Feature Story

Alex Rector

Program Manager at Microsoft

Q: What do you do for a living?

Alex: I have been working at Microsoft since graduating from college 19 years ago. When I went to college I initially thought I’d be a math major, but I took a Computer Science class my 2nd semester and LOVED it. It was a long time ago and Microsoft was pretty small, but I remember thinking “maybe I can work for that little company called Microsoft if I go into this field.” Today, I work for Microsoft as a Program Manager on the Office Live product.

Q: What do you do in your current position?

Alex: I am the Program Manager for one of Microsoft’s 18 Technical Fellows (the technical equivalent of a Vice President). He’s a “big idea guy”, and I am the Program Manager who puts organization around the ideas to bring them to execution. It’s a very exciting role.

Q: What do you love about your job?

Alex: I love my job working with smart people on challenging problems. It’s also been incredible to watch Microsoft grow from a company of less than 2000 people to the big company it is today.

Q: Have there been barriers to your career?

Alex: I feel very fortunate to work for such a great company. The only barrier to my career has been my lack of confidence at times. When I was first starting out after graduating from college, I wasn’t confident in my abilities, so I tended to play it safe vs. play all out. Luckily, I had a mentor who believed in me and worked with me to gain confidence. As I gained self-confidence, I was willing to take more risks, which meant bigger successes (as well as some failures.) I truly believe that the key to my success has simply been to believe in myself. As long as I have passion about the work I’m doing, and believe in myself, I am able to do whatever I set my mind to.

Q: Any advice for other women?

Alex: My advice to anyone in a similar situation is to find what you’re passionate about and work on that. And if you want to work at Microsoft, I suggest studying Computer Science in college. You should be passionate about creating the best software and/or services for the world.