Here is what happened to Rachel at Microsoft and why she is not surprised about the email that was going around internally.
She left her engineering role at IBM to take a technical evangelist role in the developer experience org in 2016 working primarily with azure & additional cloud services. She had quotas on speaking, she had to hit which were like 2-3 times a month she doesn’t remember exactly. She had to participate in repping at hackathons to help students at mostly Ivy leagues, some of the students she helped ended up winning. So she was making demos, writing talks, constantly traveling, but getting shit done. It felt good.
Now let me tell you about her manager. He was an extremely alpha type man whose background was sales. Not an engineer. They did not get along, no matter what she did it wasn’t good enough and every single quarterly review she had from him was bad. You want to talk about ~ meritocracy ~?? she was hitting all her quotas. Yet he turned it into something terrible. He shows up at a hackathon for an hour and saw her at the table working on a demo she have to be giving that week and say she wasn’t participating enough when she is there 12+ hours a day.
It was so bad the CTO had a talk with her and used Meyers Briggs types to explain “why they clashed” because they were complete opposites. He tried to show her “ better ways to communicate with him but it didn't work. Other managers in other regions knew of the problems with this guy too. Still, every quarterly review was bad. Which no one told her meant she was essentially on a PIP almost her entire time there, which makes a big difference in a little bit. Then he got promoted so he wasn’t their manager anymore! she was happy about that. But then they changed her position and she wasn’t an evangelist anymore but a sales engineer. They also told her to stop speaking at conferences because that's was not the job she signed up for. A new manager comes in, meanwhile as most people know, speaking at conferences takes a lot of lead time to book and plan so she still has like 23 months of speaking lined up. Now it’s the end of year time which she was excited about because of the huge bonuses in terms of % of base and stock grants, plus wage increases Microsoft is known to have.
She thought she was finally going to be able to pay off her student loans with this role. She got nothing. Other people in the organization who had been there much less time than she got their full bonuses. She knew because they told her. She is now a sales engineer she was expected to seek out businesses to partner with or find ones that Microsoft had provided to make projects for them specifically that they could use, and she did a few of those and it sucked. She desperately was trying to get moved to another team, she tried so hard, other people supposedly tried to help her too, but nothing happened. Because when you have a bad quarterly review you apparently can’t move teams. Which no one told her about and she didn’t find out till the end.
Then she was told not to speak anymore, no more traveling, and they put her on a sales engineering project for C# which she does not know, and she had to brush up and learn in a month. She and another younger woman colleague got sent to Florida to work with some older men who had been in Microsoft for years in Tampa, Florida. The project went well, the client was happy. She paired and wrote some C# and made implementation suggestions she thought were better.
It was actually pretty fun and she had a good time, one of the men was a big fan of
@jessfraz and saw that they followed each other on twitter and wanted to talk about how cool she is (which she is!) and he tried to add her on linked in. When it was done everyone said good job, said it was a success and they went home. When she got back her manager put her on a react project that had a ton of bugs, and she was told to work on fixing that and collaborating with another colleague who was great. Then two weeks after getting back, she got an email from her manager that was clearly coached by legal talking about how “Microsoft values diversity and inclusivity” and about how there were multiple complaints about her from the Florida group.
They said she didn’t code, which was a lie since she had to pair the whole time because she had a month to learn C#. They lied and said she left early “to get her nails done”. She has the swarm check in for 6:30 at the nail place in which they were done at 5:30. They said “she made people uncomfortable” because she and the other woman were talking about Valentine’s Day dinner reservations. She felt sick to her stomach. First, because her mind was racing trying to think of if she had done anything inappropriate.
She didn’t. It took her a while to realize she was being managed out. Why would men who she supposedly made uncomfortable try and connect with her on LinkedIn? Why would they lie about this shit? she honestly didn’t know what gaslighting truly felt like until she was at Microsoft
Here is a conversation she posted with permission from a friend who also worked there a few days after this happened
So she is dealing with this and working on the react project and simultaneously starting to look for a new job. The guy she is working with on the project rules and knows what’s going on and was giving their manager good feedback on her. They found a case study inside the project that could be turned into a new project to improve processes. She pitched it, her manager said it was good, told her to come in to talk about it. Guess what happens next!
She was fired, with cause. Told she was a shitty evangelist and a shitty engineer. Direct feedback on the latter from when she was fired “while Rachel fixed some very intense bugs she ultimately didn’t write enough lines of code”, as she was *walking out the building* she send a tweet saying she is looking for new opportunities and had multiple people from Microsoft say “join our team” and it felt like she was being kicked when she was down.
She said that she doesn't think every team at Microsoft is bad. Everyone at Microsoft isn’t bad, but there are some intense shitty things happening and they have extremely broken systems and no way for people to get out of bad situations. Microsoft is why she stepped down as co-chair and why she had to stop participating in the node. Microsoft is why she not speaking this year. Microsoft is why she constantly question whether or not she is good enough or belong in tech.
She uses this medium to let us know what happens between her and Microsoft.