“Social is a mindset, not technology. Only do it if comes naturally, or you could look like a dad on the dancefloor” – so says Philippa Snare, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Microsoft UK.

Like MindsToday I had the pleasure of being invited to attend a Like Minds event to hear her speak. Like Minds @wearelikeminds is described as “an intellectual playground where thinkers, strategists, agents provocateurs, innovators, challengers and mavericks can open up, share ideas and be inspired in a warm, welcoming and world-wide environment. If you haven’t been, go. You’ll see the future there; most likely, yours.

It holds monthly Salon Talks aimed at women in business (men are welcome too) in partnership with Swarovski Crystallized – which is a stunning, and very sparkly, venue opposite Liberty, London. It was introduced by my fellow Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Social Media Panel member Gabrielle Laine-Peters @GabrielleNYC.

I was made to feel very welcome and enjoyed hearing Philippa @Filleepa discuss digital innovation in business. As CMO her remit covers consumer and commercial marketing communication, internal communication, digital platform, data analytics, customer relationship management and agency management in the marketing and operations division at Microsoft UK.

She took us on a journey through her life and career to date, from school – “I was always criticized for daydreaming and spending time being creative – this is now an essential part of what I do,” University – “I’ve since discovered that disdain for authority can lead to great success” “I only got a 2:2 for my dissertation in 1992 predicting how the Internet would fundamentally change the world” start-ups “being in an incubating environment can be healthy” and then moving to Microsoft just before 2000: “MSN Messenger was a part-time project of a small group of Microsoft employees, including me.

There was a discussion and questions around culture and Philippa explained how Microsoft “aligns internal behaviour with external messaging and communication with values rather than products. It’s about being in a continual conversation with people – internally and externally.”

Her thoughts that struck me included:

  • Microsoft will never be “cool” but is full of nice people, some real geeks, and everyone is smart – some have have 70 patents individually of things they’ve thought of
  • Know what you’re good at and then be the best at it. Know where your strengths and weakness lay and make decisions about your work based on them
  • When building a team, ensuring you know your strengths and weaknesses means you’re able to effectively fill the gaps
  • Office 365 is “the biggest cultural shift” – moving from software in a box to a service you subscribe to
  • Microsoft.co.uk has equal traffic to the BBC website
  • There’s a fine line between marketing and sales. It is really one and the same thing. Advertising roles mean you know you’re successful as you have a number. Marketing is more of an art that science
  • I try and follow patterns of success where I know I can add value

PhilippaQuestions were asked about graduates and young people and the opportunities they have. Philippa outlined the graduate and intern programme they operate and also their DigiGirlz initiative in Reading, UK, to encourage girls to consider technology as a career.

I liked the fact there is a deliberate decision not to give ‘tea and photocopying’ to graduates, and the Office 365 strategy was apparently worked on by grads.

Thank you to Like Minds for hosting the event, it was good to meet so many friendly people and hear their stories. It was made even sweeter as we were supplied with refreshments by Lola’s cupcakes. The glittery icing was in perfect keeping with the surroundings and they were decadent and delicious.

I’ve just signed up for information to discover when the next talks are and will share as I find it. You can find out more about Like Minds via their YouTube channel, blog or Facebook page.

To read more about Microsoft, I recommended this Melcrum article on IC, this blog on how its becoming a connected enterprise through Yammer and SharePoint and also How Microsoft Use Yammer article.

Have you been to something recently you think other readers of my blog would be interested to read about? If so, check out my guest guidelines and do please get in touch, Rachel.

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