A story of obscene PM bloat at Microsoft 🤷🏻‍♀️😱

Amazon m37uj8
Feb 2, 2018 49 Comments

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!!

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TOP 49 Comments
  • Microsoft Hooligan16
    lol, been at microsoft longer than that and in Windows. Pure fantasy story telling.
    Feb 2, 2018 7
    • Microsoft Hooligan16
      What is cruise automation?
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Cruise Automation / Eng Cruising90
      Bing doesn’t do search anymore? Try Google may be?
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Facebook jacks
      Cruise is pretty well known actually
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Microsoft
      Fjjdjdh

      Microsoft

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      Amazon
      Fjjdjdhmore
      Yea cruise is well known. That was a pretty stupid attempt at an insult/joke and probably just ended up showing your ignorance.
      Feb 3, 2018
    • Cruise Automation / Eng
      Glad to hear cruise is well known - I actually hadn't heard of it before I got contacted by a recruiter 🤣
      Feb 10, 2018
  • Nvidia zVEC05
    This is pretty standard at Microsoft. Though most groups don't have that many PMs, but 95% of them are equally useless. Most of the good PM's I've met told me they found the less they do & the more they bullshit with their manager & skip the better their career goes.

    One showed me a doc once: "The Art of Project Management at Microsoft"; one of it's golden rules: "don't help people"; the logic was if you helped people they would ask you to do work & then might expect help in the future. It was best to ignore requests until they went away.
    Feb 2, 2018 0
  • Microsoft BigNail
    TL;DR please, AH?
    Feb 2, 2018 3
    • Adobe / Eng photoslop
      2 paragraphs?? Damn, thanks for reinforcing the MSFT stereotype.
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Microsoft BigNail
      Thanks for reinforcing the Oracle paradigm: lots of BS, no value
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Adobe / Eng photoslop
      LOL, and illiterate??
      Feb 2, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng MarioBros4
    This story seems exaggerated at best. How would you know for instance these people did nothing for years on end. Why did you not try to impact the customers if those around you were doing nothing?
    Feb 2, 2018 5
    • Microsoft
      Fjjdjdh

      Microsoft

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      Amazon
      Fjjdjdhmore
      Wow that’s a pretty good catch
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng MarioBros4
      And why would it matter if they're white males? My snowflake detector is beeping like crazy. If any part of this story is true, OP fits in very nicely.
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Amazon m37uj8
      OP
      What I said was “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.” That’s what a coworker who had been there 5+ years trying to work her way up the ladder confided to me when I asked how they still had their jobs. If you’re one of those guys and your friends up the management chain can protect you during Connect, you can do no work for years at Microsoft.
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng MarioBros4
      Ok basing your career on office gossip and race/gender/age stereotyping got it
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Amazon m37uj8
      OP
      Her perspective was not too hard to validate based on what was going on around me...
      Feb 2, 2018
  • Microsoft
    Fjjdjdh

    Microsoft

    PRE
    Amazon
    Fjjdjdhmore
    I previously worked at Amazon among other companies. This sounds like a pretty crazy exaggeration at best in the same ways that folks exaggerated the “crying at your desk” at Amazon. I’ve never experienced the things you’re claiming and they seem like pretty made up stories by a new grad kid.
    Feb 2, 2018 4
    • Amazon m37uj8
      OP
      I’m not a new grad, I’m almost 30. But continue to pretend this problem doesn’t exist because “whiny new grads” or “millennials.”
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Microsoft
      Fjjdjdh

      Microsoft

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      Amazon
      Fjjdjdhmore
      7 months seems astonishingly fast. Your story sounds credible now that you’ve stated you were on UST, but I’m unclear how reflective this is across Microsoft. I did a stint in what is now called people tech at amazon before joining AWS. People tech was amongst the worst organizations I’ve ever experienced. Its reputation is astonishingly low. UST seems to have that reputation at Microsoft also. So it’s unclear to me that it’s a company thing rather than every company can have screwed up orgs. Stay away from people tech. I had a great experience on AWS but that wasn’t true of everyone that I’ve met. I’ve also heard bad things about certain groups on Wilkes//hereingtons side.
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Amazon m37uj8
      OP
      I wish I had left faster but I wanted to give it a fair shot. I left on my own accord after interviewing and finding a new opportunity. I got lucky in that I was able to find a great opportunity quickly. Couldn’t take it anymore and despite trying to keep a positive outlook didn’t see any chance of the org’s culture changing anytime soon. Some naive people are there waiting years hoping for things to change and I’m not sure it will happen anytime soon.
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      IIIIiIe

      Amazon Eng

      BIO
      Ask and I might answer ;)
      IIIIiIemore
      Maybe a change in attitude is needed not to be perceived as whiny and/or millenial. Saying that "you wasted your life" for 7 months you stayed there is simple drama and exaggeration. Try to find the positive out of that negative experience as, I'm sure, you learned something out of it. That's growth... Then move on and keep in the look for your great job. FYI, every place you go has good and bad things. You clearly landed in a not too desirable team, but that doesn't mean the whole company is like that. I could say the same about the company I currently work. I find that some teams are awesome, and others are very bad top to bottom. Would that make the whole company bad? Not in my book.
      Feb 3, 2018
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Microsoft NhMR62
      Can confirm, in AI/R there seem to be very few PMs and the few I know are really good
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Microsoft DrSheik
      +1 to AI/R. Just moved there from WDG. Feels like a new company where people actually care about technology
      Feb 2, 2018
  • Amazon nWep84
    I am a guy, in the eastside, in my 40s and have many Microsoft friends - looking at the long hours and weekends they work, it sounds like you ended up in one of the 70% of the orgs in MS.

