Why did an open source guy pick Microsoft?

For this Silicon Valley hacker, it’s: “People, freedom and impact”

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Mohamed Mansour is a Software Engineer at Bing, focusing on user data and personalization. Here’s what Mohamed loves about his role and what keeps him at Microsoft:

The team.

When finding a job, one of the most important things is the team, and the amount of freedom you will be given. When I heard we had an innovation team here, I was intrigued what that meant. Everyone could be part of it and work with other bright coworkers to create something impactful. That kind of culture, balance between hacking and producing, is what I love.

Before Microsoft, I was doing a lot of hacks around Social Data by creating extensions to improve user experience that many people loved. But they all went down because of unsupported APIs, which was frustrating because I wanted to create new and unique experiences, which I deeply believe is the correct way. Over two million people downloaded my hacks in total and I was surprised. I initially created these user experience improvements for myself, but later on many people loved them as much as I did. At that time, I really wanted to work full time on the stuff I do at home after work, without worrying if my hacks will go to waste.

Freedom.

At Microsoft, what intrigued me the most is amount of freedom your managers give you. One thing that keeps me happy here is the amount of trust. My lead allows me to work on features that are challenging, and he trusts that I can deliver.

When I joined the Bing team, I no longer had to worry that the APIs would be going away. Right before I wrote this post, I submitted my new awesome hack to people on Yammer, to tell me what they think about it. By the end of the day, I had feedback from people saying they loved it. We wanted to incorporate this new feature in our product in front of millions. This happens really frequently, and I love it. I do have my day-to-day objectives to meet, but whenever I have free time in between projects, I spend a couple of days innovating, and my managers allow that, which is beyond cool. Sometimes these hacks turn out to be 60% of my time. The environment in Bing has awesome agility, and the engineering process makes shipping products quick when you put your hands in the right place.

Impact.

As long as I complete my objectives in time, my manager allows me to spend time on stuff I really want to improve. For example:

  • During my first week, I created a hack internally that turned out to be a big thing we shipped: Social Facebook search. Hundreds of people worked on it. We showed it to corporate VPs, and they loved it.
  • I wanted to improve our JavaScript tooling, so I took the initiative to convert Bing to use TypeScript. With the help of many coworkers, now all of our code-base is TypeScript!
  • One time I wanted to change the way we do client-side code coverage. I told my manager I would like to spend a week creating a more agile solution, and now it is being used among all Bing UX teams.

The list could go on and on. None of these features and tools were part of my day-to-day objectives. I just morphed my objectives to add more things I really wanted to do, which were both challenging and impactful. What helped me the most was time management: I keep my tasks up to date so my manager knows what I am currently working on. When I am free, I usually pick up a new task or create my own. And it works out perfectly.

 

On Quora, Mohamed answers the question: Is it a good idea to join Microsoft Mountain View?

See more about how and why Mohamed found a home at Microsoft Silicon Valley.

Sonia, a Silicon Valley-based PM, gives 3 reasons why ideas blossom at Microsoft.

What’s the best part of working on Bing? Why do these Bing engineers love their jobs?

 

See job listings for Microsoft Silicon Valley, and apply.

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