Alumni on the Move - January 2016

Amber Waisanen Asian Discovery, Class of 2010

Amber Waisanen

Asian Discovery, Class of 2010

Amber recently joined Microsoft as a Senior Business Manager, Office RoB, with the Office Marketing Business Operations team.

Looking back over my career to date, I’ve always been in the marketing field, as I’ve enjoyed the creativity and innovation I’m able to bring to the table. I’ve worked in a variety of different industries and have been fortunate enough to continually be exposed to new cultures, experiences and leadership. A few years ago, I found myself working in the healthcare industry. I’ll openly admit this industry wasn’t my favorite, nor was it my passion, but it taught me a great deal about marketing in a heavily regulated industry and gave me a new found appreciation of the industry. As with any organization, there was a period of a tremendous amount of change, not only in leadership within marketing, but the organizational structure, team dynamics, and my role and responsibilities. At this same time, a former EDI colleague reached out to me (thanks, Julie Pham!) to share a consulting opportunity to do marketing...at Microsoft...and in Xbox. I thought to myself, this is the perfect combination: I love marketing, I’ve been wanting to work at a large organization and in the tech space, and I’m a gamer...an Xbox gamer at that. I figured what’s the worst that can happen, I apply, maybe they don’t think I’m the right fit, maybe I’m not what they’re looking for, but I knew I would face a bigger loss never knowing and not trying. Next thing I know, I’m invited in for an interview with the team, meet the hiring manager and then before I know it, I’m working at Microsoft. From there, I worked on two huge launches for the company, Xbox One and Windows 10. I had incredible opportunities to travel the world, participate in awesome industry events such as E3 and PAX, meet some smart and talented people across the company, and really make an impact with the work I was doing. You would think my career couldn’t get any better...but it could and I was anxiously awaiting to see what opportunity would present itself.

Fast forward to today, I started another consulting opportunity at Microsoft back in spring 2016, joining what I didn’t realize would be my full-time team down the road. However, this time, it wasn’t in marketing...it was business operations. Now business operations isn’t totally unfamiliar to me having gone to the UW Business School, however, I’d never been in a role or even on a team that was purely focused on business operations. Let’s be real, business operations isn’t sexy, it’s not fun and no one gets excited about implementing processes and operational infrastructure in to the organization. I was determined to make the most of it though, so I utilized it as a learning opportunity that pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to develop new skills. I learned that our team was the heartbeat of the organization, and we helped every team operate more efficiently and seamlessly as ever. As I continued working with the team, I realized I was in a unique position of learning how business gets done in a large organization such as Microsoft and what could be more valuable to someone who’s looking to become CEO of an organization one day. In addition, I was a part of an amazing team with great leadership in place and knowing that at the end of the day, my work was making a difference. Several months in to my new role, I was approached on considering full-time opportunities within Microsoft and happened to find an opportunity available on our team. I knew this was the opportunity I was waiting for, so I applied for the role, interviewed with the team, played the fun waiting game and well, the rest is history.

Reflecting back over my decision, although it was ultimately me who had to take the first step in showing interest and applying, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a wealth of mentors in my life that have helped me progress to where I am now. Every new journey I’ve embarked up in life, has been because of the tremendous support I have around me. The support comes from people who believe in my abilities to do great things and encourage me to take on challenging roles. These are people I am thankful to call my mentors, squad, A team, friends, and family, and best of all, part of my EDI family!

Here’s my advice to you, the person who is reading this, who may be looking for some words of encouragement, a sliver of hope, a little motivation to get you out of your comfort zone, and just knowing someone supports you.

  • First off, remember you’re never alone. There is always someone in your corner, rooting for you, cheering you on and supporting you every step of the way (hint: your EDI family). The decisions and actions you take, reflect on yourself and impact those around you.
  • Second, never settle. If you find yourself feeling comfortable and stagnant, do something, anything. Challenge yourself to be better than the person you were yesterday. Know that you as a single individual can help contribute to making an impact and influencing change. Keep in mind that change doesn’t always have to be big, sometimes it’s the little things that help you on the right path to lead to bigger opportunities.
  • Third (and the most important), live life intentionally because our time on Earth is shorter than we think. Your only regret in life will be wishing you had done something or thinking you had more time, because the reality is you don’t always get a second chance and time doesn’t last forever. Take advantage of the opportunities that come before you and don’t be afraid to embark in to the unknown, sometimes the most exciting part is discovering something we never knew existed or creating a solution that we didn’t think was possible.

Most importantly, have fun and take risks. Every day will bring a new challenge and a new opportunity to continuously improve and innovate yourself, your team and your organization.