In October, I had the pleasure of participating in Microsoft’s Women in Tech Challenge along with ten other MBAs. This experience was open to the women of Cambridge working in tech. We were grouped with other Cambridge students and presented with a case that Microsoft employees were working on.

My group was very diverse. I was the only MBA student working with three Master of Management students, two PhD students and an undergraduate studying Maths.  We had to utilise our different backgrounds and strengths to work on the challenge, it was a real collaboration.

Our task dealt with products for front line workers. These are the workers that first interact with the client. They are present in many industries including retail and healthcare, for example. Companies often prefer to invest in products for the “knowledge workers” and fail to optimise the efforts of front line workers. Our task was to present a case for why companies should invest in these workers and why the Microsoft sales team should focus on selling these products (despite the low margins).

Microsoft provided basic information about the product, but the onus was on us to do a product analysis, a competitor analysis, and a general industry analysis. We used the databases in the CJBS Information Library to locate some vital reports. We met several times before the event to consolidate our research and strategise.

During the event, we were paired with Thomas Spangberg, Sales Director at Microsoft. He gave us advice on how to present our strategy to the team, which consisted of some members of the sales team and other Microsoft representatives.

The Challenge took place in Newnham College, Cambridge. Founded in 1871, Newnham is a women only college in Cambridge. This was my first time entering the college, and I truly enjoyed it. The college itself has its charms, but more than that it was great to see women being able to relax and work. Talking to members of the college, they told me about the kindness and support they have experienced while there. I also had the opportunity to speak to Sucheta Nadkarni, a Professorial Fellow of Newnham College and an organiser of the event overall.

Winning the annual Microsoft Women in Tech challenge will open up many opportunities for us. The team is now invited to London to tour the Microsoft office and learn more about opportunities for women in tech globally across the company. Our next challenge is to find a time when the seven of us are available to go to London!

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