Connect with us

Business

With honor, in gratitude: Recognizing the impact of the military community at Microsoft and beyond

Douglas Phillips Each May we observe National Military Appreciation Month in the United States, and for Microsoft this is a time to connect with, learn from and celebrate our military community all around the globe. On May 31, we observe Memorial Day in the United States, honoring the memories of those who fell in service…

Published

on

Douglas Phillips

Each May we observe National Military Appreciation Month in the United States, and for Microsoft this is a time to connect with, learn from and celebrate our military community all around the globe. On May 31, we observe Memorial Day in the United States, honoring the memories of those who fell in service of the nation. On a human level, I’m always interested to learn about the history and founding of holidays along with traditions in practice, both past and present. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, referring to the decoration of graves with flowers, and became a federal holiday in 1971. My own Memorial Day ritual centers on supporting charities that organize wreath laying at military cemeteries, quiet reflection and conversations with friends and family about those who came before us. For the living, Memorial Day is a time to exercise our gratitude and appreciation.

Speaking of how we honor selfless service, I started at Microsoft almost six years ago and was pleasantly surprised soon after when an invitation came through to an on-campus observance of Veterans Day, which in the United States is when we celebrate living veterans. On the same day, Nov. 11, the Commonwealth observes Remembrance Day to honor members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty. The origin of both traditions is Armistice Day when World War I hostilities ended on Nov. 11, 1918, and of course remembrance is something that predates that conflict in cultures worldwide. At that first event I attended at Microsoft, I met retired Maj. Gen. Chris Cortez, Vice President of Military Affairs at Microsoft, and learned about our vibrant veterans community. This drew me toward additional opportunities to get to know as many veterans as possible and gave me the chance to understand the amazing career opportunities at the company and the opportunities for us to invest further.

This year, I’m particularly grateful for and proud of Microsoft’s commitment to those who have served. It is my distinct privilege to now serve as one of the executive sponsors of the global Military at Microsoft employee resource group (ERG), which connects me with a truly exceptional group of service-minded people.

This Military Appreciation Month, our theme within the Microsoft community is “With Honor, In Gratitude,” and I’m cognizant of that sense of gratitude when I think about what this community means to and at Microsoft. I have been fortunate to work closely with many veterans at the company. I have found that beyond their expected business skills, they so often possess an entrepreneurial spirit with the soft skills of coalition building, a can-do mindset, and a focus on team and mission that not only is valuable across all industries but is particularly well-aligned with Microsoft’s core values.

Veterans make Microsoft better, and the Military at Microsoft ERG does much to help us attract and retain veterans by creating the best possible employee experience. Our active ERG holds weekly coffee chats (virtual since COVID-19) where veterans network and share service stories and jokes about what happens when a Marine, a Navy captain, an Army officer, and a pilot walk into a bar. In addition to the coffee chats, the ERG organizes a speaker series on a wide range of topics and facilitates the Military Mentorship Program, which pairs new veteran hires with a different member of the community each month for career conversations.

The ERG also brings people together to observe and honor. We commemorated last year’s Remembrance Day, commonly referred to as Poppy Day, and Veterans Day with a virtual 5k and a 22-push-up challenge that called attention to the heartbreaking statistic that on average, 22 veterans die by suicide each day. Veterans in the U.K. commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with an 80-mile relay. Events like these sustain our sense of community and have an ancillary benefit of creating a learning opportunity open to all employees.

One of the best aspects of the observation of cultural and heritage months at Microsoft is the space they create for communities to connect and share. I’ve had some great conversations about what Military Appreciation Month and our employee community mean to members. I had the opportunity to connect with the co-chairs of our ERG on this topic and was moved by their experiences and perspectives.

Michael Warren with his daughter.

Michael Warren, strategic account executive, Enterprise Commercial, joined the Army after his second year of college when he recognized that student loan debt was going to become a lifetime burden for him. Though he initially planned to stay in long enough to get the benefits and then get out, he fell in love with military life, he told me, and couldn’t quit.

