A story of obscene PM bloat at Microsoft 🤷🏻♀️😱
My former org in the Windows and Devices Group (commonly shortened to WDG) had a ratio of almost 1 PM to 1 Dev as recent as mid-2017. This was a fairly large org and supposed to be one of the more prestigious ones. While there were a few clueless level 59 new grads with no idea what they had got themselves into, most PMs were 10-25 year veterans with little to no experience outside Microsoft in their career. If you look at their LinkedIn it’s just a long column of colored Microsoft squares. Most days they were either out playing golf or not in the office because they were “doing X with their kids” (where X was some new bullshit activity every day). Based on their tenure, title, and sports cars in the parking garage these guys had to be making decent compensation. None of them had any real work responsibility except for being a warm body in meetings with other PMs like them. Their duties included occasionally making a semi-interesting comment in those meetings. They often seemed to know each other outside of work and made comments about drinking wine in Woodinville or something they did in Bellevue. One had a particularly annoying habit of referring to me as “sweetie” when downplaying my attempts to define a new feature or opportunity.
These guys (and yes, they were overwhelmingly older white guys living on the Eastside) did fine on their Connects because their manager was either their buddy outside of work or had known them from a past org at Microsoft and pulled them along. You scratch my back, I scratch yours kinda stuff. I was told these guys were practically untouchable and could not be fired even if they did no work at all for years on end. Completely obscene but honestly not very rare at Microsoft so I’m told. How long can this continue and how is this sustainable? After about 7 months of trying to keep my head up and hope for the best I couldn’t take it anymore and got out. My team did not ship a single feature of any size in that time. We also did not have any measurable impact on customers or the bottom line. I felt like I was in a real-life dystopian nightmare. Worst of all I didn’t gain any applicable experience because my org talked a lot about doing things and had lots of meetings about doing things... but never actually did anything!!