Derrick McCourt, General Manager, Microsoft

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Derrick McCourt, General Manager, Microsoft

Company Background

Where did your passion for digital come from?

 After the terrible O-Level advice to do German instead of Computer Studies (yes I am that old that I did O-Levels), I was a bit of a hobbyist on my Sinclair Spectrum 48k (again old guy!). I hated my A-Level choices and instead of University did the equivalent of a Modern Apprenticeship in Computing which was with a small Belfast software company and I just took to tech like a duck to water. They supported me to do my degree part-time and a lifelong learning journey began.

What’s your favourite thing about the industry?

 It is the constant change which drives the need for continuous learning. Everyday through the work I do with our customers I learn something new about the transformative power of technology.

Where do you see yourself/your company in five years?

 I don’t think anyone can accurately predict anything in this industry over a 5 year life time. When I see the incredible change that Microsoft has gone through even in the last 3 years both technologically and culturally my only hope is that pace of change will continue to accelerate, and I can keep up! 

What’s your role and what does a typical day involve?

 I am part of Microsoft UK’s Senior Leadership Team and run a group called the Customer Success Unit. My team was formed a year ago as part of Microsoft’s transformation to become a service provider through our public cloud platforms. My team works with just over 100 of the UKs biggest organisations, both Commercial and Public Sector, helping them architect the digital solutions they are building and to drive the usage, adoption and change management required to solve their biggest business challenges.

 Looking to the future, what do you see as being the next big thing in tech?

 I can safely predict that all our lives will be impacted by the infusion of AI and Cognitive services into just about every knowledge based task we do every day. I want to be part of an industry that means this innovation is used as a force for good.

Any new products, services, events coming up for your business?

 We launch something new every day, and that is not an exaggeration. I spoke at recent Microsoft Azure User Group in our Edinburgh Office and as part of the gathering one of my team ran a session on the top 10 Azure Platform features that had been launched since the meeting 3 months earlier. And the pace of innovation was just staggering. Which connects back to my earlier point – that’s why I love this industry so much. I get to work with much cleverer people than me who create these amazing platforms and I get the chance to work with our customer to apply the innovation in a practical way to solve real world challenges

Why did you join ScotlandIS and importantly, why are you still with us?

I think it’s incumbent on an global tech company to land with relevancy in your local market so being an active member of Soctland’s trade body that represents our industry is a no-brainer

 What do you consider to be the biggest benefit of your ScotlandIS membership?

I think Scotland needs to have a strong voice so that Digital continues to be a priority for our Government, for our businesses, and that we have our own indigenous technology industry. We simply want to be a part of that conversation and Scotland IS leads that conversation locally.

If you could give one piece of advice to an emerging business/startup, what would it be?

 Be big and bold in your ambition. Microsoft works with start-ups at all stages of their development and those that we invest in know the industry that they are trying to disrupt, know how to harness the technology they are going to leverage to drive that disruption, and have bold ambitions on how they are going to drive that disruption.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

 I do love my job, I’m not the sort of person who could do something every day they didn’t love. I get to take what I think is the richest cloud platform on the planet (Ok, I know I’m biased), I get to engage with the biggest organisations in the UK who are putting digital at the core of what they do, I work with the smartest people in the industry, both in my team and in our customers, and we build stuff that I can actually point to my own kids and say “this is what Dad does”.

If you were speaking to a classroom full of 3rd year high school students how would you pitch the industry as the best place to be?

 I do this quite a bit and it gives me a real buzz. The job here is dispel the myth that a career in technology is for geeks and nerds (even though I wear that badge with pride!). Those biggest UK brands I mentioned earlier are all becoming digital companies because they are being disrupted by the start-up market like never before. When those 3rd year high school students are entering the workforce there will be two types of employee – those who do digital and those who have digital done to them. Which would you rather be?? And girls… this is not a career just for boys. Our industry is full of role models who are changing this perception every day, including my own boss, Cindy Rose, our UK CEO.

 

 

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