Major responsibilities to the mystique of M&A

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MicrospottingThe ‘Softie in question: Seth PedersenSeth points out his next stop.

The job title: Human Resources Manager for Mergers & Acquisitions

You’ve worked at Microsoft nearly 9 years, but you’re also an army reservist and scheduled to mobilize in early 2011. 
Yes, I am a major in the Army Reserves, and this will be my second mobilization since I’ve been with Microsoft. I’m a logistics officer and manage the flow and transportation of units’ equipment.

I’ll be in Pakistan and Jordan. Most cargo and supplies are going into Afghanistan via ground transportation. Since Afghanistan is a landlocked country, equipment needs to be offloaded at a port, and Pakistan has the closest one used. The equipment arrives there, travels through Pakistan and then it finds its way to where it needs to go. My job will be to help make the process faster, smoother and provide better in-transit visibility to folks…whether it’s humanitarian aid, rebuilding and reconstruction materials, food, whatever it may be.

You mentioned this is your second mobilization while at Microsoft. How has Microsoft supported your military service?
"Well” is the short answer.

Over the years I’ve participated in groups here that support military activity from current members that are in the Guard and Reserve to veterans. There is a huge community that provides a lot of support for each other.

When I go on a military leave of absence, I have a case manager. I’ve seen the care they have toward folks that are going out on military leave, if it’s two weeks in the summer or if it’s a year and beyond.

And I feel comfortable that when I leave that my family is going to be taken care of. I’ve got a lot of friends in small businesses, and there are questions about the viability of companies maintaining a helpful structure while you are away. If it’s a small business of like 15 to 25 people, it’s hard. There is what we want to do, and there are the realities of business. But we are big enough that we support those serving, no matter what.

No, this isn't how Mergers & Aquisitions works at Microsoft! This is Seth at his other job.You work in Mergers & Acquisitions and have worked on the purchases of Great Plains, Navision, aQuantive, and Musiwave to name a few.

We know the M&A team doesn’t ride in tanks (as seen to the left, in your other job), but nevertheless, the job of Mergers & Aquisitions always seems a bit mysterious. What’s your role?
I work on the venture integration HR team. My job is to focus on people-related transaction activities and the employee experience—and make newly acquired employees’ lives easier in the transition so that they can focus on their work.

I look at it from a very simplistic view. Anything we buy, there’s three parts to it: there’s the people; the technology, product or service; and then there’s what we can do and build in the future with the technology, product or service. And it’s all predicated off the people. And so, for me, the people are the most important asset, and our ability to preserve and create an employee experience that gets them from the whole dynamic of an acquisition and a transaction to becoming highly motivated, productive employees in the new environment—so we can recognize the value of that transaction—is pretty awesome.

Pakistan and Redmond are two very different worlds with two very different career tracks. Are there any similarities that you draw between the two?
For me, I’ve got a mission in both roles. I’ve got stakeholders. I’ve got customers who I need to do advance planning with…who I need to keep informed, who I need to do coordination with, who I need to maintain relationships with. And I need to consistently update my knowledge base about what is going on within their vertical work streams. I am able to leverage my skills, competencies and experiences across both my work at Microsoft and in the military to benefit both—which is a great and rewarding feeling.

I love the opportunity that I can achieve a balance of having both a civilian career and a military career where I get fulfillment out of both. I am able to be successful in what I do across both spaces, and I feel blessed for the opportunity. That’s why I do it. That’s why I still serve. 

Work at Microsoft!

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