Marietta Davis: Leader, Visionary, Technologist, Philanthropist

Marietta Davis: Leader, Visionary, Technologist, Philanthropist

Written By: Eric Gjerdevig

from May 4, 2015

Marietta Davis talks about her career, her team, and how Microsoft is changing

I recently sat down with Marietta Davis, Vice President of Microsoft US Dynamics, at the 2015 Microsoft Dynamics Industry Summit in Southern California. It only takes a few minutes with Marietta Davis to realize how passionate she is about Microsoft, her team, and the community she lives in.

Marietta began her career at Microsoft in December 1999. Her dynamic personality and determination to close deals quickly propelled her from an individual contributor to her first leadership position within 12 months. Over the last 15 years, Marietta has held various positions that have taken her all over the US. She began as a Solution Sales Professional before transitioning to a Business Manager, District General Manager (GM), and now the Vice President of Microsoft Dynamics US Subsidiary.

What brought you to Microsoft?

When I joined Microsoft, I was looking for less travel and the ability to spend more time with my son, who has special needs. I interviewed at Microsoft and found everyone very engaging and future-focused. However, the deciding factor came as I was driving home. There was a story on the radio about the work Bill Gates was doing to provide vaccinations and immunizations throughout Africa and other parts of the world. Microsoft’s focus on healthcare and the less fortunate really stood out as something different. The fact that I’m still here after 15 years speaks volumes about the opportunities we have at Microsoft. It’s a great company to work for.

Tell us a little more about the opportunities you’ve had.

A year into my career at Microsoft, I was about to move into a role with our consulting team. At the same time, I was invited to an internal career advisory board to speak about my views on our customers and customer satisfaction. Subsequently, I was invited to lead a new group focused on business applications. Within five years, I had made it into a general manager (GM) position. I moved to Redmond and had the opportunity to work with Microsoft leaders, such as Steve Ballmer, in various strategy and communication roles. After my time in Redmond, I took a position in Detroit to run the Heartland Sales District as the General Manager. It wasn’t an easy position given companies such as General Motors and Chrysler went bankrupt during that time. After being successful in Detroit, I moved to Atlanta to become the GM of the Greater Southeast District. I lead the GSD for a little over 5 years before accepting the role as VP of US Dynamics. I’ve been in the role for about 18 months and could not be happier. I feel my career has benefited from having an understanding and zest for technology. That’s really important at Microsoft.

What motivates you professionally?

My skills and passion are best suited for a position focused around driving change or transformation. Dave Willis (former VP of US Dynamics) built a phenomenal business in the United States that I think of as version 1.0. I’m hoping, in the future, when we look back on right now, we’ll realize this is version 2.0. What we are doing with CRM and ERP is big! Dynamics is more than an incubated business. It’s exciting and there is a lot of room for us to take things to the next level.

What has excited you most about Microsoft in the last 12 months?

Microsoft has become more open and is competing differently than in the past. Just look at what we’ve done with Microsoft Office for Apple and Android, and the strategic relationships Microsoft has made with or SAP. I’m focused every day on competing with these organizations, but Microsoft is partnering with them at the same time. I never thought I’d see the degree of openness that we now have. I marvel at how fast we move when a decision is made. For the size of Microsoft, it’s incredible. Our focus is on the end consumer experience; it’s not just rhetoric. The investment we are making in R&D and our customer experience with cloud are hard to compete against. Steve helped the organization evolve in this direction, but it has been accelerated greatly in the last 12 months under the leadership of Satya Nadella.

How does Microsoft support what’s important to you outside of work?

Microsoft truly values the uniqueness of people and invests in them. Two personal examples that are important to me are the Stay Fit benefits and the charitable match that Microsoft provides to employees. I’m pretty open about the fact that I worked hard to lose 109 pounds when I came to Microsoft. I was committed to getting healthy, and Microsoft supported me. It’s important to have periods of time in your day or week that are nonnegotiable. For me that’s a period of time each day that I focus on my health.

A second example is around philanthropy and the work Microsoft does to support everyone’s lives. Microsoft technology is about more than just a cool product. It includes supporting people with things such as hearing loss and kids with autism. I’m inspired to work for a company that is interested in helping the least fortunate. I volunteer and donate to local nonprofits such as the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta. This is further supported through Microsoft’s charitable match program. Long after I leave Microsoft, I’ll be working out and doing what I can to support organizations like these. I value working for a company that understands the responsibilities it has to both its employees and the communities we are a part of.

Any final thoughts?

I’m humbled and honored to lead the 300+ people within my organization. I’m really proud and inspired by the work they do and how they interact with customers and partners. No leader can be successful without a highly functioning team. I couldn’t be successful without them. They embraced me when I took this position and have continued to support me every day with the work they do. My team is awesome!