A Big Change: I’m Joining Microsoft

I don’t have a firm start date or travel plan yet (I have my final visa interview on Friday), but I have accepted a position with Microsoft Business Solutions in Fargo, North Dakota to be a Program Manager (PM) in the Microsoft Business Framework (MBF - my previous mention of it, announcement, presentation) team. I expect to fly out sometime between the 9th and 19th of October and start in Fargo between the 25th of October and the 1st of November.

I had mentioned MBF and described it (based on some correct and incorrect knowledge pulled from around the web) previously (May 11). Here is what I wrote:

“[MBF] is an exciting area of technology for Microsoft since it touches so many 'hot' areas: Microsoft's business application development (Green), service oriented architecture (Indigo), object relational persistence (ObjectSpaces), lightweight process support (in-process Biztalk process engine), and model driven architecture (Whitehorse) to name a few.”

And so now I'm going to be involved in building this framework and getting it into the hands of developers and customers around the world!.


How did you find out about this position?

I really love my current position at iP3, but about 8 months ago (March 2004) I sat down and had a think about other things that I would really enjoy working on. Sometime later I went onto the careers site and submitted my resume. I originally applied for a different position as a Software Development Engineering Lead, but I had mentioned in my initial communications with the Microsoft technical recruiter that a program manager position was something that interested me in the medium- to long-term and the guys in the MBF team decided I would be better suited to a PM position right now.

Do you get to write code?

I have heard that Program Manager’s write code as examples for SDE’s (developers) and to test out the products. In my case, MBF is a framework for developers so I probably will be writing a bunch of code.


Do you get to work with the community?

I hope so, but I’m unsure. Hopefully I'll be able to put my presentation skills to work and hopefully I be able to post information regularly on my site about my experiences and about the product as it nears release.

Do you get to influence product direction?

I'll have a lot to catch up on and they are all very smart people, but I sure hope I can put a little piece of me in there.


Why the MBF team? What products other than MBF will you be involved with?

Because they are working to raise the level of abstraction that developers work at like never before and MBF will have a huge impact on how businesses build business applications. The MBF team is also involved in a lot of the areas that I have found so interesting for so long including distributed systems, web services and service oriented architecture (Indigo), ERP’s (Green), model driven architecture (Whitehorse), business processes and workflow (BizTalk), and object relational mapping (WinFS/ObjectSpaces).

Why Fargo, North Dakota and not Redmond?

That is where the a large part of the team for MBF is based. The Great Plains company was based in Fargo when Microsoft purchased it and turned it into Microsoft Business Solutions. It seems like a great environment and a great little city. Maybe I’ll get an opportunity to work in Redmond at some time in the future.

Where is Fargo? How big is Fargo?

Here is a map of Fargo (zoom out for a better idea of the location). Here is the Microsoft description of the Fargo office location.

The “I’m going to work at Microsoft” chat usually goes something like this:

Other person: Wow! Congratulations.

Chris: Thanks

Other person: But where/what is Fargo?

Chris: Fargo has about 180,000 people. It is near the border with Canada in the middle. Did you see the movie ‘Fargo’?

Other person: Wow. That’ll be small/cold…

Yes, I know it is going to be a lot colder than anything I have experienced, but hopefully it won’t be too hard to get used to.

With regards to the size (120,000 metro, 180,000 greater Fargo area), Fargo is about the same size as Hamilton (the city I grew up in) so it’ll be like going home :). Minneapolis-St. Paul (3-4 million?) is about three hours drive away, just in case ;).

How long was the interview process?

By the time I get there it will have been about 6 months since I submitted my resume. That is probably pretty fast for an international hire.

How did you prepare for the interview process?

I read “How Would You Move Mount Fuji?”, The Technical Careers at Microsoft weblog by Zoe and Gretchen, Chris Sells’ Interviewing at Microsoft page, and a couple of weblog posts (1, 2, and 3).

Aren’t you the head of R&D for iP3? What is happening to iP3?

I handled a great number of things at iP3. Different people and groups of people are going to pick up many of the responsibilities I had. iP3 has a bright future, and I'm proud to be involved with it. I still have a small shareholding in iP3. I won’t be losing contact and Ahmed has talked to me about assisting with advice during the transition and in the future.


Are you sad to be leaving the Melbourne developer community?

Yes. But I’m not really leaving entirely since I’ll still be on the mailing lists and hopefully I'll be regularly in touch.

You are leaving behind your current job, girlfriend, developer community, soccer club, family, and friends. Are you sure this is going to be worth it?

It is a big change, and I hope it will be worth it. This change feels good and I’m really excited to be helping to ship a product that I think will have a huge effect on business applications development!


This is such a big change for me and such a big move that I feel compelled to say thanks to a bunch of people and include answers to a bunch of questions that I have had from people over the last couple of days (for some) and weeks (for others).

Thanks to all the great people at iP3 for creating such a wonderful work environment over the past three years as we grew and learnt together… Madhu, Hafeez, Phil, Nishi, Bronson, Kestrel, Sachin, Lance, Kevin, Sunny, Joe, Alastair, Pamela, Paul, Nathalie, Kat, Jasmine, Collette, Ron, Mario, Don, Ken, John, Andrew, Chris, Michael. A special thanks to my friend, coach and mentor Ahmed, for guiding me and teaching me over the past four years at iP3 and PwC.

Thanks to .Net (MDNUG and the Stanski list) and agile (VAMSIG and MXPEG) developer communities. The knowledge and experience I have gained and the support I received through the Australian and Melbourne software development communities over the past couple of years has been hugely beneficial. A special thanks to my friends Steve Hayes (MXPEG) and Bill Chesnut (MDNUG) for the opportunities you have given me. A special thanks also to the Microsoft developer and architect evangelists Jason McConnell, Charles Sterling (Chuck), Frank Arrigo, David Sajfar, David Glover, Nigel Watson, Nils, Bill K and many others.

Thanks to my friends (esp. Kamil, Steve, and Hamish) and family and the guys from my soccer club.

And finally, thanks to Kerri (who is staying in Melbourne) for all her love and support throughout the past 4 years and through the changes of the last six months.

And now…

I’ll be making a move sometime around mid-late October, but in the meantime if you have any questions then shoot them my way and I’ll do my best to answer them. I know some will be interested in more personal stuff and some in the technology and recruitment angles so I’ll probably just answer the technology and recruitment questions here and leave the personal material for offline and email.