    Heard that’s how all orgs were in the past. Satya is changing that so people get to do more fulfilling work and save Microsoft from a slow death.

    I’ve been at Amazon for over 4 yrs and can never imagine joining such a group. Although MS is getting better.

    Watch out at Amazon as well - it’s all about the leadership.
    Feb 2, 2018 1
    • Amazon m37uj8
      OP
      Thank you! This is helpful perspective. I am very afraid of running into another org like that in my career, even outside of Microsoft.
      Feb 2, 2018
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Amazon m37uj8
      OP
      I’m not a guy and no I didn’t steal coconut water.
      Feb 2, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng
    IIIIiIe

    Amazon Eng

    BIO
    Ask and I might answer ;)
    IIIIiIemore
    Seems a very exaggerated story sprinkled with some Millennial flavor... I worked at Microsoft for quite a long time, in different divisions including WDG, and my teams always did and delivered (and on time!)
    Feb 2, 2018 0
  • Microsoft uEVI85
    My wdg group has a 1/24 pm/dev ratio and our pm is constantly overloaded
    Mind sending some of yours our way
    Feb 2, 2018 0
  • Microsoft Heifbfis
    You joined and left in 7 months?

    That’s rough
    Feb 2, 2018 1
    • Amazon m37uj8
      OP
      7 months too long. Wasted my life and a good 7 months of my career growth. I did accept responsibility, acknowledged my mistake and I got the heck out of there. Never going back.

      It’s hard to see what the culture is truly like from the outside looking in.
      Feb 2, 2018
  • Microsoft / Sales
    Flander

    Microsoft Sales

    PRE
    Google
    Flandermore
    And hence why wdg is a sinking ship. Thanks for trying.
    Feb 2, 2018 0
  • Microsoft / Eng
    BrahmaDeva

    Microsoft Eng

    PRE
    HP Inc
    BIO
    Just a great guy 💁🏽‍♂️. PM me for details
    BrahmaDevamore
    Never seen a more fucked up lazy one sided view. You deserve to be working in Amazon and keep the world spinning. It’s amazing how people bring in their closed mentality masquerading as some noble hard working individual.
    It’s a horrible attempt at painting all of WDG in one broad stroke.
    What did you want to achieve with this post sweetie?
    Feb 2, 2018 2
    • Amazon / Eng MarioBros4
      Brahma Deva fucked up to use the word "sweetie" in your post but op should start tracking her own career growth not blaming her bad situation on hundreds of other people she works with
      Feb 3, 2018
    • Microsoft / Eng
      BrahmaDeva

      Microsoft Eng

      PRE
      HP Inc
      BIO
      Just a great guy 💁🏽‍♂️. PM me for details
      BrahmaDevamore
      Mario - grow a pair of balls
      Feb 5, 2018
  • Costco / Eng
    zaphod99

    Costco Eng

    PRE
    Microsoft
    zaphod99more
    My wife’s a PM at MSFT she works her butt off. Probably the only true thing mentioned is that we live in Woodinville and drink lots of wine! 🍷
    Feb 2, 2018 1
    • eBay Blurman
      Costco wine? Jus kidding
      Feb 2, 2018
  • Microsoft Free!
    I can’t believe that there are other people who felt the same. Anyway, people I would say if you got a job offer from wdg your worst time has started. After 8 months of high degree politics, got another job offer and I m out! May God bless wdg n ms!
    Feb 21, 2018 0
  • Microsoft 7.8.10
    Exactly same experience in wdg, but more on business side. Extremely slow and political. Wdg is full of free riding grand fathers and grand mothers doing reorgs every month. If you set up a meeting, 70% of the attendees will have a doctor’s appointments or something. The office was a ghost town. Horrible is an understatement!
    Feb 17, 2018 0
  • Microsoft Got out
    Had the same experience and got out. I couldn’t use anything from my last year in the interview process, such a waste.
    Feb 2, 2018 0
  • Microsoft Wxkycgx
    Sounds a bit exaggerated but I had similar experience as far back as 15 years ago when I worked in Office. Up until recently it was the same old boys running the show
    Feb 2, 2018 0
  • Aon Hewitt qTXq04
    Wow that's a horrible experience, in the consulting world is similar in terms of signing deals at their levels and then they bring in their minions to do the work 😬
    Feb 2, 2018 0
  • Microsoft Heifbfis
    Which group were you in?
    Feb 2, 2018 2
    • Amazon m37uj8
      OP
      UST
      Feb 2, 2018
    • Microsoft Heifbfis
      That partially explains your pain.

      Microsoft is HUGE. Each org is comparable to a diff company in the valley. Culture and situation varies from team to team.

      Reorg also plays a critical role and often costs one release cycle.
      Feb 2, 2018

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