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Microsoft boomerang, Paolo Tosolini reflects on returning to the company, working as a Project Manager in Office and Windows Media and as a New Media Business Manager.
Living Computers: How did you end up at Microsoft?
Paolo Tosolini: I worked for MS twice (2001-2004 and 2007-2009). In between I did contract work and to this date, MS has been my main client since I opened my own creative agency in 2014, Tosolini Productions (http://tosolini.com).
LCM+L: What’s your Microsoft history? What groups, roles and projects did you work on during your tenure?
PT: My first time in MS I was a PM in Office and Windows Media. When I returned a few years later, I got hired as a New Media Business Manager in the Enterprise sales group called EPG. I oversaw a newly created video platform called Academy Mobile. Think of YouTube for MS employees who wanted to share knowledge and learn valuable skills from each other.
LCM+L: What does Microsoft mean to you?
PT: MS has been a great professional school for me. It challenged me to think big in ways that I wasn’t used to. In my second stint, I was privileged to operate with the same velocity of a startup, but with the resources of a large corporation. That kind of freedom led me to an award by then CEO Steve Ballmer for 2008 Digital Marketing Excellence.
LCM+L: What, in your opinion, pushed Microsoft forward to where it is today?
PT: Microsoft’s success is the result of amazing and consistent efforts to become a leading player in the enterprise space. When I think of MS, I see solutions for making our life more productive through software and services.
LCM+L: What was your favorite thing you got to do in your role or be a part of?
PT: Launching the internal video platform Academy Mobile was one of the highlights of my MS times. We operated like a financially sustainable entity within the organization. We had a salesforce to promote our video production services, an independent studio, all sort of equipment to crowdsource content from employees, and a lot of latitude to operate.
LCM+L: What was one team or project that you followed that you weren’t directly connected to?
PT: I always admired MSR (MS Research) since they were inventing the future, regardless of whether their ideas would ever land on the market. I was fascinated by their annual internal demo day, where you could see Bill Gates and other execs roaming the rooms curious about the next big breakthrough.
LCM+L: What’s your favorite Microsoft stat or nugget of information that you think is worth sharing?
PT: One of the best practices I did as an employee (and later as a vendor), was to go and eat lunch in different cafeterias all the times. It was an opportunity to discover new buildings, get a feeling of the atmosphere, and serendipitously meet former co-workers. It’s easy to get trapped sometimes and see always the same people, day after day. Being a bit of an extrovert pays off in the long term, since colleagues move on to various jobs and you lose track of your network.
LCM+L: What was your first computer?
PT: It was a ZX Spectrum 48K. Before then I learned how to program in RPN using an HP41CV.