Microsoft returns to the VanUX Awards for a third year as UX by Students sponsor and Demo Day host.
Microsoft is an organization that’s passionate about helping people learn and improve, explains Pam Saunders, Microsoft Vancouver’s PR Manager. As an organization their mission is to empower every person and organization around the globe to achieve more, however, they define it. This mission Pam explains bleeds into everything they do, from the products they ship to the initiatives they support, and even culture they strive to cultivate internally.
In fact, the culture at the Microsoft Vancouver office—one of only six such development centers in the world—is a little different from what’s typical in tech. Sure, they have foosball tables and Friday socials, but they also have sumo robot challenges, a maker space, and plenty of community programming. The goal, Pam tells us, is to give staff opportunities to explore their passions in new and fun ways. Whether it’s making robots, visiting schools to help teachers navigate coding curriculum or even creating a foosball opponent using AI—the interests are wide-ranging and the opportunities to pursue them are abundant.
Their Garage Internship Program is another great example of these values coming to life. This 16-week program at Microsoft gives students from around the world an opportunity to explore their interests and solve real-world problems using technology. Last semester a team of interns built a holographic application for the BC Cancer Foundation, helping them see tumors in ways that were not possible with 2D and 3D imaging. “So much of what we interact with now is bound in technology. It touches every industry.” The potential, Pam explains, is exciting.
Something else that’s exciting is the opportunity that Vancouver presents for a global company like Microsoft. “Vancouver offers a great combination of talent and diversity,” Pam explains. “When you’re building for global customers it’s nice to have a workforce that reflects your global customers”.
There’s a wealth of design talent here in Vancouver Pam explains, and the Awards will be a great opportunity to witness it and celebrate all the great work being done in the city. The event will also give the Microsoft team a chance to be among peers and get inspired. “There’s a real interest in what other people are working on. It’s not as competitive in that there’s a lack of willingness to help one another, and that’s something I find special.”