Teresa Carlson has been with Microsoft since 2002. In September 2008, Carlson was tapped vice president of Microsoft's US federal government business. Carlson hit the ground running. It was the middle of the quarter, and the presidential transition wasn't far off. “I just had to roll the sleeves up, and take the strategy that I knew we needed to be successful,“ she says. Carlson also marked two personal successes this past year. “I got my son through his first year at West Point, and my second son marked his sixteenth birthday,“ she says, “so, two big milestones.“
Carlson’s Top Tips:
- Roll up your sleeves. “Lead from the front, know your business relentlessly, and don't accept anything but great customer satisfaction,“ says Carlson.
- Have an open door policy. “Work with your teams, support them when they have challenges,“ she says.
- Think strategically, act tactically. “You have to strategically know the direction you're going in, and what tactics to take to advance your strategy,“ she adds.
- Build relationships. “Most women who are great leaders in federal contracting build relationships,“ says Carlson.
- Do philanthropic work. “Everyone needs to find their passion,“ says Carlson, whose volunteer activities include work for the Red Cross, NIH Childrens' Inn, the USO, and the Women's Center.
What Carlson is saying:
BEST CAREER ADVICE: “It may sound a little Pollyannaish but, truly, the best career advice came from my mother. She was a teacher and an administrator; even today, at 82, she's still very involved in the community. She would always say, “˜Get up every day, do the best job you can with a lift in your step, and never let your directs see you down.'“
ON GROOMING FUTURE LEADERS: “Our most important vertical market at Microsoft is education. If we don't shape young minds, we're not doing the right thing. Initiatives like Digigirlz push IT for girls. This isn't just about females; we don't have enough IT people, men or women, in the United States. It's an issue we're going to have to deal with.“
WORK-LIFE BALANCE: “As a mother, I've always been able to achieve that. Easily? No. I've done a good job blending both. That may not work for everyone; it has worked for me. I just got a card from my sophomore at West Point, he said: “˜Mom, I thought a lot about you this past year, you always had these big jobs but that never got in the way of you being my mom.' I just bawled. For women, especially in this fast-paced area, it's important to balance your needs. It's never going to be perfect. We're not living in the 1950s anymore.“
WHAT’S AHEAD: “With this new government, it's absolutely about efficiencies of IT “¦ moving IT from just a CIO perspective to a business “” and mission “” capability. We'll also be moving our business model to support the government through a cloud-based model with tools like business productivity online services, email exchange, SharePoint collaboration in the cloud, as well as cloud development services like Azure.“