US Partner Success Attribute #5: Culture Alignment

If you attended Microsoft Inspire and participated in the US Area General Session you heard David Willis, CVP, US Partner Group and his leadership team present the 5 attributes of a successful Microsoft partner. Building on this theme, the leadership team has put together a 5-part blog series to share what we have learned and observed through our work with successful Microsoft partners. In this 5th and final blog post, I’m excited to share some thoughts about Culture Alignment with Microsoft which I had the opportunity to speak about during the US Area General Session.

Growth mindset

When we talk about Microsoft’s culture, and what is important to us, we landed on a culture founded in a growth mindset. This means anyone can change, learn and grow. We believe potential is nurtured and not pre-determined. We should always strive to learn and be curious. We should try things and not be afraid to fail. We see similar characteristics in our most successful Microsoft partners.  As part of our work on culture here at Microsoft, we have identified four activities that allow a growth mindset to flourish and they are:

  1. Obsessing over what matters to our customers and partners
  2. Becoming more diverse and inclusive in everything we do and create
  3. Operating as one company instead of multiple siloed businesses
  4. Making a difference in the lives of each other, our customers and partners and the world around us.

It’s rare to have a meeting at Microsoft where growth mindset – learning over knowing – doesn’t come up. The idea started as a phrase but has turned into a way of interacting and doing business. One very important aspect of a growth mindset is Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) because it often requires us to think differently, learn from others, and adapt to different points of view.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity & Inclusion is key to innovation and disruption. More diverse perspectives lead to better ideas and better ideas drive innovation. Successful Microsoft partners recognize the value of Diversity and Inclusion. Our goal is to build a culture that brings everyone along and includes perspectives that reflect the diversity of our customers around the world. That is why we’re investing in programs designed to attract a diverse group of people, placing a premium on creating an inclusive environment in order to create technologies that very intentionally include, rather than inadvertently exclude. We celebrate and value diversity and believe at its core it is a powerful accelerant for what we do here at Microsoft. One aspect of this is our focus on accessibility. We want everyone who works at Microsoft or uses our products to feel that they belong and that our products were built with them in mind. But we recognize that Diversity and Inclusion is a journey and we are proud to be on this journey with our partners.The industry as a whole has a long way to go before we have an ecosystem that is as diverse as the world we serve.

More women in tech

Achieving greater representation of women in tech is a critical component of that diversity and something I’ve been passionate about my entire career. Diversity & Inclusion isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an industry issue! Microsoft is focused on encouraging more women in technology from the classroom to the boardroom and has incredible programs like Digi Girls and Girls Who Code among others to build our talent pipeline. On the other end of the spectrum, we have also been working to get women into the boardroom. That’s one reason I became a  co-founder of the Women in Cloud initiative, a growing movement enabling the next generation of women entrepreneurs to take advantage of the $1 billion cloud opportunity. The initiative provides women entrepreneurs access to resources such as capital, employees, and skills that will help them accelerate the growth of their cloud businesses.

The Women in Cloud initiative continues to power economic development for women entrepreneurs. This year, the program is expanding to an additional eight countries, and delivering more accelerator programs in the US, with cohorts in New York and Chicago as well as here in Seattle. If you are interested in learning more about Women in Cloud, please visit us here at

Empower yourself & others

We are taking action to ensure there is a strong and diverse pipeline of talent through Women in Cloud. But our work at Microsoft to create a diverse &nclusive culture extends far beyond this. We work with other partner organizations like IAMCP, Women in Tech, among others to advance these goals across the industry. Today, I encourage you to take action. It’s incredible what can happen when one person takes one small step to make a difference.

This is how Women in Cloud was formed – with small first steps by passionate individuals. I challenge you to:

  1. Create access to mentorship
  2. Personally commit to changing and diversifying the landscape
  3. And finally, dare yourself to learn something new every day, with curiosity and a growth mindset

Watch to hear our partners’ views on culture alignment with Microsoft:


Thank you for your partnership!

Gretchen O’Hara is a 20+ year tech industry veteran with vast experience in commercial, public sector, and partner sales and marketing across small, medium, and large businesses—including technical evangelism with students, startups, and developers across the world. Currently, Gretchen serves as Vice President of Go-to-Market for the One Commercial Partner Organization at Microsoft, where she is responsible for leading the market strategy and execution with partners, responsible for $20 billion in revenue and 23K partners across the US.
Prior to this role, Gretchen led business and market strategy for the US Developer Experience & Evangelism organization, where she oversaw efforts to build connections with ISVs, startups, developers, students, and IT pros; accelerated third-party application development on Microsoft devices and cloud platforms; led commercial marketing for the US; and built the WW Partner Cloud Strategy for the partner ecosystem—building new channel transformation to support cloud and digital transformation within companies and the industry.

Other posts you may like

The five attributes of successful Microsoft partners

US Partner Success Attribute #1: Why being customer obsessed is critical to shared success

US Partner Success Attribute #2: Having a Differentiated Value Proposition

US Partner Success Attribute #3: Alignment with Microsoft

US Partner Success Attribute #4: Leverage the Ecosystem