the government with real issues around education, and healthcare, and delivering citizen services," Marlow said.

Finally, Marlow recognises that the opportunity for huge growth in Microsoft's mobile offerings, and plans to work closer with developers to build new Australian-made application offerings for the Windows Marketplace.

"I think the mobile trend is growing and for us we see an opportunity for convergence. People have their phone in their personal life and their business life and you see that trend continuing. We work very closely with our developers."

"We're out there engaging with our developers. Our primary push is to work with developers to help them drive those applications," she added.

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