“Every time re-enlistment papers came by, I swore the oath and did more. A chance encounter with a technology industry executive right after Desert Storm brought me out of active service and into the reserves. For me, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. I maintained two careers for almost 20 years after joining corporate America, one as a civilian negotiating multi-billion-dollar deals and the other as a military policeman in the Army.”

After multiple deployments, activations and special duty assignments over 25 years of service, Michael retired from the military to focus on family and his role at Microsoft. Military at Microsoft has given him the chance to re-engage with the military community, continue his passion for cultivating leadership and empowered him to help other prior and current service members adapt to corporate life.

I asked him what he wants people to learn or know about the community.

“The military community at Microsoft is not what many think it is. It is comprised of individuals who have served, individuals who are currently serving (i.e., National Guard and reserves), military spouses, and supporters of the military,” he said. “The common bond between all is a passion for service to others and a commitment to be the most inclusive community possible.”

Gina Kirby with her husband, Pete, and their daughters.

Gina Kirby, senior Azure specialist, Microsoft Azure Retail, is one of those spouse and supporter members. She is married to a veteran and both her and her husband’s families have a history of service. She shared with me that Military Appreciation Month is an opportunity to acknowledge the commitments our military, their spouses, and families make in service to their country, whether they are veterans or still active in the guard or reserves. “It’s a chance to thank them for their sacrifices and, as we’ve seen this past year with the pandemic, the sacrifices they continue to make by providing frontline COVID-19 support,” she said.

“I also see the community reflect and recommit to paying it forward. I talk with colleagues about what the ERG can do to support,” she said. “But what really stands out is the passion to give back. They ask, ‘How can I get involved? What can I do?’ and, ‘How do I help others get here when they retire?’ I am inspired by this selfless drive to continue the mission and serve one another.”

The ERG also brings its spirit of service to philanthropic opportunities. Last year ERG members made a huge impact in the Microsoft annual October Giving Campaign — a company tradition since 1983 — toward veterans charities and other important causes. I know our Military at Microsoft ERG will rise to the occasion again this fall to bring our community together in fun and creative ways to volunteer and fundraise on behalf of military and veteran communities.

The ERG also plays a key role in helping us hire veterans. Pursuing this diverse talent pool for a variety of disciplines and locations benefits the company by bringing in skilled, experienced individuals to innovate at Microsoft and helps veterans transition and develop their skills. Some examples of our initiatives and opportunities:

Cleared Hiring: Microsoft is looking for people with an active security clearance to join our global mission and help shape the future of the world. Cleared talent jobs | Microsoft Careers

Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA): A 17-week training program for veterans and current service members for high-demand careers in cloud development or cloud administration. Program graduates have an opportunity to interview for a full-time job at Microsoft or one of our more than 750 hiring partners. MSSA is now fully funded by Microsoft. Microsoft Software and Systems Academy – Microsoft Military Affairs

LaunchCode: In an effort to further create opportunity for veterans who are passionate about technology to find success at Microsoft, and after an overwhelmingly successful pilot in 2020, Microsoft is once again partnering with LaunchCode, a Missouri-based nonprofit specializing in delivering tech education for people with non-traditional backgrounds, to bring dozens of highly cleared, transitioning military through a 16-week, Azure-curated curriculum which will prepare them for successful entry into Microsoft and to make immediate impact on some of our most critical cloud and customer challenges.

I’m proud to celebrate this Military Appreciation Month — with honor, in gratitude — and to recognize the Military at Microsoft ERG and its enormous work supporting and strengthening our veteran community.

Douglas Phillips is Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Azure Edge + Platform (E+P), responsible for leading a globally distributed team of engineers who build Microsoft’s operating systems, engineering systems, and edge products that span cloud-to-edge and edge-to-cloud.

