Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why I Left Microsoft


I wrote this post a while ago and never posted it.  However now is as good as ever, especially given my distance to the situation.

  1. I didn't want to be in Seattle - This was a relatively minor reason but a reason nonetheless.  I am at the point in my career that I was seriously thinking about what to do the next five years.  Being in Seattle wasn't really on the list of things.

  2. Broken promises - I came to Microsoft with certain expectations and certain things were told to me would happen.  They didn't happen.  I'll leave it at that.

  3. I just didn't enjoy work - I know it is work, and that you shouldn't expect it to be a party all the time, but I'm the type of person who wants to really enjoy my work.  Give that I am the type of person who works long hours and spends most of my time at work, it is important that I enjoy what I do.

  4. The wrong things are rewarded - I saw a few instances of people being recognized for things and behaviors which I just didn't think were appropriate.  It honestly seemed to me that it paid off to be a jerk.

  5. It was too hard to get things done -This was a combination of things.  Part of it is just being at a big company with large interest to protect.  Part of it was people trying to do other people's job for the sake of increasing their scope.  Part of it was just being a very small fish in a huge Windows/Office Ocean.

  6. Slow Career Growth - Probably the biggest reason I left.  I thought about where I wanted to be and how long it would take me to get there.  Today's Microsoft is not the Microsoft of old.  Microsoft is top heavy with people with long tenure.   Microsoft's employee base was doubling every few years.  You could advance simply because of the rising tide.   That's not the case anymore.  It would have taken me twenty years to get where I wanted to be.  No way I could see myself working there for the next twenty years.

I could probably go on, but this outlines the biggest reasons.   Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of reasons Microsoft can be a great place to work. The resources are fantastic, the benefits outstanding, and the quality of people who work there is generally pretty high.

It wasn't an easy decision to come to, even though I knew it was the right decision.  Looking back, I absolutely made the right choice. I can say that even though I have issues with my current job.  The problems I was encountering were deal breakers.  I could have stuck around and just "floated" along.  It would have been easy not do much work and just get by.  But it just wasn't me.  Besides, the opportunity cost was too high.  Every day I stayed at Microsoft was a day I wasn't doing something else.  I just couldn't have that.

I want to say thanks to my friend Rick who provided me with a fantastic piece of software, Paint.NET.  It's what I used to crop the above picture.


  1. It's always good to have a big name like Microsoft on your resume though.

  2. If your boss has broken a big career promise to you, it's definitely a clear sign to move on. Either transfer to a different team or another company altogether. What's to guarantee that you'll move up if your boss doesn't collaborate and reward you for your hard work?

  3. [...] had a layoff and it really shows the depth of the economic problems that we are facing right now. I left Microsoft over a year ago for numerous reasons.  One of the reasons was because I thought Microsoft was sorely in need of a culture shock.  When [...]

  4. Did you think of getting an MBA then? It seemed like the right time.
    I had my MBA degree last year. Got to say it was the best decision I have made. I gained leadership qualities, I can make better business decisions, I am thinking more like a top manager, I know how to set a vision, evaluate goals, I know what's a value chain and what's a value added activity and why they are important to identify, I made the best relationships, and I get a long with others now.
    I was transformed after my MBA because I really wanted to make the most out of the two years and it is a good degree. Everyone reaches a point where their hard skills are not valuable anymore or they know they are not valuable to a company or can't get ahead and work starts getting boring and frustrating. At that time I decided to do my MBA. It was a humbling experience and I wouldn't measure the results in dollars.

  5. Adnan,

    Congrats on getting your MBA. I've actually written a post in the past about why I decided not to get my MBA.

    It didn't make any sense for me. Given my current job and my career trajectory, it was absolutely the right decision for me. Your mileage may vary so if it is working out for you, great.