Leadership Outside the Lines Series: Finding My Way Toward Everyday Impact at Microsoft

By: Sonali George | October 15, 2018

In this special blog series, we are featuring stories from our 2018 Net Impact Conference partners about how individuals at their organizations are going outside the lines to make an impact from any position. Microsoft is a sponsor of the upcoming 2018 Net Impact Conference in Phoenix, AZ October 25-27th. 

We are living in the fourth industrial revolution characterized by a fusion of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, robotics, and quantum computing. These disruptive technologies are enabled by the powerful, ubiquitous, and inexpensive cloud solutions that reside in datacenters. While this revolution creates opportunity and connection for billions, improves efficiencies in every field, and transforms healthcare, it presents societal challenges like massive disruption in labor markets, widening economic inequality, a widening digital divide, and increasing challenges to protect privacy. To that end, we all – corporations, government, and individuals – must recognize that with this great power comes great responsibility. 

Microsoft understands this responsibility and is committed to investing in the long-term health of communities where it operates. Datacenter Community Development (DCCD) is an initiative within the company’s Cloud + AI division that focuses on empowering people and organizations in datacenter communities. DCCD partners with local governments, nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses, and schools to understand the needs of the community and match those needs to Microsoft programs and resources that can help advance social opportunity, enhance economic growth, reduce digital divide, and support environmental sustainability. As a program manager for DCCD, I am excited to work on projects that help Microsoft solve real societal problems in these complex times of the current industrial revolution.

I am fortunate to have found a career where I can channel my passion for social impact. When I joined the MBA program at University of Arizona, I was under the impression that I should work for a nonprofit in order to follow my dreams of making a positive impact in the community. During the first year of my MBA studies, I served as the Net Impact Chapter President and discovered opportunities to learn about purpose-driven corporations that solve social issues through their work. For a long time, I was torn about whether I should pursue a career in the nonprofit sector or work for a purpose-driven corporation. While I was working on an MBA consulting project for Microsoft, I found out about the company’s long history of giving back to the community and its different initiatives to empower others to achieve more. As a summer intern here, I discovered a sense of purpose in the work I was doing and realized that my personal mission is very much aligned to the company’s mission. Now, as a full-time Project Manager since February 2018, I have been involved in multiple socially-innovative projects, such as measuring the social impact of Microsoft’s work and developing a new model for community funding. In constantly seeking creative ways to improve communities, taking bias towards action, and pivoting ideas as a result of community engagement makes me feel like I am working for a social startup. But the most exciting part of my job is developing strategies to partner with great organizations like Net Impact to do more good in the world. Our team at Microsoft is partnering with Net Impact this year to design and organize a Community Impact pitch competition for students in the datacenter communities. 

We believe students are force multipliers of community change, and are delighted to partner with students to build stronger communities. Come to the Microsoft expo booth at NI18 to learn more about how you can partner with us to create shared value in your community.

Learn more about Microsoft’s community impact work at the 2018 Net Impact Conference

Sonali George

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