New graduates and industry vets alike both know: When it comes to career insights, look for advice from someone who recently made the jump.
“Talent attracts talent,” says Jean Boufarhat, an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience who assumed a corporate vice president role on the Silicon Engineering team in April. “I’ve already found that Microsoft has a symbiotic environment between its product portfolio and the individuals pushing it forward, from Satya down, it creates a company that is an open book of opportunities.”
A track record worth considering
Boufarhat, who previously served as SVP at Synaptics and before that, in engineering at Altera and AMD, found his opportunity at Microsoft in an unexpected way.
“I finished my last job and was taking some time off to think about what I wanted to do next,” he recalls of early 2020. “That’s when I received an email from a Microsoft recruiter.”
Having collaborated with the company peripherally through the years, it was a conversation he was willing to have. “Anyone in high tech has interacted with Microsoft in their career, whether it’s using Microsoft tools like Office, a partnership, or a sales engagement. My kids even have a touchpoint playing videogames on Xbox,” he laughs. “In my career, I’ve had several opportunities where we interacted with Microsoft as a customer. You learn to appreciate the company, its reputation, and track record for being well-respected.”
At first, there was no specific position being discussed. But as he explored possibilities with the recruiter, Boufarhat’s interests steered him towards Silicon Engineering, a group that contributes to many of Microsoft’s business areas and is constantly growing. “They’re a brilliant group that continues to attract top talent, and then empowers them to build interesting things and grow in new ways. People work on very complex problems that require supercomputers. Others work on advanced quantum computing, interfacing with the HoloLens. There are so many opportunities and technologies people can work on here. It’s simply amazing.”
“I realized I could bring all of my experience, throughout my career, to Microsoft and it would be an opportunity to make a significant impact.” – Jean Boufarhat
Breadth and reach, for customers and employees
Silicon Engineering, a pillar for Microsoft Bay Area’s Silicon Valley Campus, is tasked with overseeing the company’s first-party and partner efforts in the region. It’s also a department that encourages you to keep your head in the clouds.
“Cloud computing with Azure is a major focus,” Boufarhat says of his team. “We’re advancing our in-house capabilities, working with partners, and doing custom development that serves our cloud products.”
“Our mission here is to become a world-class silicon design team that provides differentiating value and capabilities to Microsoft over the long run,” he continues. “We’re uniquely positioned to provide solutions and services to customers globally at both the individual and enterprise levels. The reach is broad too, from edge computing devices all the way to the cloud. That breadth and reach create value that is sustainable and materially beneficial to Microsoft and its customers.”
Virtual introductions, genuine enthusiasm
For those who might follow in his footsteps, this Silicon Valley vet reports that his recent career move has put him in an environment where he feels positioned for success. “It’s been two months, and I already consider myself lucky to be a part of this great team,” he says. “I like the leaders, they’re well-experienced, their hearts are in the right place, and they’re committed to the group. They’re not only knowledgeable about the products and the technology, but also aware of the community and their responsibility to employees, the company, and our larger society. It’s very inspiring.”
Keep in mind, all this comes at a less-than-ideal time, as Boufarhat was onboarded remotely in the middle of COVID-19 lockdown precautions. He has had to make most if not all introductions virtually.
“You’d think in this work-from-home situation, people would be down, or disengaged,” he marvels. “Instead, everyone is available and trying to make it seem like we’re in the office with happy hour, social times, and coffee breaks. There’s still a strong sense of one team, one community all trying to do the right thing for the company.”
More than just talk
Silicon Valley is an exciting, yet tight-knit community. Once you start your career there, it’s a region without limits. “If you want to work in semi-conductor related technologies or high tech, you have to have a presence in Silicon Valley. When you work in the Bay Area, your neighbor works for a competitor, your spouse works for a different company, and all your friends and colleagues from previous jobs live nearby,” says Boufarhat, who has lived in the area since 2002. “That dynamism builds networks and helps create a strong presence that is attractive to individuals and companies.”
The Silicon Engineering team puts you smack dab in the middle of this dynamic atmosphere, and as Boufarhat is quick to point out, provides you with all the tools you need to succeed. “Microsoft is a strong, diverse company ethnically, gender-wise, behavior-wise; you’re truly immersed in a melting pot,” he says of his new home.
If you are interested in a career in silicon and experiencing first-hand what Boufarhat has these past several months, opportunities to join them can be found here: https://aka.ms/MicrosoftBayAreaCareers