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From Engineering to Empathy: A Leadership Journey with Merrie Williamson

Episode Summary

Meet Merrie Williamson, an accomplished leader with a diverse background. With 20 years of experience leading engineering teams at Intel and currently serving as the Corporate Vice President of Azure Infra at Microsoft, Merrie's career trajectory has been remarkable. In this episode, Merrie shares her personal journey of discovery and the pivotal moment that led her to embrace empathy and transition into her current leadership role as CVP of Azure Infrastructure and Digital & App Innovation at Microsoft.

Merrie’s journey also touches on her personal experiences, including her adoption and subsequent exploration of her identity during her time as a student at the University of Michigan. She emphasizes the role of support networks, such as employee resource groups (ERGs) and peer mentoring, in fostering personal and professional growth.

Join us on this episode as Merrie Williamson's inspiring story unfolds, offering valuable insights for leaders and professionals in the business world.

Episode Notes

Who is Merrie Williamson

Meet Merrie Williamson, an accomplished leader with a diverse background. With 20 years of experience leading engineering teams at Intel and currently serving as the Corporate Vice President of Azure Infra at Microsoft, Merrie's career trajectory has been remarkable. In this episode, Merrie shares her personal journey of discovery and the pivotal moment that led her to embrace empathy and transition into her current leadership role as CVP of Azure Infrastructure and Digital & App Innovation at Microsoft.

Gain insights into the following key areas:

  • Merrie's Leadership Style: Discover how Merrie's unique leadership style, rooted in empathy, has helped her navigate the challenges of leading diverse teams in the tech industry.
  • Career Transition Moment: Learn about Merrie's transformative shift from engineering to sales leadership and the valuable lessons she gained from engaging directly with customers and understanding the intersection of technology, sales, marketing, and business transformation.
  • Diversity in the Tech Industry: Explore the importance of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, as Merrie shares her experiences and insights on creating an inclusive work environment.
  • The Power of Mentoring, Coaching, and Executive Presence: Delve into the significance of mentoring, coaching, and developing executive presence, as Merrie highlights their impact on personal growth and leadership development.

Merrie’s journey from engineering to sales at Azure and Microsoft was a significant and eye-opening shift. She transitioned from working with complex technologies in the cloud supply chain to engaging directly with customers, understanding their technology needs, and guiding them through business transformation.

This transition became Merrie’s "empathy moment," where she gained a deeper understanding of the complexities of sales and developed empathy for engineering, sales, and marketing. As a leader, Merrie leverages a diverse "knowledge base" within her company, drawing expertise from various departments. She adopts a coaching approach to empower her managers and teams to make informed decisions.

Merrie emphasizes the importance of looking inward and approaching team members authentically. She values the support of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), such as women in tech and Black tech networks, as a sounding board for ideas, coaching, and peer mentoring. Through these communities, Merrie found her voice and was able to engage with senior managers and trusted individuals.

As a leader, Merrie recognizes the significance of role modeling and continuous learning. She prioritizes understanding when team members need breaks to rejuvenate and perform their best in challenging tasks.

Also, listen to our thought leadership spotlight featuring Travis Daniels, CEO of Dale Carnegie Washington, who reflects on the vital role of empathy in today's business environment. Learn how applying Dale Carnegie's principles and approaching situations with an open mind can elevate your leadership effectiveness.

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