Tags: military

Source

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Business

Facebook: Recognizing Global Accessibility Awareness Day

As an avid outdoor enthusiast and firefighter, Carly P. has always loved being active. After a life-changing injury paralyzed her from the waist down, she felt lost. Carly recaptured her passion for being outside and found a community of people like her through the nonprofit organization Catalyst Sports. Now, she uses Catalyst Sports’ Facebook page…

Published

on

By

As an avid outdoor enthusiast and firefighter, Carly P. has always loved being active. After a life-changing injury paralyzed her from the waist down, she felt lost. Carly recaptured her passion for being outside and found a community of people like her through the nonprofit organization Catalyst Sports. Now, she uses Catalyst Sports’ Facebook page to spread awareness and share local recreational opportunities for people with physical disabilities.

In addition to providing community to people with disabilities, we’re also working to make the digital world more accessible. 

We will demonstrate our latest accessibility features today at our annual Accessibility Summit. Join us at 10:00AM PT for this livestream on the Meta Accessibility Facebook Page. In addition to product demos and updates, we will host an interview with Molly Burke, a digital creator and blind advocate.

Through a video series on the Meta Accessibility Facebook Page, we’re highlighting how people with disabilities connect and build communities through our technologies, much like Carly. We’ve created both the captioned and audio described versions of these stories.

Today, we’re recapping advances we’ve made over the past year to make our technologies more inclusive. 

Meta Quest

  • Audio Accessibility
    • Audio balance: This option enables you to adjust the balance of the left and right audio channels for comfort, and to better match your ability to hear in each ear. 
    • Mono Audio enables you to hear the same audio from both the left and right speakers on your headset. 
    • You’ll find both features under the Accessibility tab in your headset’s Settings menu.

Product mock of audio accessibility on Meta Quest

  • Adjust Height  
    • This feature allows you to experience VR from a “standing” vantage point even while reclining or seated. This can improve the VR experience for people who use wheelchairs, have limited mobility or are unable to use the Quest headset while standing. 
    • We first introduced this as an experimental feature (called Raise View) last June and have now made it permanent after receiving positive feedback from the disability community. 
    • You can find this feature in the Accessibility tab in Quest’s Settings menu.

Portal

  • Video relay service (VRS)
    • In December, we began supporting video relay service (VRS) applications on Portal  for people who use American Sign Language (ASL), through a collaboration with ZP Better Together.
    • Through the ZP apps on Portal and human interpreters, people who use American Sign Language can now easily communicate in both English and Spanish. 
    • Portal’s unique AI-powered camera always keeps you in frame and in focus, even when you’re moving, so your face and hands can always be seen.
  • Captions
    • We’ve also added customizable closed captions for streamed content on TV and Touch, as well as added support for live captions into integrated work productivity apps Zoom and Workplace Live.

Instagram

  • Auto-generated captions for Feed videos
    • In March, we introduced auto-generated captions for Feed videos on iOS and Android in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, German, Turkish, Russian, Thai, Tagalog, Urdu, Malay, Hindi and Japanese to start. 
    • More importantly, captions are automatically turned on by default when a creator uploads a video to their Feed. Over 140 million videos were created with auto-generated captions in the last 30 days.
    • Creators retain the ability to turn captions off when they choose and viewers can turn captions on or off using on-screen controls.

Product mock of Instagram auto-generated captions

Stickers on Facebook and Messenger

  • We added alt text descriptions to the more than 10,000 stickers available on Facebook and Messenger, making it possible for people who are blind and visually impaired to understand and use them. 

Avatars

  • Earlier this year, we introduced the ability to have your same avatar across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Quest. 
  • There are also new avatar options, including over-the-ear hearing aids and cochlear implants in addition to more face shapes, skin tones, expressions, and stickers. 
  • Wheelchairs are now available as stickers on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger so your avatar can better represent who you are or who you want to be.

Product mock of accessibility features of Avatars

Open Source

  • Lexical is a JavaScript framework built to improve text editing on Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Workplace, with accessibility as a priority. 
  • In April, Lexical was released into open source to allow the rest of the world to benefit from these improvements. 
  • With this new framework, people can express their ideas in text via dictation, and readers can experience character-by-character navigation — a feature previously unavailable in similar editors.

