Jordyn Turner and Tyler Ross share their thoughts on planning and touring Microsoft’s China Center One- the tech giant’s Beijing-based hub for innovation and product development. Read more here:
I recently organized an event for over twenty of my fellow Scholars during which we had the opportunity to tour Microsoft’s China Center One, the tech giant’s Beijing-based hub for innovation and product development. In addition to touring the facilities and getting an early look at new products ranging from instant translation software to the HoloLens VR headset, we had the opportunity to sit down with some of the company’s most senior leadership for an incredible discussion. The idea for the event came shortly after inviting several of my classmates to Thanksgiving dinner at the home of a family friend I’d connected with in Beijing, Katharine Bostick. Kathy is the Assistant General Legal Counsel as well as the Director of Compliance, Legal & Corporate Affairs for Microsoft Greater China Region, and she has been with the company for 16 years. She and her office were extremely receptive to the idea of bringing scholars in to learn more about Microsoft and tech in China, and so we collaborated to put together a visit that would be informative, fun, and give attendees an opportunity to engage with executives and employees from Microsoft who would provide us with a unique perspective and insight into tech in China. We had an incredible tour of the facilities followed by an afternoon of Q&A and dialogue with a panel of Microsoft Great China executives including the Chairman and CEO, the CFO, the Vice President, the General Manager of Marketing & Operations, and the General Manager of Business Solutions. It was an engaging afternoon during which I learned about the tech industry, Microsoft, and its approach to the Chinese market. It turned out to be an incredible experience for everyone involved!
Despite not having any engineering or computer science background, I’ve always been a fairly tech-savvy person, so I jumped at the opportunity to tour Microsoft’s China headquarters. What I didn’t expect, however, was to learn so much about the company’s social and innovative enterprises, nor did I expect to have the chance to hear directly from Microsoft’s senior leadership about the company’s past, present, and future both in China and globally. The experience proved to be simultaneously entertaining, eye-opening, and informative.
In response to one Scholar’s question, for example, Alain Crozier, CEO of the Greater China Region, offered a remarkably candid assessment of some of Microsoft’s shortcomings in past decade. But speaking of the company’s trajectory under CEO Satya Nadella, he also told us, “It’s not everyday that you get to reinvent yourself as the world’s biggest startup with the deepest pockets and the brightest minds around.”
During the visit, we also had the opportunity to learn about the range of work that Microsoft does, from monitoring to the spread of viruses and “botnets” around the globe to providing facial recognition technology to local governments to help assist with identifying missing children. Given that so many of Microsoft’s products have been pirated in China, we also learned about how the company was able to come up with outside-the-box solutions to intellectual property issues and ways to make people who would be otherwise inclined to use unauthorized versions of Microsoft software paying customers. Finally, Microsoft’s lawyers have had a vested interest in the development of intellectual property courts in China, and the aspiring attorneys among the Scholars were offered examples of simply how far China’s courts have come in recent years. I think we all left inspired by the scope of projects that Microsoft is working on in China and impressed by how much we all learned.