Cindy Bates: Microsoft VP of U.S. Small & Medium Business & Distribution
Meet one of Little PINK Book’s Top Women in Technology 2012
By Caroline Cox
At Microsoft, Cindy Bates and her team make sure small and medium-sized businesses can effectively use the company's software, products and more to start and grow successfully. She's currently responsible for business development as well as various sales and marketing efforts for the multinational computing corporation.
Education: Harvard Business School, University of Michigan
Other work experience: Merrill Lynch, Strategic Planning Associates
LPB: Where did you get your passion for technology?
CB: My Dad was an engineer so I’ve always had a love of math and science. I have always been intrigued by the constant change technology brings, and how it provides solutions that have completely transformed the ways in which we do business. I come from a family of small business owners and so being able to fuse those two areas of interest – entrepreneurship and technology – is very inspiring.
LPB: What was the biggest career obstacle you faced?
CB: The challenge of moving from a career leading mergers and acquisitions and IPOs, to one driving a P&L and leading teams across marketing, business development, channel and technical sales. I also think of times in my career where my role and my organization have shifted, budgets have been in flux and I had to keep myself and my team absolutely focused on the higher vision, the end game and not get distracted with the normal vicissitudes of the corporate world.
LPB: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
CB: I completed the New York City Marathon with my mother, an experience that I count among the personal highlights of my life. As we came upon the last ½ mile of the race, my headphones happened to be playing “I’m Still Standing.” I loved that coincidence. Since some people do know that story, I’ll add that I’m a pretty good ping-pong, squash and tennis player, and was a “child actress” with starring roles on Romper Room and the Uncle Al Show.
LPB: How can more women be successful in the technology field?
CB: I would encourage other women to understand what drives you, your strengths and your areas of development. Consider how you want to be viewed in your organization, and use all of this information to create your own personal brand. Be willing to solicit and act on feedback. Realize the power and significance of humor to enable people to connect, relax and open creativity. Be willing to take risks and don’t be afraid of failure, because through failure we learn and get closer to long term success.
LPB: What's your success secret?
CB: My recognition that change and risk are something to be embraced, and my passionate curiosity about the world and people. I tie this willingness to take calculated risks to the confidence instilled in me as a girl by my parents that temporary setbacks or unpleasant experience were just "content for a chapter in the book of my life." Married with that, is my deep curiosity and love of learning.