Reality Labs Research

  • We’re exploring how improvements in audio quality can enable more realistic presence and perceptual superpowers in augmented and virtual reality— technological advancements that can also help us hear better in noisy environments. 
  • Our team of hearing scientists is also exploring how to reencode sound and present it through closed captioning.
  • While this is still early research, we are excited to learn more about how emerging audio technologies can improve the lives of people with hearing loss. 

Image showing audio research

Source

Continue Reading

Business

Facebook: Announcing New Products to Make Business Messaging Easier

The way people and businesses communicate is changing. One billion people message with a business each week on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct — whether it’s DMing brands, browsing product catalogs, asking for support, or interacting with stories. This consumer behavior is accelerating and it’s changing how business gets done. Today at Conversations, our inaugural…

Published

on

By

The way people and businesses communicate is changing. One billion people message with a business each week on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct — whether it’s DMing brands, browsing product catalogs, asking for support, or interacting with stories. This consumer behavior is accelerating and it’s changing how business gets done. Today at Conversations, our inaugural business messaging event, we discussed how messaging is transforming interactions between people and businesses, and announced new products to make conversations easier.

Introducing Cloud-based API on the WhatsApp Business Platform

Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced we’re opening up the new, cloud-based version of the WhatsApp Business Platform, hosted by Meta, to any business across the world. With this new API, we’re offering free, secure cloud hosting services so businesses and developers can easily access our service within minutes, build directly on top of WhatsApp to customize their experience and increase their response time for their customers. So now, whether a business wants to work with one of our 100+ partners or access our service directly, it will be much faster to get up and running on WhatsApp.

When growing a business, you need smart, robust and easy-to-use conversation tools. For smaller businesses using the WhatsApp Business app, we’re building tools so it’s easier to handle an influx of chats as they grow their customer base. 

Launching Recurring Notifications on Messenger

Today we’re announcing a new way for businesses to keep the conversation going with Recurring Notifications. As businesses acquire new customers and begin to scale operations, there’s incredible opportunity to build loyalty and trust — and we believe this is where the value of messaging really shines. This new capability makes it easy to re-engage people right in the messaging thread and deliver tailored messaging at the best time for customers, whether to hear about special promotions, new product drops or tips and tricks.

You can choose the topics you’d like to let people opt-in to, how often customers can hear from you and shape your content, so your messages are always on-brand and relevant. Recurring notifications will also be available for businesses on Instagram this fall.

We also highlighted our click-to-message ads to help customers immediately start conversations with businesses, our CRM platform Kustomer and Meta Business Suite for higher volumes of messages across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Read more about our product investments in business messaging on our Meta for Developers blog.

Source

Continue Reading

Business

Facebook: Introducing New Members of the Oversight Board

Today, Meta welcomes the newest members of the Oversight Board who have just been appointed — Paolo Carozza, Khaled Mansour, and Pamela San Martin. Per the Oversight Board Bylaws, we worked together with the board to identify and select these members over the last few months. Over the next few months we will continue to…

Published

on

By

Today, Meta welcomes the newest members of the Oversight Board who have just been appointed — Paolo Carozza, Khaled Mansour, and Pamela San Martin.

Per the Oversight Board Bylaws, we worked together with the board to identify and select these members over the last few months. Over the next few months we will continue to support and work with the board to select additional members. The new members reflect a wide range of views and experiences, and will bring a variety of perspectives to the board’s existing expertise.

The Oversight Board represents a unique model for social media governance. From its inception, we knew its impact would come not just from its decisions on individual cases, but also from broader recommendations on how we can improve our policies and processes. In the time since they began hearing cases and issuing decisions and recommendations, they’ve been playing a bigger role in setting precedent and direction for our content policies and how we enforce them.  We look forward to welcoming the new board members into this process.

We will update this Newsroom Post as additional members are appointed. We are grateful to all board members for lending their expertise to our content moderation efforts.

Source

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Today's Digital.