On Monday, June 14th, we hosted our 14th Town Hall with Laurent Pierre, General Manager of Customer Experience, Engineering Support (CXP) for Microsoft Azure. Laurent shared his background, the positions that his department is hiring for, the opportunities for candidates that have nontraditional (non-tech) backgrounds, and advice for how to grow your career in tech.
After graduating from Howard University, Laurent worked on Capitol Hill and then the World Bank before taking a job in enterprise software management (such as ERP), where he spent 14 years at IBM. In 2019, he was recruited to join Microsoft, where he now leads engineering support for Azure customers within the U.S. government, including for hospitals, first responders, and law enforcement agencies.
“All throughout my career I have had to level up and skill up as each new job required me to learn a lot of new things,” he said and advised participants to try to become a subject matter expert in at least one tech area. “That will open doors for your future career.”
Laurent’s team in the U.S. is about to double in size, and he described the open positions in his department, ranging from the entry-level (Azure Customer Engineer) to managerial (Lead to Principle). He also cited the skills required for each role and that candidates don’t necessarily need to have a bachelor’s or Computer Science degree.
“I met someone who used to be a bartender in Atlanta for over a decade who is now coding at Azure,” Laurent said, explaining that Microsoft hosts tech recruiting events across the country for people with experience in nontraditional backgrounds. “We have many stories like that. You just need experience and to have shown the ability to pick up technology and new skills.”
He also suggested checking out Microsoft’s career page at https://careers.microsoft.com/us/en and search for internships and apprenticeship programs. (But apply early and understand when internships start and end as it varies depending on needs.) Microsoft has been deliberate about increasing its diverse workforce. “We have to represent the people that we serve,” Laurent said.
When asked for additional advice about building a career in technology, Laurent said that non-technical skills are also essential. “Know how to interact with different personalities and have a set of core values you bring with you. Know what you bring to the table, but also leave room to hear other perspectives as well.”
Microsoft is the fifth technology company where Laurent has worked and he said he’s never seen a company that is as engaged with its diverse employee groups and as committed to diversity. “The fact that we’re given the opportunity to drive diversity across everything that we do is a huge opportunity. “