Kieran Robinson, our Product Marketing Manager intern, talks about his amazing experience at Future Decoded 2017. 

My experience of Future Decoded was amazing. Not only did I have a major role on the Modern Workplace stand but I also got the chance of meeting one of my heroes Panos Panay who is the leader for Microsoft Hardware, often referred to as the father of Surface.

In Future Decoded, I was working with my team on the Modern Workplace immersion zone. My role was on the device demo bar, showing customers the power of surface devices. I was also in charge of hot leads. A hot lead was anyone who was the decision maker of a business, was interested in the modern workplace concept and had budget to do so. It was my job to interview them further to make sure they qualify as a hot lead and to help sell the modern workplace motion. Not only was this a great oppounity to be customer facing with some of the most powerful people in business, but it was also a great privilege to oversee qualifying hot leads. Each hot lead is given a reference number to who they are, what they are looking to purchase and how much budget they have. This information is given straight to the sales force at Microsoft so they can follow this up to generate sales. Me and the apprentice in my team were directly involved in qualifying 7 hot leads with a potential of just under £1 million. From just 7 leads that’s incredible! It’s activities like this that go to show being in early career at Microsoft doesn’t change the type of responsibility you are given.

I also managed to feature on the Microsoft UK Instagram account and on the official Future decoded website (linked here) with the picture below.

I learnt so much from being on the stand, but I think the highlight had to be getting a 10-minute conversation with Panos Panay. It was 11:30 on 31st October, I was on the top floor of a bar next to the O2 where they were having the Surface after party for anyone on the Surface teams involved with Future Decoded. Present at this event were my team in the Windows and Device team as well as the American version of my team alongside the design and engineer team who create the Surface devices. One of the Surface engineers (Pete) I was talking to, started a conversation about Panos. The exact details of the conversation are vague, but I remember saying how much of a fan I was for his work. Pete asked if I had met Panos yet to which I answered “No, I haven’t had the chance, he is a very busy man and I don’t want to disturb him while he is talking to big groups”. Next thing I know, Pete taps Panos on the shoulder while he is talking to a big group and brings him over to me. “Panos pal, this is Kieran. He really wants to meet you”. I was like meeting a celebrity. Panos asked what my role was within the team and I explained I was an Intern. After chatting about how much I loved his work, I asked him two questions. “What tips would you give to someone who is early in career at Microsoft and wants to be here for a future role” and the second was “What tips would you give that would help me become a better presenter? I want to keep the same energy levels in the room while becoming a clearer and educated speaker”.  His response to the questions were as followed.

“What tips would you give to someone who is early in career at Microsoft and wants to be here for a future role?”

“There is only one tip I could give to someone who is in early career, just be yourself. Here in Microsoft, it’s a good trait to have. If you pretend to be something you’re not then two things will arise from that, managers will pick that up and you won’t produce the best work you can. If you are genuine, then it’s a trait that managers will see. if you really want to make a career here, then someone will notice you and pick you up for their team.”

“What tips would you give that would help me become a better presenter? I want to keep the same energy levels in the room while becoming a clearer and educated speaker”

There are two key things to getting better at presentations, first of these is Time and the second is Practice. Time has two halves, firstly it’s going to take time to get to the level of speaking and presenting that I do, this isn’t something that will happen overnight so don’t get frustrated if you don’t see immediate improvement. Secondly, when you are presenting, don’t rush to get everything in. The faster you talk, the more the audience must work to take in the information. If you take your time to talk, then the audience should be on the end of every word you are saying. This will only work if what you are saying is concise and relevant to the topic. Also, remember time is on your side not against you. By talking slow, it allows you time to remember what you need to say without using filler words while you talk, It also allows you to only talk about the key points.

The second point is practice. While it is a good skill to be able to present without preparation, it’s also key to practice the key points you want to make. By practicing the key 5 points, it allows you to do a presentation or speech regardless of how much time you have. One speech might only require points 1 and 3 while another might require all 5. Being able to apply these key points of sections makes it much easier to present or make a speech because you already have the script built in your head.”

Panos unfortunately, had to take a phone call so that’s all the time I had with him, however this was an amazing opportunity and I’d tell anyone to take on his advice, I know I will!


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