Safiya Miller’s mantra is “Live life boldly and colorfully.” This is what she tells herself every day, wherever it takes her.
As manager of one of Microsoft’s largest strategic accounts and partners, after two consecutive years of gold club nominations, and being recognized as a member of Microsoft’s Platinum Club Circle of Excellence, she consistently performs at the highest level and is a shining example of how empowering others to achieve more means success in what we do.
She has leveraged her career in tech to build relationships with clients and creative individuals across Silicon Valley. These connections, have ultimately enabled her to become not only a Microsoft executive, but also a fashion designer for her own label, Safiya Jihan.
Choosing the right team
Her journey started five years ago after graduating from Cornell’s MBA program. Miller was looking for her next career opportunity. To make an informed decision, she had three important qualifiers for where she would head next: a leader that could inspire, a mission that was motivating, and an opportunity that encouraged growth.
She found all of these at Microsoft. During the hiring process, her soon to be regional manager Katy Brown, vice president of enterprise sales of the western region, said something that resonated strongly with her. “She said, ‘You have to ask for what you want,’ and I really wanted the Account Executive position,” says Miller. “I’m grateful that, despite the fact I had no ‘software’ sales experience, I found a team that could see what I brought to the table and was willing to put me in a position that showed my strengths.”
This was the challenge Miller was looking for. She was given the space to learn, grow, and build her own personal brand of leadership within the company.
“Microsoft has always encouraged personal growth. There is an abundance of resources here, you just have to choose which are right for you, and which will help you on your personal career path.”
Miller joined Microsoft’s Aspire program and after that everything started to fall into place. “I was in an environment that was innovative and inspiring,” she says. “From the very first day, I was empowered to be a partner to leaders who now serve as my mentors, given the freedom to find creative ways to inspire virtual teams, and space to forge personal relationships with co-workers which ultimately helped us better support each other along our career journeys.”
Following a passion
Miller’s fashion brand was inspired by her professional life at Microsoft.
“Most ask how having your own fashion brand is even possible while working for a company like Microsoft,” Miller shares. “It’s about being proactive in pursuing what makes you feel alive, what recharges your creativity, and living a true ‘growth mindset’ which is something Satya constantly emphasizes.”
Everyone wants to feel empowered when they enter a room, but many struggle to find the time to assemble a wardrobe that truly brings their style and—more importantly—their brand to life, Miller observed. “And that’s when it hit me,” she says. “I could transform my passion around the intersection of fashion, media, and technology into a fashion line and virtual styling business that encourages others to live their lives boldly and colorfully.”
Out of this, the Safiya Jihan line was born. Working on an account like Adobe means Miller is constantly pushed to the edge of creativity. Her fashion line benefits from this and the artistic work environment at Adobe helps Miller refresh her imagination daily. Clothing designs, inspiring a team, and finding ways to keep scaling a small business means she welcomes energetic environments that keep her on her toes.
“I guess I have a relentless drive to learn, a humble heart to ask for help when needed, and confidence in knowing that the mistakes I’ll make along the way will only make me as an executive and designer stronger,” says Miller.
(Safiya Miller sharing her personal story and how to align passion with purpose)
Paying it forward
Microsoft has given Miller the freedom to explore an insatiable curiosity both personally and professionally.
“I’ve made so much of my own professional experience that I always try to serve as an advocate for others,” says Miller. “My mentor told me that a rising tide raises all ships and I always try to live that out.”
Miller has demonstrated this by helping others in a number of ways. She is an influential member of the local Blacks@Microsoft (B@M) Employee Resource Group. As a woman of color, she is always willing to mentor others and share more about how they can lean into Microsoft’s mission of empowerment. This played a big part in inspiring her to develop the Miller, Harper, Williams partnership, a startup devoted to helping companies retain and nurture diversity within their organizations, while also helping diverse early- and mid-stage tech professionals feel emotionally, socially, and professionally empowered in Silicon Valley.
With her brother, Miller also founded the Safiya & Daren Miller No Boundaries scholarship, which has already given out more than $10,000 for education. “Our scholarship honors young people that dare to dream big and pursue America’s best post-secondary opportunities,” she says.
Keeping it real
Every day Miller reads an inspirational quote right when she wakes up. It helps keep her balanced, resolved, and energized as she heads out to do in a day what some hope to accomplish in a week.
“By day, I work for one of the most transformative companies in the world, supporting one of its largest partners,” she says. “By night, I am an avid user of Adobe’s products on Azure, specifically utilizing the Creative Cloud suite in the design and marketing of my size-inclusive clothing line, manufactured and made ethically in the heart of San Francisco. I am exactly where I want to be.”
If you are interested in learning how to start your own career at Microsoft, and use it as a platform to pursue your passions, open roles in the Bay Area can be found here: https://aka.ms/MicrosoftBayAreaCareers