As the career classification of "pre-sales system engineering" goes, I'd argue that there is nary a larger challenge than that of a Microsoft Technology or Solution Specialist working in the Education Vertical. I'll admit - I'm biased - I happen to manage the highly trained and motivated engineers that make up the US Education Specialist Team Unit (STU), all of whom, on the average weekday, can identify more with a three letter airport code than their home five digit zip code. But for sake of this inaugural/introductory posting, I thought I'd share with you some little known facts about our business that may incite awe and appreciation for this hardworking crew.
To be sure, the humble employees of Microsoft who serve US Education customers take all this in stride, as we are guided by a principle mission: "Empower people to realize their social and economic potential by enabling access to quality education experiences for all through technology." As altruistic as that may sound, it's a refreshing twist on traditional hard core technology sales the keeps at least me, if not the entire team, invigorated in our jobs.
What, exactly, is a Specialist Team Unit?
Every sales district, vertical and subsidiary at Microsoft has a STU, both in the US and internationally, and the specialists therein typically focus on or have unique training and expertise in one of Microsoft's many product areas - groupings we call "workloads". Our Education STU team goal, then, is to provide pre-sales engineering support to the account teams that directly manage our customer relationships, in their pursuit of IT (Business of Schools), classroom (Teaching and Learning) and student lifestyle solutions. In English, that means we provide technical and solutions expertise to sales teams whose customers require additional briefings, technical detail or proof of concept assistance with the Microsoft solutions they're evaluating for purchase. Sometimes that support is virtual, via phone, email, blogging, podcasting and Live Meeting, but you'll frequently see us navigating the concourses, rail terminals and highways across the US to support customer software evaluations in person on the customer's site.
Given some of the statistics I mention above, as well as our national scope, and relatively small size (we'll have 20 team members in July of 2008), I've put forth the following challenge to the team:
"How can we stretch our value and efficiency further, everyday, using the tools we are promoting and selling everyday?"
This blog site, and the links you'll see to the individual team members blogs, will attempt to answer at least part of that question. You'll see us venturing into pod/web/screen-casting more so than in the past as well. And ultimately, we'll be attempting to anticipate, dissect and answer your common questions on how Microsoft technology can be used to solve, enhance and enrich the three areas I mention above - the Business of Schools, Teaching and Learning, and Student Lifestyle.
The title of this post, then, is more rhetorical in nature because I should be asking "Who 'ya gonna RSS?" or "Who 'ya gonna search on?" Regardless of which question you pose, we look forward to serving you. My blog site, by the way, is http://blogs.technet.com/rgode; it will naturally be less technical and therefore more theoretical, touching on some of the strategies and tactics that education customers might find interesting from a futures and/or high level approach.
Thanks for reading - hope to see you back again soon.
- Rod Gode, Specialist Team Unit Director, US Education
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