Microsoft’s corporate credo, “Your potential. Our passion,” became highly personal for Pradeep U.N. (MBA ’03) upon entering grad school. With professional aspirations squarely focused on Microsoft, this former Computer Associates consultant chose a university that was also widely regarded for its global reputation in technology innovation. So committed was he to solidifying a talent pipeline, that Pradeep set about creating an impressive alliance between Tepper and Microsoft once he joined the company as a product manager.
A Tepper/Microsoft Facebook as well as corporate shadowing were created for Tepper MBAs. However, Pradeep’s sights were set on the coveted Microsoft internship slots, of which only around 60 are given out each year. To showcase students’ analytical abilities to Microsoft’s senior managers and execs, Pradeep organized the 2006 Microsoft Services MBA Case Competition in which 60 students from 15 teams competed for two summer internship positions.
“I wrote both a qualitative and a quantitative case using actual business data,” said Pradeep, now Offering Lead for Microsoft Services’ Worldwide SharePoint Offerings team. “Over a four-week period, the teams held conference calls with senior managers and directors to get clarification, work through their problems and submit their presentations. Eight teams were chosen to present their solutions via teleconference to some of Microsoft top executives for the finals.”
Two winning teams were flown to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington where they presented to chief technology officer Norm Judah and three general managers and also took part in final round internship interviews. Microsoft recruiters found the students to be so outstanding that three Tepper students, not two, of them were offered internships in 2007. And four Tepper MBAs will be joining Microsoft full-time in the summer of 2008 as product managers.
In 2007, the competition expanded to include students from the Tepper MBA program as well as the Tuck School of Business and participation swelled to 150. Now called “Project Firenze” within the company, 60 students from Tuck and 90 students from Tepper tackled current problems faced by Microsoft Services, with the Tepper teams tasked with how to capitalize on the explosive growth of technology in Brazil, presenting their solutions to judges from Microsoft’s Latin American headquarters. The winning teams from Tuck and the Tepper School participated in the Redmond Leadership Experience, where members from both schools were mixed to solve a new problem while being observed by Microsoft general managers who coached and critiqued them.
“The consensus is that the case competition is an innovative way to get new leaders into the company,” said Pradeep. “And we’ll know they’re leaders because we’ve actually tested them with our business issues. It worked so well it has become an annual event.”