“I’m still in a learning mode,” David Ku told our team at the Microsoft New England R&D (NERD) Center. Ku, CVP for AI Core and CTO for Microsoft AI and Research, is the new sponsor for Microsoft’s Global Development Centers (GDCs), including NERD, Vancouver, Silicon Valley, China, India, and Israel. We were excited to welcome him to NERD on Tuesday, August 14 to introduce him to our team in this new role.
In a conversation led by Terrell Cox, NERD’s General Manager and GPM for Intune, Ku explored his own personal journey with Microsoft and the importance of owning a growth mindset—as he explained, the only way you can grow is by admitting you have plenty to still learn.
Ku joined Microsoft in 2010, where he was responsible for the advertising marketplaces and platforms across search and display. He played a key role in driving Bing to profitability and building strong momentum in Microsoft’s advertising business. In 2015, he expanded his role to include Bing platform and core relevance, deep partnership with Office to bring AI/ML technology to power intelligent productivity scenarios. He holds patents in search, personalization, and advertising, has authored a book, and published in numerous journals and conference proceedings in electronic design automation. He received his doctorate and masters from Stanford University in Electrical Engineering.
As Ku explained, in his early career with Microsoft, the then-CTO asked him: “David, what’s your brand?” He became aware that he didn’t know how people saw him.
“There’s a gap between self-perception and external perception,” he told the rapt crowd. And while he saw himself as successful, he wasn’t translating that into his professional relationships. This is where his growth mindset sparked, he said: “When you have nothing to lose except go up, you have no choice but to get better.”
Now, Ku is excited to apply this growth mindset as he takes on the culture shift initiated by Satya Nadella in 2014. As part of this commitment, he’ll be leading the charge at our GDCs to raise best practices across the globe to scale learning at Microsoft.
“As a culture, we’re still evolving from this Redmond-centric view,” he said. “We need to change the way that the company starts to think about global development. How do we be strategic? How do we start thinking about planning?”
The key, he says, is to focus on the people. At the bottom line, people are the core of technology management.
“Don’t underestimate the ability to collaborate and communicate,” Ku advised. “Communication is not just a tactic, it’s an overall mindset.”
As for growth mindset, Ku is looking forward to sharing his personal lessons learned across all six GDCs. And that, he says, begins with taking time to observe one’s self and grow internally—the company-wide growth will follow.
When asked about personal growth, he recommended, “Surround yourself with people that are better than you. Don’t be afraid of giving away things. Let go. If you have confidence, more things will come. Go with the flow. If you don’t synthesize and form and improve yourself, then you won’t gain from these experiences.”