Microsoft in Hong Kong

by Donald Lam | Photo Credits: Donald Lam | 25 November 2013

Alan Chan, the National Technology Officer of Microsoft Hong Kong, came to campus on the 22nd of November in a careers event organized by the Computer Science Association. An HKU engineering alumni himself, Alan talked in depth about a career at Microsoft, and the many visions of Microsoft as a company.

A Microsoft career in Hong Kong

Much to the visible disappointment of the students, Alan was quick to point out that Microsoft has no Research and Development (R&D) offices in Hong Kong.

His colleague from Human Resources, William Wong, advised students interested in joining Microsoft Research to send their applications to the company’s Beijing or Shanghai offices, where the Microsoft research facilities in Asia Pacific are located.

But Microsoft is at the end of the day still a tech company. Although many of their job titles sound business-oriented, the nature of the positions is very much about technical consulting, development, and deployment. A degree in computer science or electronic and communications engineering is often preferred or even required.

The company also takes interns in sales, marketing, evangelist and legal departments.

A student asked if there is any chance for a Microsoft Hong Kong employee to get transferred to the company’s Redmond headquarters.

“The company encourages mobility,” said Alan, “but I think relocating is not that easy.”

Working in Cyberport

“If you have been to Cyberport, you would know… it is gorgeous, the working environment.” Microsoft takes up three floors of offices in the pristine seaside location.

Your desk at the Microsoft offices may not look drastically different from that in any other company, but there is a game room (with no playstation consoles of course), a wellbeing room filled with models of OSIM massage chairs, and a free flow of snacks, fruit, yogurt, instant noodles and drinks on every floor.

“The company also promotes flexible workspace… we take great care of our working moms,” said Alan, “In fact, we were voted as the most family friendly company in Hong Kong last year.”

Microsoft Research

“People think that because Microsoft is such a big company… we are always on ‘maintenance mode’… that is a misconception.” Said Alan.

The company is all about big challenges. “We have changed from a software company… to a device and services company.”

Alan also talked about Microsoft Research. The biggest research directions Microsoft is taking include natural user interfaces, machine learning and advanced social functions in searches. You can read more about the research focuses in Microsoft Research Asia here.

The Event

The event was at Meng Wah Complex, HKU

An Interview Tip!

The 6 Core Values of Microsoft:

1. integrity and honesty

2. open and respectful

3. self-critical

4. big challenges

5. accountable

6. passion

Apply Now!

The Microsoft Campus Recruitment Event is usually held in HKU every September.

If you missed it this September, you can see listings of positions that are still open for graduates here.

What is a Microsoft Evangelist?

Did you know?

Imagine Cup

The Imagine Cup is an annual competition hosted by Microsoft to encourage young technologists to come up with new ideas.

Imagine Cup 2014 has three categories and three challenges: world citizenship, innovation, games, pitch video, project blueprint and user experience.

Two HKU teams broke into world semi-finals back in 2010, in the game design category: Read more here.

Did you know?

Dreamspark program

DreamSpark is a Microsoft program to provide students with software design and development tools at no charge.

Under the Dreamspark Premium program, students in HKU Computer Science are entitled to free software licenses. Check out what you can download for free here.

Bashing the Competition

With the recent reboot of the controversial Scroogled campaign, Microsoft is now positioning itself as the challenger in many markets.

“…[Google] uses you as a product,” Alan spoke in detail how Google’s increasingly personalized services is crossing the line. Microsoft, on the other hand, hold integrity and honesty as one of her core values, he stressed, and has always been an open, respectful, self-critical and accountable company.

His views on the gmail advertisement system can be summed up in the video below:

Technology Megatrends

Mobility, social, cloud and big data are the modern key areas in the business, according to Microsoft.

On mobility, the company is optimistic towards catching up and making a dent with its devices and operating system. Alan also brought up their purchase of Nokia and offered to give one student who still uses a traditional Nokia candybar a discount on a Lumia phone.

Microsoft may seem irrelevant in social services at first glance. But products such as Skype and Yammer, an enterprise social networking solution that Alan described as “a secure enterprise version of Facebook”, puts the company on the map.

On cloud computing, Microsoft has also a good investment in the business end. Windows Azure, an enterprise level business cloud solution, has been adopted by many.

For example, the popular TVB fun app, an interactive voting system for the local television station, is powered in the background by Azure infrastructure.

Microsoft Research Asia has also partnered with HKU’s Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department to host the cloud-powered COMPAD+, a system architecture e-learning tool on Azure servers.

About the Author

Donald Lam

Editor in Chief

Second Year, Computer Science

Author: Donald Lam

Editor in Chief A second year student in Computer Science at HKU. He owns a Nokia phone and is a bit of a Microsoft fanboy in denial.

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