International Development Center Series: London

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 ‘Softie in Question: Mike Miles
Position at Microsoft: Principle Group Program Manager
Group: Bing
Location: London

Quick rundown on you role, your team, and a bit about yourself:
I have a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics and have worked in the software industry for the last 20+ (yikes!) years. I started my career as a developer and worked my way up to a director level engineering manager at a medium sized start-up before joining Microsoft. Ten years ago, I joined Microsoft and helped lead some of our new STB projects in Microsoft’s then most recent acquisition, WebTV.  I spent the next seven years in online services, primarily MSN (this when both Windows Live and Bing were still part of MSN) and three years ago, became the third or fourth employee of a brand new group within Bing – Search Technology Center (STC) Europe.

Currently, I am a Group Program Manager for STC Europe and have two different teams and roles.  First, I lead a PM team responsible for the global development of some Bing’s more interesting features – Auto Suggest, Related Search, Speller and ‘Combined Alterations’. Collectively, we refer to these features as Query Formulation and our core mission is to help refine and improve the quality of the user’s query and thereby increase the satisfaction the user has with their search session on Bing.

Second, I lead a team responsible for ensuring that Bing’s entire engineering team understands and prioritizes the quality and feature improvements that help make our international markets successful. It’s an interesting fast-paced role and I’ve been lucky to work alongside a tremendously strong SDE team to lead an outstanding organization of ~25 PMs and international SDETs who are passionate about Bing and the opportunity to make a difference to the 100s of millions of users word-wide and the 10s of billions of queries that they generate every year.

Tell me more about the Microsoft offices in London?
Our London office is one of 5 main offices for STC-Europe; others are in Munich DE, Paris FR, Wroclaw PL and Bellevue WA.  All of our offices have a unique culture and product focus but all offices have a definite start-up feel and passion about the Bing product and  search industry overall. The focus of the London office is on Query Formulation as mentioned above.   The team is very diverse talent wise – we have Editors, Testers, Program Managers, Developers, Machine Learning and Information Retrieval expertise, and quite a few PhDs on the team.  We are quite culturally diverse as well – in our London office, we have people who speak French, Polish, German, Italian, Spanish, Catalan and, of course, English.  And the sense of team is very strong, we play football after hours, foosball during breaks and aren’t afraid to have a pint (or two) after work.

What is it like to work at Microsoft in one of our subsidiary offices compared to working in the US Headquarters?
Working in one of the Subs is a great experience. Team members are much more connected with the business and given the relatively small team size, it’s easy to influence product direction and make an impact.  While we are well connected with Bing’s ‘core team’ in Bellevue, we maintain a fair amount of autonomy in terms of setting direction, pace and culture of our team.  And of course, we also have strong relationships with other remote sites in Hyderabad, Beijing, and Silicone Valley and of course our other STC-Europe offices

What was the reason you considered applying to Microsoft?  How did you find out about the specific role you are currently in right now? 
I’ve been in Microsoft for almost 10 years now and what interested me originally was the breadth of products that Microsoft is involved in, the diversity of technology used across the company, the variety of disciplines and backgrounds across the company, the leadership position that Microsoft enjoys in a multiplicity of business segments and the opportunities all of that allows for career development.

My first role for the company was leading the development of a new STC for MSN TV (Microsoft’s acquisition of WebTV).  This was a challenging role for me since it was the first consumer focused product that I’ve been involved in and the project was quit complex, comprising hardware, embedded systems, client and  server elements and distribution channel.  I have had very diverse roles in the company since then and that career diversity is one of the things that keeps me excited about Microsoft. I was lucky enough to have good relationships with our then VP and who encouraged me to explore a role in our new offices in Europe.  I spoke to a number of people about the role and plans for STC-Europe and was hooked. It’s been a fantastic role for me and has been a great opportunity for my family.

Any tips to job seekers around the world interested in relocating to London and working at Microsoft?
We are always recruiting and currently hiring in STC Europe’s London, Munich and Bellevue offices. If we don’t have a position that currently matches your interests and experience, it’s possible that we will again in the near future.  We are looking for anyone with expertise, experience and passion to build a world-class Search product with a special focus on Developers who have Machine Learning, Information Retrieval or related Computer Science background.  I need to provide updated contact information.

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