Launching Satya Nadella’s ‘Hit Refresh’

Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella (get to know him before your interview!), just launched his new book, ‘Hit Refresh’, and I had the chance to work on a launch event that he and his team attended. Before starting my role, I had no idea that I would receive such amazing opportunities so early in my career, but working at Microsoft continues to surprise me daily.

As told in ‘Hit Refresh’, Satya is a huge fan of cricket; various cricketing metaphors feature throughout the book, illustrating business stories and thoughts on leadership. In line with this, the event was held at Lord’s Cricket Ground, where Satya discussed his book on-stage with Matthew Syed, an award-winning author. Their conversation was really insightful, and Satya was great at speaking from a number of perspectives: as a business leader, a user of technology and a family man.

A key part of making company events a success is to drive positive media coverage. We want to spread good stories coming out of Microsoft, increasing awareness and building brand image. To achieve this, my role was to manage journalists’ attendance by creating invites and follow-up communications, tracking responses and responding to questions in the run-up to the event. We had broad attendance by media and so the Q&A was engaging, featuring topics from quantum computing to England’s chances in the Ashes. Frank Shaw, Global Comms Director, jokingly wielded a cricket bat on-stage whilst he called on journalists: the role this played in drawing out such good questions will forever remain a mystery.

 

I also helped pull together a briefing document for Satya prior to his BBC interviews that morning, which gave him an overview of the biggest news issues here in the UK. Luckily I enjoy reading the news anyway, so this was a great excuse to sit down and do that for a day!

Towards the end of the event, I met Greg Shaw – the co-writer of Satya’s book. Whilst we chatted, he mentioned a particular Lord’s cap, navy blue with the Lord’s logo in the center, that Satya had seen during the day and wanted to take home. He told me his team had looked everywhere but had failed to find one. With that, I decided to take on the biggest responsibility I’d hold all year: to hunt down a hat for the CEO of Microsoft. We walked over to the Lord’s Store, and after looking for a minute we spotted it. Greg told me that he didn’t have any British currency with him, and asked if I would buy it – needless to say, I’m going to frame the receipt. Whilst the price was more than worth the story value, Satya personally ensured I was reimbursed.

The whole experience taught me just how much preparation is needed for such an important event. An unimaginable level of detail has to be pinned down with a minute-by-minute breakdown; dozens of people from various teams came together and gave it their all to make it happen. Reaching the end of the day and reflecting on how it all came together was such a great feeling. It’ll be a big highlight of my year at Microsoft, for sure.

Chester Broad

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