How Satya Nadella Worked His Way To The Top At Microsoft

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2006 - Promoted To Head Of Microsoft Business Solutions

In September, Nadella is named to replace Doug Burgum as senior vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions, capping a nearly year-long search for Burgum's replacement.


Microsoft looked at external and internal candidates but ultimately decided that Nadella was best qualified for the job, explains Jeff Raikes, then-president of Microsoft's Business Division. "We went through literally dozens of candidates for the role and at end of the day concluded Satya was best for the job," he says on a conference call.

On the call, Nadella notes that Dynamics ERP and CRM are now profitable, adding that he intends to enlist the Microsoft channel to help drive market share for the products. "I'm really looking forward to continued progress on both the R&D side and by selling our products through our partner channel in very profitable way," Nadella says.

2007 -- Tapped To Lead Search And Ad Platform Group


Just six months after being named head of Microsoft Business Solutions, Nadella is tapped to lead Microsoft's newly formed Search and Ad Platform group. Microsoft says the surprise organizational move is aimed at aligning its search and ad platform efforts under one research-and-development leader.


Nadella gets a new boss, Kevin Johnson, president of the Platform Services Division -- but Johnson will leave to become CEO of Juniper the following year.


 2009 -- On Front Lines Explaining Bing Outages


In December 2009, Nadella is senior vice president of research and development for Microsoft's Online Service Division, overseeing the cloud infrastructure that underpins the company's search, portal and advertising systems.


In one of his first challenges in this role, Nadella gets out in front of a 30-minute Bing outage that has critics questioning Microsoft's ability to mega-scale services, explaining in detail what went wrong.


"The cause of the outage was a configuration change during some internal testing that had unfortunate and unintended consequences," Nadella says in a blog post. "As soon as the issue was detected, the change was rolled back, which caused the site to return to normal behavior. Unfortunately the detection and rollback took about half an hour, and during that time users were unable to use"


2011 -- Appointed Head Of Server And Tools Division


A month after Microsoft veteran Bob Muglia is ousted from the role, Nadella is named head of Microsoft's Server and Tools unit, the biggest part of the company from a revenue standpoint. He wins the job over Amitabh Srivastava, senior vice president in the Server and Tools Business, who then leaves Microsoft.


In an email to employees, Ballmer says Nadella's diverse skill set will help keep the Server and Tools cash cow performing well. "He has strong collaboration skills, is decisive in both decision-making and delegating, and has strong customer insights, engineering and business expertise. He also knows how to structure organizations for outstanding performance," Ballmer says in the email.


In fiscal 2012, Nadella lead the Server and Tools unit to $19 billion in revenue.




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